The Biomanufacturing Education and Training Center (BETC) at WPI welcomed a fresh new face this summer: Evelyn Bermeo, a 16-year-old budding scientist who spent her vacation as an intern in the center’s pilot-scale labs. Bermeo, a rising junior at Worcester Technical High School, was selected for this internship among other peers interested in the biotech field.
“I was looking for something challenging and thought provoking for the summer,” she said. “I didn’t want to be bored.”
Bermeo certainly got her wish; she said it was hard to sum up a day in the life as an intern at the BETC, because “there haven’t been 2 days that are the same,” she said.
Cell culture has a “special place” in Bermeo’s heart, and after some exposure to the upstream process in her biotech shop at Worcester Tech, the BETC was a natural choice for her summer. “It’s very challenging and you have to focus very hard,” she said. “When you’re in the hood, you’re not focused on anything else.”
Such intense focus came in handy as Bermeo picked up skills in new technologies and techniques, like working with bioreactors and doing profusions of mammalian cells. “I had no prior knowledge of large-scale production,” she said. “Seeing the huge fermenter and learning CIP and sterilization was intimidating at first, but really interesting.”
Biotech wasn’t the first thing to spark Bermeo’s career interests. As part of the first generation of her family to be on track finish high school and pursue higher education, and the first person in her family with an interest in STEM, she nearly went into nursing. “I could have gotten my CNA by the time I graduated high school,” she said. “But there was something about biotech, and seeing everything on such a small scale, that was really interesting to me.
“You can impact the lives of so many people, with things you can’t even see.”
As for what comes next, Bermeo plans to stay close to home for college and career, since biotechnology is such a “rapidly growing industry” in Massachusetts.
“There’s no need to go to New York or elsewhere when there are lots of great biotech programs and companies right here,” she said.
Does Evelyn’s story inspire you to pursue a new path? Enroll in our Fundamentals of Biomanufacturing program. This 8-week program has evening courses to accommodate your 9 to 5 work schedule. Enroll now.