Aptima Job Shadowing- Lauren Kennedy

Name: Lauren Kennedy

Role: Doctoral Student

Program: Translational Biology, Medicine and Health

Meeting: Aptima Job Shadowing (2016)


With the help of the VT BEST program, I was able to travel to Dayton, OH to shadow senior biomedical engineer Scott Pappada and senior software engineer Noah DePriest at Aptima.  Founded in 1995, Aptima has adopted a focus on human-centered engineering to improve human performance.  With offices across the country, the engineers and leaders of Aptima are paving the way in human performance assessment.


Shadowing Scott and Noah on this visit provided me my first insight into what a research position in an industry setting looks like.  Even more valuable was the relevance of their work to the research I am currently conducting in our lab.  While gaining a new perspective through which to view research, I simultaneously had the opportunity to network and form new meaningful, professional relationships with industry leaders in my field.  This provided me the opportunity to ask questions pertaining to my professional and academic development.  In this way, I learned what a day in the life of a government contractor in a relevant field might look like, and could start to picture myself in that environment.


For students and academics considering entering the world of industry, I would urge you to seek out similar experiences.  As someone who has been entrenched in academia, the industry mindset was incredibly different from my own.  For example, every month Scott, Noah, and other engineers throughout Aptima have a certain number of hours to devote to each project they are working on.  This means that the amount of time spent on every project is tracked and logged each and every day to meet the diverse requirements of these diverse projects.  This illustrates a degree of time management in this workplace that is not inherently established in the world of academia.  This is one feature of many that I did not expect to differ too greatly between industry and academia, but one that has a major impact on my envisioned career trajectory.


I would encourage anyone who has an interest in careers outside of one’s previous experience or knowledge to take advantage of the opportunities afforded by the BEST program.