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Abbott's Top Engineer Receives Advocating Women in Engineering Award

Corlis D. Murray shares why she recruits and fosters STEM talent.

Abbott is No. 10 on the DiversityInc Top 50 Companies list


(Originally published on Abbott.com)

Corlis D. Murray

Corlis Murray's grandfather farmed cotton in Louisiana for most of his life. Though he had just an eighth-grade education, he was quick as ever with numbers – something he passed down to his children and grandchildren.

When his 17-year-old granddaughter, Corlis, mentioned to him in passing one day that she planned to become an engineer, he paused.

"Honey," he said. "Why on earth would you want to drive a train for a living?"

Corlis wasn't talking about trains, of course. She was talking about building things, making things. Everything that exists, after all, she'll tell you, has been engineered.

More than 40 years later and today Corlis is the top engineer at Fortune 150 global healthcare company Abbott. On Oct. 27, 2017, she accepted the Advocating Women in Engineering Award from the Society of Women Engineers for her work on the company's STEM education and recruitment initiatives. The investment in "demystifying" science and engineering for young women and minorities is an investment in the innovators who will create the next generation of breakthrough healthcare products that improve and save lives, she says.

A similar investment was made in her at just 17 when IBM chose her out of her inner-city Dallas class to complete a summer internship. Quitting her $1.76-an-hour job at Jack in the Box may have seemed like a big deal at the time – but the decision changed the trajectory of her life.

"That summer demystified engineering for me," Corlis said. "It's the first time I truly understood what it meant to be an engineer and the impact you could have on people's lives."

Her mentor was an African-American man who taught her primarily how to troubleshoot technical problems on mainframe systems – the brains at the time of a computer's operating system. But he also looked like her, and his example reinforced for her that she, too, could be an engineer if she wanted to.

She wanted to.

The road was not always easy. There were times she was passed up for promotions, only to learn the reason was her ethnicity, or her gender.

"I was just stubborn enough to push past those obstacles," Corlis said. "I wasn't going to let who I was, my gender, or my ZIP code dictate where I ended up in life."

This past year, the Oscar-nominated film Hidden Figures – which tells the story of the African-American women mathematicians who helped successfully launch John Glenn into space as the first American to orbit around the earth – stirred up a nationwide celebration of those who have been "firsts" in their fields.

"It was inspiring to see how many young girls watched the film and the inspiration they, in turn, took away from it," Corlis said. "But it was also somewhat disheartening for me, because there is still, even today, so much work to be done."

Only about one out of every seven engineers today is a woman. Less than 4 percent of engineering degrees are awarded to African Americans. And the gap grows the higher you get – for example, just 3 percent of master's degrees in science and engineering go to minority women along with less than 1 percent of doctoral degrees.

A big reason for that is girls don't consider STEM careers viable options – or don't even know what they're all about, because they're seldom exposed to them. Almost 60 percent of girls say they never consider a career in STEM and just 10 percent of girls say their parents would encourage them to think about a career in engineering. With a strong belief that it's important to reach future STEM talent early, six years ago, Corlis worked with Abbott to start a high school internship program.

"You can tell how passionate she is about our success," said Evon Lopez, who landed her first engineering internship at Abbott at just 15 years old. "She makes us want to succeed, and she doesn't take it easy on us. These are hard projects. We're expected at a really young age to learn how to work as professionals and to speak up with our ideas."

Almost 90 students have participated in the program to date and 97 percent go on to pursue a STEM degree or end up in a STEM career. Though there are no admission guidelines on gender or race, based on the schools the students come from, typically about two-thirds of interns are young women and about 60 percent are minorities.

Corlis is also involved in other groups advocating for women and minorities in STEM, including Women Leaders of Abbott, the Black Business Network, and Abbott's other STEM initiatives around the world, which have reached more than 200,000 participants since their inception.

"If I let the odds dictate my future, I certainly wouldn't be doing the work I do today," Corlis said. "It's an honor to work at a company dedicated to both investing in the innovators of tomorrow and inspiring those from diverse backgrounds to both discover and pursue their dreams."

Abbott: Top Internship for Healthcare and Tech

Interns have spoken: Abbott is the top college internship program for healthcare and tech & engineering.

Originally Published by Abbott.

Abbott recognizes the need to develop its future leaders early, and has been named the top healthcare and tech & engineering internship program by Vault.

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New Study Shows Abbott's Novel Diagnostic Test Could Help Rule Out Heart Attacks Earlier

Preliminary research indicates that a diagnostic test currently in development, that is done at the patient's side in minutes, has similar accuracy to a high-sensitive troponin test for early rule out of a heart attack .

Originally Published by Abbott.

For someone experiencing cardiac symptoms in the emergency room, every minute matters as physicians determine whether someone is having a heart attack. New data, published online in JAMA Cardiology, found a new blood test under development that is done right at the patient's side in as little as 15 minutes could identify nearly three-fifths (56.7 percent) of people at low-risk of experiencing a heart attack, similar to the results of a High Sensitive Troponin-I blood test done in the laboratory setting.

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Abbott: Partnering for a Healthier Future

Abbott supports the First Ladies of Africa in the fight to end AIDS in children and keep mothers healthy.

Originally Published by Abbott.

In countries around the world, Abbott is working across its businesses and in partnerships with others to create healthier futures for families. One example: since 2014, Abbott's diagnostics business has supported the work of the Organization of African First Ladies Against HIV/AIDS (OAFLA – pictured above) to fight the AIDS epidemic in Africa, particularly among pregnant women and children – who are among the most vulnerable populations impacted by the disease.

At an OAFLA meeting on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York City, Abbott and several other organizations are being recognized by OAFLA for longstanding partnership and support, including public-private partnerships that bring together technical, financial and other resources to focus on a global health challenge such as HIV/AIDS.

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NEW COVERAGE DECISION EXTENDS ABBOTT'S INNOVATIVE PAIN THERAPY OPTION TO 22 MILLION AMERICANS LIVING WITH CHRONIC PAIN

Abbott is the only company in the world with FDA and CE Mark approval to offer dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurostimulation therapy to treat complex nerve pain conditions.

Originally Published by Abbott.

Abbott announced a new national coverage determination for the company's dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurostimulation pain therapy through Aetna®, a leading health benefits company in the United States. With this coverage decision, Aetna will provide more than 22 million medical plan members with access to Abbott's DRG therapy for people with chronic pain.

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Abbott: DRG Stimulator, A Life Changing Technology for Chronic Pain.

The new technological DRG therapy may be the key to easing daily tasks for those with chronic pain.

Originally Published by Abbott.

Living with chronic pain affects not just your body but also your mind. It can make getting around and getting along equally difficult.

But with innovation in health technology comes hope. Abbott has developed a new device found to be more effective than traditional therapy at relieving chronic pain.

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Abbott: Expediting Blood Testing With i-Stat

The portable, handheld i-STAT Alinity delivers quick blood test results anywhere you are.

Originally Published by Abbott.

Every day, countless blood samples are tested all around the world for one purpose: to help diagnose and treat medical conditions. From the couple eagerly awaiting the results of a pregnancy blood test to a worried cancer patient hoping for more answers, diagnostic blood tests give vital insight into what's happening underneath the skin.

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Abbott: Freestyle Libre 14 Day, Now FDA Approved

Abbott's flash glucose monitor now FDA-approved for two weeks of use in U.S. between sensor changes.

Originally Published by Abbott.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved FreeStyle Libre 14 day— Abbott's revolutionary continuous glucose monitoring system. In the U.S., you can wear the sensor up to 14 days with high accuracy.

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At Abbott, You Look Like An Engineer

Decades before #ILookLikeAnEngineer, Abbott paved the way for a non-profit dedicated to diversity in STEM.

Originally Published by Abbott.

#ILookLikeAnEngineer.

Remember this? A few years ago, a young software engineer was featured in a recruiting advertisement, only to be accused of not being an actual engineer. Frustrated with the assertion, Isis Wenger started a movement to break the stereotype of what an engineer should look like.

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