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Monday, Nov. 24, 2014

Multimedia: Featured

Engineering after Princeton: Catherine Toppin


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In this profile, 2002 alumna Catherine Toppin discusses how her Princeton engineering education helped prepare her for a thriving career as a patent attorney. Read more.


Video Closed Captions

[music]

Catherine Toppin:
I'm Catherine Toppin, and I graduated from
Princeton in 2002 in electrical engineering,

Catherine Toppin:
and I'm currently a patent attorney at Edwards
Angell Palmer & Dodge in Boston, Massachusetts.

Catherine Toppin:
It's my job as a patent attorney to serve
as an advocate for inventors and companies

Catherine Toppin:
who own intellectual property rights.

Catherine Toppin:
The framers of the constitution thought of
this as something that was important:

Catherine Toppin:
thinking of an idea, being innovative and
then being rewarded for doing so.

Catherine Toppin:
To be an engineer means to be an analytical
thinker, to approach problems in a very systematic way,

Catherine Toppin:
and to have a general level of comfort
with technology in whatever form.

Catherine Toppin:
I definitely felt like I was at an advantage
having an engineering background going to law school.

Catherine Toppin:
Once you learn what it is that your legal professors were
expecting of you and how they wanted you to approach

Catherine Toppin:
legal problems it was very, very easy to
transition those analytical skills

Catherine Toppin:
to legal problems in law school.

Catherine Toppin:
I feel as though engineers can do any type of job,

Catherine Toppin:
and it's just that problem-solving mindset that
is very useful in a broad range of career paths.

Catherine Toppin:
The reason I keep going and come in to work
hard every day is because I feel as though

Catherine Toppin:
my contribution is going to be extremely vital
to the success of other people.

Catherine Toppin:
I have to admit that there are some personal
goals and things I would like to obtain.

Catherine Toppin:
There are also siblings and people coming
behind me whom I'm kind of helping to pave the way for.

Catherine Toppin:
I love walking to work because it's my personal
time. Not only is it just great exercise,

Catherine Toppin:
but Boston is a beautiful city.

Catherine Toppin:
It provides me with a couple hours of my day
that's solely focused on me.

Catherine Toppin:
And I also call my mom from time to time and let her know how
I'm doing in the big city... or the small city.

Catherine Toppin:
I'm very involved in the Princeton alumni
community. I'm the president of the Association

Catherine Toppin:
of Black Princeton Alumni, vice president
of the Princeton Association of New England,

Catherine Toppin:
and I'm on the national board of the Princeton Prize
in Race Relations.

Catherine Toppin:
I'm not sure that any Princeton volunteer exactly knows all
the reasons why they do as many Princeton functions as they do,

Catherine Toppin:
but I have to say that Princeton is like a
big family to me. I have mentors and colleagues

Catherine Toppin:
who are Princetonians. Some of my best friends are Princetonians,

Catherine Toppin:
and I just find that the network continues
to produce a number of high-quality people

Catherine Toppin:
that you don't just come across every day.

Catherine Toppin:
I'm Catherine Toppin, and I'm a Princeton engineer.

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