Although she did not originally set out to be a project manager, she enjoys the exposure of working on pharmaceutical products and the opportunity she has to develop a cohesive project.

Rebecca Ford earned her bachelor's degree in biomedical engineering in 2011 from her number one choice school, The University of Texas at Austin. Today, as a project manager at Smith & Nephew in Fort Worth, Ford works with development of cell-based drug products for wound care.

Professors Laura Suggs and Ken Diller greatly impacted Ford while she was a student. She was in Dr. Diller's first biomechanics class, and for her senior design course, she worked on a startup project of his. She also received a lot of advice from Dr. Suggs about working in the industry.

"I learned so much from both Dr. Diller and Dr. Suggs. They both supported me in finding my first internship, which led to my first job, and now my current job as well," she says.

Ford first interned at SpineSmith, a medical device company that makes spine implants. As an intern, she worked on every aspect of what they have engineers do from quality control testing and quality assurance to standard operating procedures. She supported design engineers by doing research and gathering data on forces that would be applied to implants. SpineSmith offered her a job, and Ford worked there for her first year after graduation.

After that year, she reached out to Professors Diller and Suggs to let them know she was seeking new employment opportunities in Dallas-Fort Worth. Both gave her suggestions for different companies to reach out to, and they recommended calling UT Arlington's biomedical engineering program to see if they had connections. After some research and cold calls, she found the company HealthPoint Biotherapeutics (now Smith & Nephew). UT Arlington was able to give her a contact name, which helped her get her resume in the right hands.

She started out as an associate project manager, managing a product packaging project because she had similar experience at SpineSmith. After receiving her Project Management Professional Certification, she moved up to a full project manager position at Smith & Nephew. She helps bring cell therapy biologics for wound care to market. Specifically she works with drugs that treat burns, clean wounds, and allow chronic wounds to heal. She has a holistic view of projects and is involved with all aspects from testing, clinical trials, and interacting with the FDA to product development and product packaging.

Ford credits much of her success thus far to her alma mater.

"My experience at UT Austin prepared me with a background in biology and chemistry. And, having applied science experience through Engineering has helped as well. It would be difficult to manage projects in medical devices and pharmaceuticals if I didn't have that knowledge," Ford said.