ECE Student Profile: Catherine Canby

Canby will work for Apple before pursuing a law degree

Every year, the Grace Hopper Celebration brings together women technologists from around the world for a conference centered on empowering women in computing and technology fields through a career fair, speakers, and mentoring circles.

For electrical and computer engineering graduate Catherine Canby, the conference changed her life.

During the 2018 trip with nearly 50 Northwestern Engineering students, Canby secured her post-graduation job as an engineering project manager with Apple during the conference career fair.

Catherine Canby“Attending the conference gave me lots of exposure to different tech companies, and I attribute my position at Apple to going to that conference,” Canby said. “That wouldn’t have been possible without McCormick.”

During her time at Northwestern, Canby, who also earned a managerial analytics certificate from the Kellogg School of Management, pursued opportunities beyond her engineering studies.

Canby participated in the Institute for Student Business Education group, in addition to helping lead Northwestern’s Society of Women Engineers chapter, tutoring her peers in GEN_ENG 205: Engineering Analysis 1, and serving as the president of the electrical and computer engineering honor society. She also interned at Medtronic and PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Canby felt supported by the ECE department throughout her four years at the McCormick School of Engineering. Allen Taflove, professor of electrical and computer engineering, particularly took an interest in her career path since her first quarter on campus.

“I had a really, really great experience in the ECE department,” Canby said. “My long-term goal is to go to law school, and the faculty was really supportive of me even though that’s not a very traditional career path.”

The collaborative culture drew her to Northwestern. “I was looking for was a student body where the students weren’t just really engaged in the classroom but also really engaged outside of the classroom -- students who wanted to work together, who wanted to push each other to do better, but also students who had other interests other than just engineering.”

Canby is interested in using her engineering skills as a patent lawyer in the future.

“A lot of engineers go into patent law because you need to understand the engineering side of projects and technologies to understand how they work to protect their patents and figure out what to litigate on,” Canby said. “I think that’s fascinating, so I’m really excited about the future.”