Laura Peter ‘86, deputy director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, took some time to speak with Andrea Ippolito ’06, M.Eng. ’07, Cornell lecturer in engineering management, about inequality in science, navigating the patent process, and their shared love of aerospace engineering. Read more about A conversation with Laura Peter ’86, U.S. Trademark and Patent Office deputy director
Alumna finds her Co-op experience invaluable
Some people know what they want to do for a living from a young age. When they are adults and you ask them, their answer starts with some variant of the phrase, “For as long as I can remember, I have always wanted to…”
Andria Ronne ’14 is NOT one of these people. “When I was a kid I really liked to tinker with things,” she says. “I loved math and science, but I also enjoyed doing ballet, drawing and writing. When it came time to choose a major, I went with engineering because there were a lot of engineers in the family.” Even after graduating with a B.S. in mechanical engineering from Cornell’s Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering (MAE), Ronne’s interests have remained broad. Currently, Ronne is working as an associate marketing manager for medical device manufacturer Conformis in Billerica, Massachusetts.
Conformis converts CAT scans of a patient’s knee into a 3D digital model. The company then fabricates patient-specific surgical tools and prostheses. “I’ve found a great fit in product management,” says Ronne. At the nexus between sales, marketing and product development, product management gives Ronne the opportunity to use her engineering skills to translate customer needs into product features and creatively message new products.
An important step in Ronne’s career path was the Co-op experience she had at Cornell.
“One of the reasons I chose Cornell was the fact that the Engineering school had a co-op program,” says Ronne during a recent call from her office at Conformis. “The program is special in that participants are usually able to graduate on time. When I visited Cornell, I got a really good feeling.”
As a sophomore, Ronne submitted her resume for the co-op resume booklet and was contacted by a representative of the medical device company Zimmer Biomet. It was a great match for her interest in biomechanics. “I was Zimmer’s first Cornell student,” says Ronne. “Altogether, I spent seven months in Warsaw, Indiana, working in two different departments of Zimmer so that I could get a broader taste of just what they do.”
That “broader taste” gave Ronne some vital information: “My co-op experience was very valuable,” she says, “because it showed me that I didn’t want to be a practicing engineer.” That does not mean that Ronne returned to Ithaca from Warsaw and changed her major. “I didn’t do that,” says Ronne, “I loved engineering and wanted to continue to study it. But I did change my career aspirations. Having a scientific approach and an analytic mindset are incredibly valuable, and that is what engineering teaches.”
When asked if she would recommend the co-op program for current Cornell Engineers, Ronne did not hesitate. “Yes, absolutely. For me it was invaluable. It is a very low-risk chance to try something new,” says Ronne. “I certainly recommend it for people who are interested in exploring options and who just might want some practical experience as a way to help them decide.”
For more information on Cornell's Engineering Co-op Program for Undergraduates, visit the Co-op webpage.
"I have been able to conduct research in a lab and be a teaching assistant for two courses. I believe that the BME major helped a lot when I was applying to Ph.D. programs, in that I could discuss current research with professors at a high level due to the number of papers I have read for my classes." Read more about Alexander Sorets, B.S. '19