Erin Knight

Year:
2005
Major:
Chemistry (Dual Degree Program in Engineering)
Graduate/Professional School:
B.S., M.S., University of Michigan
Residence:
Seattle, Wash.
Career:
Pilot Plant Purification Manager, Amgen
In a nutshell, what do you do?
I work with five direct reports and transfer new processes into the pilot plant. It is an exciting place to work because we are on the cutting edge of biotechnology and we get to experiment with new equipment every year.
Looking back, were there benefits to participating in Albion's Dual Degree Program in Engineering instead of the more traditional route of four or five years at an engineering school?
The biggest advantage is the well-rounded education that you end up with. Unless you want to go into a strictly technical route, being exposed to a range of subjects from women's studies to world religions challenges you to learn to formulate opinions and have discussions. When you work in a dynamic corporate structure, most of your day is spent navigating the business processes, negotiating with peers or across groups and learning new things. Although I do occasionally have to remember how to set tuning parameters or explain to someone what an endothermic reaction is, it isn't the biggest part of my day.

Another real benefit was the small class size at Albion. At a bigger school many students get lost in the intro chemistry and math classes, and even if they pass they don't necessarily internalize the concepts. At Albion, professors were very accessible and we had great class discussions.
Do any Albion courses or experiences stand out in your mind as particularly helpful while you were in engineering school?
Taking a couple of classes as independent study while I was at Albion was really useful. Not only was it instrumental in letting me graduate in five years, but I think the experience of working through things on my own was a good experience for the work world, when you don't always have a lot of direction but still need to figure out how things work. Also, I found that thermodynamics and reactions engineering were pretty easy after taking the pre-reqs at Albion. The courses at Albion covered most of the concepts, so I was way ahead of my classmates at Michigan in those areas.
What are some of your favorite memories of your time at Albion?
I loved playing in the jazz band at Albion. I was a flute player in high school and picked up the sax just my senior year. I never would have made it into the jazz band at Michigan, so I am thankful for that experience.

Take It Further: Dual Degree Program in Engineering, Chemistry, Mathematics and Computer Science