Purdue's online Master of Science in Biomedical Engineering opens door to a new career for program's first graduate

Several years after earning her undergraduate engineering degree, Hannah Taggart felt the need to refresh her knowledge and skills. Purdue University's online Master of Science in Biomedical Engineering gave her that opportunity and focused Taggart on a new career in medical devices and regulatory affairs.

Hannah Taggart earned her bachelor’s degree in engineering science and mechanics with plans for a career in engineering, but life happened. Her husband’s career as a Marine Corps Officer kept them moving station to station and she had four daughters along the way. She was also able to find time for a master’s degree in teaching and taught high school math as the family moved around every few years. But while she enjoyed teaching, engineering was her passion and she felt it calling to her.

When she decided to answer the call in 2021, the family was stationed in Hawaii and  several years had passed since earning her undergraduate engineering degree. Before applying for an engineering job, she felt the need to refresh her engineering education. And she got that – and more – with Purdue University’s online Master of Science in Biomedical Engineering and Purdue’s Regulatory Affairs and Regulatory Science for Medical Devices Graduate Certificate.

"I felt like I needed to refresh everything I did in undergrad because it had been so long, and through that process I also identified a specific area that I was interested in, and that has 100 percent led to a job in industry and it did so very quickly for me," Taggart said.

Even before she finished the last semester of her Purdue master’s degree, Taggart landed a job with Empirical Technologies, a Colorado-based medical device testing and regulatory consulting company. She’s part of Empirical’s regulatory consulting team. It’s exactly the kind of job she was hoping for and, like her master’s, the position is remote so it fits perfectly with her life.

Online graduate programs from Purdue’s College of Engineering are ranked No. 2 nationally by U.S. News & World Report, 2023. As Taggart researched online master’s programs, she determined that Purdue offered the selection of biomedical engineering courses, along with the academic challenge, that she wanted – “the same level of education that I would get in person. Purdue won out over and over again as I looked at different programs.”

Taggart always had a broad interest in biomedical engineering and working on her master’s focused that interest on medical devices She was also able to add the regulatory affairs and science for medical devices certificate, to help make herself more marketable.

Purdue offered the rigorous, boundary-pushing curriculum Taggart was looking for to enhance her knowledge and skills. The consistent structure of the courses laid out clear learning objectives from the start and the milestones that needed to be met to achieve those objectives, but with flexibility that allowed Taggart to create a schedule that worked for her around family commitments, and later family and a job.

"The faculty was fantastic in terms of understanding that many of us distance students had jobs outside of school and were juggling other things and were not in the same time zone," Taggart said. "They worked the schedule to accommodate all of that, so that made it a lot more comfortable for me to be successful in this program."

Classes are taught by the same world-class faculty who teach on Purdue’s flagship campus. Taggart said the program allowed for ample interaction with her instructors and with fellow students, including through interdisciplinary team projects in multiple courses, which she found to be a valuable learning experience and networking opportunity.

"The assignments had real-world application," Taggart said. "It wasn't busy work. They were assignments I have seen now that I'm in the industry."

Taggart’s Purdue experience not only refreshed her engineering education and helped her narrow her interests down to the medical device and regulatory fields, she also was able to cite its practicality in her job search. Older and entering the industry for the first time, she was concerned about her job prospects going into her search.

"I was afraid that I would not be an ideal candidate and that was not the case," Taggart said. "I attribute a lot of that to Purdue, to their program, to the reputation of this program. It has a lot to do with why I was able to get the job and why I think I've been successful at that job so far. I was well prepared. When we started looking, I immediately said to my husband there's no way that there's an online program that's going to give me a master's in biomedical engineering. I didn't believe that it was out there, and it was, and not only was it out there, it was also a fantastic, very reputable, highly ranked program."

For more information about Purdue University’s online Master of Science in Biomedical Engineering, visit the program website. For information about the Regulatory Affairs and Regulatory Science for Medical Devices Graduate Certificate, see this website.

Writer: Greg Kline, 765-426-8545, gkline@purdue.edu