Maria Trinh Anderson
Engineering and healthcare have always been twin, interrelated pursuits for Maria Trinh Anderson. Specializing in Biomedical Engineering during her SFU undergraduate degree, she later worked for a biomedical engineering company before moving on to a medical imaging company.
And now? She’s closing in on a career as a family physician.
“There was always a medical purpose to my engineering jobs and medicine has always been a goal for me too,” says Trinh Anderson, before adding, “Actually, the surprise in my life was engineering.”
“I discovered I was good at science in high school and engineering appealed because it was very practical. And when it was time to choose my undergraduate path, the tech bubble was just taking off and there was a big push to attract women into engineering.”
She fondly recalls her time in SFU Engineering Science as her formative years. “We had great professors and a high level of camaraderie among the students, many of whom I’m still friends with today. It was a hard program but it taught me I could really do anything I set my mind to.”
Eventually entering the engineering job market – Trinh Anderson was a systems engineer for seven years – she later switched to medical training via a four-year MD program. Currently engaged in a residency that will lead to her becoming a family physician, she recalls a time when her medical and engineering training suddenly combined in the same room.
“I was assisting in an orthopedic knee surgery and we were looking at the X-rays on a piece of software I’d helped develop. Then I applied a tourniquet I’d also helped develop. It was the first time all my training and education had come together,” she says with a smile.
But it likely won’t be the last. Trinh Anderson expects her career to always be a dynamic balance between public service medical practice and pioneering technology projects – she’s currently helping develop a mobile app for doctors.
Whatever happens next, though, she’s already left her mark on SFU. Trinh Anderson founded the university’s Women in Engineering Group (WEG), a supportive networking organization that’s still thriving today. “When I was a student, there were many efforts to recruit women into engineering. But after the initial enrolment boost the numbers began to drop. I started WEG so we could encourage each other to stay in the program.”