MS-MPE Alumni Feature: Jordan Barzensky

By: Nicole Bohatch, CMI Fellow

Jordan Barzensky head shot

I recently had the opportunity to talk with Jordan Barzensky to learn about her experience in the MS-MPE program and how it helped prepare her for her career.

Jordan’s higher education journey started at Seton Hill University located in Greensburg, PA. In May 2021, she received her Bachelor of Science in Biology and Mathematics. She majored in Biology and Mathematics in order to have a strong STEM background that would be applicable to Bioengineering.

“I always knew that I wanted to go to school for Bioengineering or Biomedical Engineering; it was just a matter of finding a program that worked best for me.” After considering applying to PhD programs during her undergraduate education, she decided that she ultimately wanted to be involved with the hands-on aspect of the medical device industry. This decision led her to apply to the MS-MPE graduate program at the University of Pittsburgh. Jordan knew she wanted to go to a larger university with a strong engineering offering to pursue her master’s degree in Bioengineering, and the MS-MPE program was a great fit.

Jordan began the MS-MPE program in Fall 2021. When discussing the transition from a smaller to larger university, she said it was easier than expected. While on a larger campus, the MS-MPE class sizes are on a smaller scale. This allowed Jordan to develop both personal and professional relationships with her professors and other faculty that are involved with the MS-MPE program. She further mentioned, “Every connection I made in graduate school was one that furthered my growth as an individual and further propelled my career”.  

Another aspect of the program Jordan appreciated was the strong collaboration between herself and her peers on projects and assignments. She enjoyed being able to work with individuals of different backgrounds and set differences aside to reach their goals. Even though her background was not in engineering, she felt that she made meaningful contributions to class projects because she presented ideas from a different perspective with her biology and mathematics background. Jordan said, “Everyone in the program has the same goal of furthering the wellness of individuals - [that goal] is just reflected in different ways.” By learning to work closely with her peers during her time in the MS-MPE program, it greatly prepared her for the medical device industry where collaboration is essential to success.

Jordan advised current and prospective students of the MS-MPE program to “embrace the opportunity to pursue new opportunities”. The MS-MPE program, through its emphasis on networking and internships, grants its students ample chances for career discovery. At the beginning of the program, Jordan thought she would later pursue a career in clinical engineering. It was not until she had a few internship opportunities that she found her passion to be in product management. After completing a summer internship with MSA Safety in their fire service division, she was offered a full-time position after graduation in December 2022. Earlier this year, she began as a Product Line Manager for Industrial PPE, working specifically with fall protection devices.

While discussing the link between her experience in the MS-MPE program and her current position, Jordan stated, “We often have a saying at MSA Safety that goes, “Our products are used on what could be the worst day of someone’s life.” For example, a worker could suffer a major fall or be exposed to a raging fire, and we need our products to deliver in those moments. This is why working at MSA is so humbling and rewarding – and also why I appreciated the MS-MPE program so much. MS-MPE emphasizes excellence in the ideation, development, and prototyping process of creating products. Spending the time to get it right directly correlates to creating products in industry that users can trust in their most vulnerable moments.”