Alumnus Spotlight: Derek Holyoak, Ph.D. ’18

Derek Holyoak

February 2, 2021

Derek Holyoak, Ph.D. ’18, is an alumnus of the biomedical engineering program at Cornell. He is now a senior associate in the Biomedical Engineering & Sciences Practice at Exponent, Inc.

Where do you work and what is your current title?

Exponent, Inc. as Senior Associate in the Biomedical Engineering & Sciences Practice (Biomedical Engineering Consultant).

Tell us about your current position and what you find rewarding about it.

My position as a technical consultant in the biomedical engineering field involves a mix of proactive biomedical research/testing and reactive scientific litigation. One of the most rewarding aspects of working at Exponent is the breadth of projects. I currently work with orthopedic devices, spinal restoration, women’s health products, MRI compatibility, and much more. In addition, Exponent consultants need excellent communication and business skills. When you mix the strong scientific/engineering background with communication skills, you end up with a very motivated, intelligent, and fun group of people to work with.

How did your participation in the 3MT competition prepare you to succeed professionally? What skills did you learn?

Exponent is a fast-paced work environment. Communicating project updates in a timely manner is an essential part of the job. The 3MT taught me how to begin explanations with a big-picture summary, followed by technical details, which I have found is extremely effective.

If you could go back in time to the beginning of your graduate career, what advice would you give yourself?

Graduate school is an opportunity to experience high-level research in a massive number of fields. Although the depth of knowledge in your research area is critical during graduate school, spend some time to learn about and actively participate in labs, classes, and research outside your niche area.