Student Spotlight: Priya Chacko, MechE LGO ’24

Why LGO?

I had been working as an engineer in the medical device industry for years before I decided that I wanted to make a significant change in my life. At that time, I wasn’t exactly sure what that change would look like – Did I need a new challenge or a new role? Should I move to a different city/state/country? Should I go back to school? Graduate school had always been something that I wanted to experience, but I wasn’t sure when I would fit that into my career. I had a ton of questions that I needed to work through, and the COVID-19 pandemic gave me plenty of time to do just that.

In my role at the time, my projects started to move away from engineering and take on more of a strategic lens, and I quickly realized that I really enjoyed working on these higher level business questions.

I hoped to learn more about business and operations in the context of engineering and manufacturing, and while I was receiving some of that education at work, I wanted to dedicate more concentrated time to it. It felt like an appropriate time in my career to pursue graduate education, so I started looking into both graduate engineering school and business school options.

I really liked the idea of a dual-degree graduate engineering + business school, and when I found the LGO program, I did a ton of research to figure out whether it would be a good fit. I knew that if I was planning to leave my job and go back to school, I wanted to really dive into it and attend a top program. For engineering, MIT definitely fits that description, and I was excited about the opportunities at Sloan to complement this education. In talking to current LGO students, I was really encouraged by the community of the class as well as the involvement of the alumni network, and I found myself wanting to be a part of it. I thought that LGO would be a great place to continue my development, make new lifelong friends, and pursue my professional and academic interests… and after one year here, I can gladly confirm this to be true.


What has been your biggest takeaway from your time at MIT so far?

MIT has been an amazing experience so far! There are so many resources for so many topics that it’s really up to you to figure out what you want to pursue. Professors and classmates alike are working on such interesting projects that it creates this energy around here that is unlike anything I’ve experienced before. It’s so exciting! There are a ton of really unique and enriching experiences out there, so I have been trying my best to take advantage of every opportunity. There’s definitely a balance to be had between trying to attend every workshop or speaker series and honing in on what you’re interested in, and while I’m still sorting out what that looks like for me, I’m certainly enjoying the process.


What are your hopes for diversity in LGO and in industry?

Our class is 31% women and 69% men. While the Ladies of LGO have created a strong community, I would love for this number to reach parity in the near future! I think our collective LGO experience, both within and outside the classroom, would really benefit from having a stronger presence of women. In general, I hope that LGO as well as industry continues to recognize the importance of diversity and takes intentional steps to move towards a future of better representation.


What is the coolest project you’ve been able to work on since coming to MIT and LGO?

In the fall, I took Professor Traverso’s Translational Engineering class with a small group of LGO and IDM students. The seven of us spent the semester working on creating a waist circumference measurement device to be used in obesity management. We were not only responsible for designing and prototyping this device and bringing that design to life, but we also had to develop the legal strategy, business plan, and clinical testing design. The class sessions featured speakers from a variety of industries that led lectures on interesting topics and helped guide us in our project. Working with my classmates on this project made for such a fun semester, and the many hours we spent together was great bonding time. Our group chat for that class is still active to this day, and I’m sure it will remain active for years to come. I feel as though I got a taste of what it takes to successfully translate a new biomedical technology, and I’d highly recommend this class for anyone who is interested in translational engineering and up for an exciting challenge.


Do you have any advice for prospective LGOs?​

Do your research, and follow your passions! The application process may seem intimidating, but it’s worth it!

Remember that you are more than your application and you are certainly more than just one aspect of it, so try not to get stuck on one thing or another. Your application should be a holistic reflection of who you are, and it should highlight both why the LGO program is right for you as well as why you are a good fit for the program. In your application, try to think about how you will enhance the overall class experience, rather than just about what LGO can do for you.

When I was in the process of applying to graduate and business schools, I tried to attend as many events (webinars, student chats, etc.) as possible to learn all that I could about the programs. At the time, I was interested in a few other programs as well, so it really helped to hear the perspective of current students. I learned about their experiences and asked questions about why they decided to choose LGO. I found the LGO team (admissions staff and current students) to be really open and welcoming, and the conversations I had with them helped me better understand how I could both contribute to and benefit from a program like LGO.