Co-op experiences: Emma Downey, E22

Biomedical engineering alum Emma Downey reflects on lessons from her undergraduate co-op experiences with Insulet and Moderna.
Emma Downey.

Emma Downey, E22
Undergraduate major: Biomedical engineering
Currently: Ph.D. student in the Interdepartmental Neuroscience Program at Yale University
Co-op placements: Insulet (spring 2020), working on prosthetic drug delivery and insulin pumps, and Moderna (fall 2020), working on lipid nanoparticle–or LNP—development, a drug delivery system for vaccines, with timely relevance amid the pandemic. 
What I Learned: “Failure was super necessary. In a classroom you are primed to not fail. But I failed lots of times. I think that's what engineering does too. It wants you to fail. It encourages you to fail. You have to find the walls of any problem you are searching for before you can get to the end.”
My Advice: “My biggest tip is to show up and try your best. A lot of people are nervous to start a co-op; they're worried they're not going to do it perfectly. Some days are not your best, and that’s OK. The important thing is that every experience builds on the one before it. If I hadn’t had such a fantastic time at Moderna, then I wouldn't have had the knowledge to work at Tufts under [postdoctoral fellow] Adam Mullis on the neurology of Alzheimer’s disease. I felt confident and, two years later, it helped me go on to graduate studies in neuroscience at Yale.”
The Co-Op Advantage: “The co-op experience gave me opportunities to refine what I want to do and it gave me a leg up when I graduated; it helped me get a fabulous internship at a start-up, Bolden Therapeutics. I know I was hired because I had such extensive experience in the lab. That’s the reason that you should do a co-op; it builds your experience and when you have experience, you have the confidence to keep going.”

Employers looking for more information on the co-op programs at the School of Engineering can contact Sue Atkins, associate director of Employer Relations, Tufts Career Center.