Corinna Lathan

Corinna Lathan

Title
Board Chair and CEO
Organization
AnthroTronix, Inc.
Location
DC
Corinna Lathan
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Biography

Dr. Corinna Lathan co-founded AnthroTronix in 1999 and is currently Board Chair and Chief Executive Officer. Dr. Lathan's diverse background includes extensive research, teaching, and consulting in the areas of human performance engineering, medical device design, and assistive technology. Previously, Dr. Lathan was an Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering at The Catholic University of America (CUA) and an Adjunct Associate Professor of Aerospace Engineering at the University of Maryland, College Park. Dr. Lathan is also Founder of AT KidSystems, a spinoff of ATinc, which distributes alternative computer interfaces and educational software. Her work with children with disabilities and robotics has been featured in Forbes, Time, and the New Yorker magazines as well as led to such distinctions as Maryland's "Top Innovator of the Year," MIT Technology Review Magazine's "Top 100 World Innovators,” and one of Fast Company Magazines “Most Creative People in Business.” She has also been named a Technology Pioneer and a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum and is currently on their Global Agenda Council for Robotics and Smart devices. Dr. Lathan is actively involved in educational outreach programs that empower women and minorities in science and technology. She is the Founder of Keys to Empowering Youth for junior high school girls, an advisor to the FIRST and VEX robotics program, and a Board Member of the National Black Child Development Institute. Dr. Lathan is also on the Board of Engineering World Health, which supports the emergence of healthcare technology in the developing world, and on the Advisory Board of Amman Imman - Water is Life. Dr. Lathan received her B.A. in Biopsychology and Mathematics from Swarthmore College, and an S.M. in Aeronautics and Astronautics and Ph.D. in Neuroscience from MIT.

Answers by Dr. Corinna Lathan
Guten Morgen! I was not academically successful in high school and had zero ambition to pursue any sort of degree. I failed both math and science; it was never something that I felt I had any business learning until recently. I started working on my prerequisites for nursing last fall, although I do not have a strong passion for the career. Since returning to school at the age of 28, I found that I'm highly skilled at math. I received not only the highest score on midterm and final exams for the last 3 consecutive quarters but have also earned the highest overall grade. One professor has also commented that I was the hardest working student he's had in his career. It's got me thinking that maybe I could do more than nursing. That's not to say that nursing isn't lucrative or challenging (my husband is a nurse for the US Army). But it's my "safety" major.I haven't taken any science courses yet. I'm due to start those in October. My husband is now strongly encouraging me to research engineering as a career rather than continuing on my pursuit for a degree I'm only half heartedly interested in. I have many concerns about making the switch. The biggest one being what if I'm not as great at science as I am math. I'm also worried that I will be one of the older students which will be less desirable to employers. And then there's that nasty gender bias.I'm not sure where to begin looking at what options I have and mainly just hoping for reinforcement that it it's not inconceivable for a woman in her late 20's to pursue a degree in engineering. I would be extremely grateful for any advice you could offer. Many thanks,Kimberly

Hi Kimberly!  You are absolutely on the right track.  Late 20's is YOUNG!  You have plenty of time to find your passion, and you should search until you do.   I would worry less about what degree to get and more about what interests you.  Science and Math are simply tools to accomplish your REAL goals.  

There's a great book (at least it was 10 years ago) called What Color Is Your Parachute?  I Just looked it up and there is a 2014 edition.  Get it!  Or find a copy in the library.  

As a more "mature" student, you will have many advantages and you need to make the most of them.  For example, let's say you find a professor who is doing really interesting work.  Maybe making prosthetics. Or maybe looking at models of the heart. Whatever it is, you should get some hands on experience and professors will jump at having a hard working, responsible adult on their team instead of (or in addition to) the typical 18-20 year old flakes :)  And that value will carry over to employers - DON"T worry about your age! It is an asset, not a liability.

Good luck!!

-Cori

Hi Caroline!
CUA's program is great!  I chose to teach there because it was a nice size and had a good balance of opportunities for the students and the faculty.  You will have great liberal arts to balance your technical classes, great access to your professors, and access to all the resources in DC, both personal and professional.  The big difference b/n a small school and a larger school is that personal attention and ability to work closely with professors.  Many of the professors in the biomed program at CUA do work at NIH and the National Rehabilitation Hospital. 

College decisions are hard.  I'd look at the research areas of the professors where you are going and find someone who inspires you.  It's the personal connections you make in college that will help you in life after college as well!

best wishes!

Engineers are as diverse as non-engineers so it's hard to point to characteristics that might mean you should be an engineer!  But I can tell you some of the things about me that maybe were signs I should be an engineer: I liked Star Trek, science fiction, and any cool futuristic technology. In college I decided I liked science and math but not engineering so I majored in biology and math.  And then I discovered biomedical engineering and went back into engineering!  So now I look at how technology can help medical applications like robotic surgery.  So my advice would be to keep your options open!  If you keep taking science and math courses, engineering will always be an option (as will medical school). But if you stop now, it would be really hard.   As for all the other cool subjects - you have a lifetime of learning!  I'm in book club reading lots of literature that a lot of students read in college; I just went to a Van Gogh exhibit; I take my kids to the theatre.  So you will always be able to learn new things even if you choose a single career path!

Good luck!

That's a great question and I think you should ask many people the same question and you will get lots of different answers. I truly believe that it doesn't matter what your engineering degree is "named". It matters what you "do". Even if you majored in biomedical engineering from the beginning, what graduate schools and employers will want to know is, what projects did you work on? what skills do you have? You need to build tangible skills no matter what your degree is called. Programming skills, electronics, cad, whatever your strengths are, build on them and market them to future employers and schools. So find really interesting people to work with and really fun projects to do. THAT is what is important.

Don't worry about labels! In general, it doesn't matter what your undergraduate engineering degree is called. I would go with whichever major has the best most interesting professors and volunteer to work in their lab! It is very likely you will need to get at least a master's degree for any of the areas you mentioned. That's the time that you may want to get a more focused degree -e.g. genetic engineering. But frankly, employers (like myself) don't care what your degree is in. I want to know what courses you took, what projects you worked on, and what your references say about you! Good luck!!

Biomedical Engineers (BMEs) can do many many many different things. It depends on your specific education and interests. BMEs can work at universities, hospitals, companies, non-profits and lots of other places. BMEs can work with medical devices, microscopes and movements of cells, robots, computers, patients, astronauts, and more! The real answer to your question is what do you want to DO, not what do you want to BE. If you like technology and want to use technology to enable people do things they might not be able to do without it, then someone might call you a biomedical engineer!

Recently there was a career day at my school, i went into the function with 1 thing on my mind "i'm going to become a doctor" and left there with "what do i really want to become?''. I'm in the 9th grade, so this year i will pick my subjects to do for cxc. I researched and found that i could become biomedical engineer and later become a doctor, as a love science and math but i also love history and literature. I'm still not sure which branch of engineering i want to do or if i even want to do it all.

1) I would like to known how having a degree in biomedical engineering effects or betters an career as a doctor, as in will i have to start from scratch to become a doctor and some if the benefits of having a a degree in biomedical engineering, will i have to acqire additional cxc subjects as well as other information?

2) If i do become a biomedical engineer and then later decide to become a doctor which is the best field to go in that involves some aspects of biomedical engineering?

3) what is the difference between an electronic engineer and a electric engineer?

4) I love learning and discovering new things, as well as acquiring knowledge about stuff i did not know about before. I love to watch the history channel, discovery channel and AND national geographic channel. I like to draw but i can not draw very well.I love trying new things and what i'm asking is based on this information is engineering a good career for me to go into? If so suggest a field. If not what other careers might I be interested in?

1) Most programs in biomedical engineering have a pre-med track. Students from biomedical engineering have a very good chance of getting into Medical School because the schools appreciate students who also can understand the technology. Medicine involves a lot of technology these days! 2) Almost all areas of engineering involve some aspect of biomedical engineering. I believe that anytime you are working with technology that will directly be used by or on a human being, you are doing biomedical engineering. If you are interested in designing medical devices like heart monitors, that would be biomedical or electrical engineering as well as give you experience with the medical field. If you'd like to develop a prosthetic arm for a person with a disability, that could be biomedical or mechanical engineering. Robotics is a very big application of engineering that incorporates aspects of biomedical, electrical, and mechanical, and robotics can be used in medical as well as other disciplines. 3) Many schools call the degrees difference things. Electrical engineering is the most common term. If there is another term, you would need to talk to the school directly to find out what the difference is. 4) The great thing about engineering is that you would be welcome in any field once you have that degree. And you will be a better engineer because of your other interests. You may want to go to a college that encourages you to continue your interest in history, art, and other things.