Rachel Takahashi has been my idol probably from high school, only I didn’t know it then. She has always been the independent, chic, intelligent older peer that I’ve totally admired. To make things even better, she’s a woman of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). As a nerd, I understand and recognize the value Science and Technology has within the geek and nerd community. I feel as though it is incredibly vital to encourage more women, especially women of color, to explore these fields. I had the amazing opportunity to interview her via email, so please enjoy!
Area of Study: Bioengineering
Black Nerd Problems: Tell us a bit about yourself.
Rachel: I grew up in Northern Virginia where I took an interest in math, science, and design. I decided to pursue a degree in biomedical engineering at Virginia Commonwealth University since I believed it would be an interesting fusion between the three. After graduating with a Bachelor of Science, even though I knew my education was in-depth and fulfilling, I felt that I still did not have enough connections/did not live in the right region to break into the biotech industry.
That is why I decided to get a Master of Engineering in bioengineering from University of California, San Diego. San Diego is the largest biotech hub in the US so it has really given me so many opportunities to break into the biotech industry. I am currently a design intern at a medical devices startup called Cognionics where I design/redesign various dry EEG products. The products are used in neurodynamic studies around the world. I plan to continue pursuing a career in the medical devices industry doing design work.
BNP: How important do you feel STEM fields are?
Rachel: The STEM fields are incredibly important because they not only provide breakthroughs in modern technology and medicine, but also promote logical and evidence-based thinking, which is what society needs to prevent irrational and destructive behavior. I believe that STEM fields are some of the most important fields you can be a part of due to the positive impact they can make on society.
Rachel: My goals are to be hired full time as a medical device design engineer at a startup company. I hope to stay with the company through its growth and eventually become CTO.