A Brother's Love Inspires Engineer

Abbott engineer finds motivation to pursue STEM career from relationship with her older brother.

Strategy and Strength|Aug.26, 2021

The inspiration for a career in engineering came to Alyssa Dias when she was a child, even though she didn’t know it at the time.

She remembers watching as her mother worked with therapists to assist her older brother, Luke, who has severe autism and cannot speak.

"I liked seeing them help him build skills,” Dias says. “I was always waiting for my time when I could join in on something he was doing."

Those experiences instilled in her the motivation to be in a profession that would let her help others. But it wasn’t until Dias took Introduction to Engineering Design in high school that she found the path that would lead her to what she really wanted to pursue: a career in medical device engineering.

"I thought that was the perfect medium,” she says. "A profession that helps those who can’t help themselves but also folds in the creativity and innovation of engineering."


Dias spent two years as an Abbott high school STEM, or science, technology, engineering and math, program intern before choosing to earn a degree in Electrical Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

She continued to work with Abbott during college, completing internships for three summers in the vascular, nutrition and diabetes care divisions.

Now that Dias has her Bachelor of Science degree, she has returned to Abbott for a third time as a member of our Professional Development Program. A recent assignment puts her on the frontlines in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, helping train workers who make COVID-19 tests.

And while her career goal is to work in medical devices, she says the development program is teaching her about the varied opportunities available in engineering and different professional environments – experiences that will benefit her career in the long run.

"Work can be challenging," Dias says. "There are obstacles, but if you're working with a team that's equally motivated and passionate about what we're doing you'll be reminded that the work you're doing is positively impacting people's lives. That's the end goal."


Amid her busy schedule, coming and going from home in recent years for internships, college and work assignments, Dias still keeps in close contact with her brother Luke.

"He has this device and he can type out on a letter board what he wants to say," she says. "He'll say, 'Hi my loving sister'’ Sometimes, with help from our parents, he'll make a welcome home card."

For Dias, Luke is her emotional support and the reason she's continuing in her career path.

"Living with him gave me a good look at what life is like for someone who needs extra assistance, more vulnerable people," Dias said. "He's always there to give me hugs when I come home. When college was challenging, or work is more demanding, he reminds me why I’m doing this and motivates me to keep going."