Mariana Grinblat (MEng 8T6) started her career in medical biology doing research in immunology and teaching microbiology and biology. At 38 she was ready for a change. Grinblat, now retired, recently sat down with Jennifer Hsu from the Department of Chemical Engineering & Applied Chemistry’s external relations office to share her journey into engineering and the joy that the profession has brought her. The following is an edited version of their interview.
What motivated you to switch from medical biology to engineering?
I was close to 38 and my kids were grown. I knew I wanted to do something different and experience new challenges. I was ready for a career change. I spoke to a friend of mine, a professor of microbiology at the University of Toronto. She suggested that I look into Industrial Hygiene and Occupational Health, a MEng program in the Department of Chemical Engineering & Applied Chemistry. I made an appointment, applied and was admitted into the program.
Did you face any challenges during the transition?
At the time when I started my thesis, my late-husband fell ill. He had a rare disease that required kidney dialysis. As a woman in engineering, I also felt the pressure that most women in engineering will experience. There were people who questioned my capabilities but many more who supported and believed in me. Today I am retired from a profession that I love, and I can say without a doubt that one of my proudest moments was when I walked down the graduation line to receive my MEng diploma.
Would you be able to briefly describe your engineering career path?
I worked as a safety officer for the federal government, enforcing the federal legislation in health and safety. I also taught industrial hygiene and occupational health at Ryerson and George Brown, and eventually became president of the Association of Industrial Hygienists of Ontario. When I retired from the federal government, Stephen Harper who was Prime Minister at the time presented me with an award that still hangs proudly in my home. Today, I speak to many young women in engineering to remind them to always have belief in their talents and to go after their goals.