Isaac Fitts-Sprague completed an internship at ABPDU as part of the Science Undergraduate Laboratory Internships (SULI) program in 2019. Today, he is a data engineer at Wellframe.
Tell us about your background.
Before I came to ABPDU, I was an undergraduate student at the University of Massachusetts Amherst studying mechanical engineering. I was interested in doing a research internship and found out about the SULI program. I applied and was contacted about an internship at ABPDU. At the time I didn’t really have an idea of what my career path was going to be, and this got me thinking about how I could apply my degree to a different field. I saw the internship at ABPDU as an opportunity to explore something new.
What was your experience like as an ABPDU intern?
During my internship, I was primarily helping run experiments and operating lab equipment for both research and industry projects. I definitely felt like my general engineering education and engineering mindset helped me when I was running equipment and troubleshooting issues. I quickly saw how my skills would be applicable to various fields.
Working with companies was the most interesting part for me. Every week I was able to work with scientists from around the country and talk to them about what they were doing and what it was like working for their company. That gave me a good idea of what career opportunities are out there and a better understanding of the biomanufacturing field.
How did your internship influence your career path?
After I graduated, I worked at Ginkgo Bioworks as an automation engineer. I had actually met employees from there while I was at ABPDU. So my internship was a good stepping stone for this position, because I already felt comfortable in a lab and I had learned some basics in chemistry and biology. I primarily worked in robotics and programming. Both my experiences at ABPDU and Gingko helped me see different scales of biomanufacturing, so I got to see the full pipeline of the development process.
Today, I work as a data engineer at Wellframe. We make an app that lets you talk to your health insurance provider. In my role I’m working on formatting data we receive from healthcare companies so that it can be used to customize people’s experiences on the app. While I was at ABPDU, my mentor encouraged me to explore avenues I thought were interesting, so I was able to do some programming work for a project. And I think that’s where I also realized I wanted to be a programmer.
Currently, I’m getting to use some of my mechanical engineering skill sets, and I could see myself working with both hardware and software in the future. Looking back, I can see that my experience at ABPDU definitely helped me think about what fields are growing and where my future career could go.