Biological Systems Engineering alumna, Carla Rampy (‘99), is the President and CEO of Quality Agents, a work force solutions company in Rockville, Maryland that provides validation engineers and quality assurance resources to assist pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies. Quality Agents was formed because Rampy believed that she didn’t have to choose between being a mother and having a successful career.

“I feel like when women have children, there’s this expectation that we have to compromise, and I don’t think we have to,” Rampy said. “You can have a great family life and work life, if you have the chance and I love being able to provide this opportunity for other female engineers.”

Rampy makes it her personal mission to uplift fellow female engineers because she remembers a time when she felt insecure about her own abilities while being a student in the BSE program at Virginia Tech. “At one point, I felt unconfident, and I doubted that I could complete the program. Everything felt too hard, and I thought I was too dumb,” Rampy said.

Her mentor at the time, Dr. Foster Agblevor, a former BSE professor, reassured her that she was here for a reason and challenged her to create opportunities for herself, maintain her self-discipline and drive, and continue believing in herself. This conversation with her mentor and the advice she received resonated with Rampy throughout the rest of her undergraduate education and would serve her well in her engineering career. 

Carla Rampy photographed with her parents on her graduation day in 1999 at Virginia Tech. Photo courtesy of Carla Rampy.
Carla Rampy photographed with her parents on her graduation day in 1999. Photo courtesy of Carla Rampy.

Rampy received her Bachelor of Science in Bioprocessing Engineering in 1999 and would spend the next decade gaining experience in the validation engineering field and homing in on this area of expertise. She worked at various biotechnology start-ups, like AAC Consulting Group, Human Genome Sciences, MedImmune (now Astra Zeneca), and AAI Pharma. During this period, the biotechnology and biopharmaceutical industries in Maryland saw a significant boom and many companies began building more manufacturing facilities.

With Rampy’s extended experience in the validation engineering field, an opportunity arose to delve into the business development side of validation at a mid-level sized contract manufacturing organization in North Carolina. With a newfound interest in business development, Rampy enrolled at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington (UNCW) for their MBA program. After receiving her MBA and securing a $25,000 loan from her parents, Rampy started Quality Agents. Her business was so successful that she was able to pay back the loan from her parents within her first year of operation. Rampy’s business was thriving, and she had more flexibility in her schedule to be able to spend quality time with her son. She would describe it as living the best of both worlds.

During COVID-19, Quality Agents has played an integral role in validating temperature storage units that store the COVID-19 vaccine and studies that support vaccine manufacturing. When speaking on the value of the work done by Quality Agents, Rampy explained that her company is responsible for verifying drug approval information for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) before these drugs and treatment methods reach consumers. “It’s really important for a company like ours to exist in the grand scheme of the pharmaceutical world,” Rampy said. “Our company acts as a third-party reviewer and verifier to ensure all of the FDA’s information is accurate and true, so consumers can trust this data, knowing that it wasn’t reinvented or tampered with.”

Quality Agents at the 2021 Virginia Tech Engineering Expo. Carla Rampy is standing alongside BSE Class of 2020 graduates Samantha Bond, Kevin D'Andrea, and Ally Young, who all have joined Quality Agents post-graduation.
Quality Agents at the 2021 Virginia Tech Engineering Expo. Carla Rampy is standing alongside BSE Class of 2020 graduates Samantha Bond, Kevin D'Andrea, and Ally Young, who all have joined Quality Agents post-graduation. Photo courtesy of Priscilla Baker.

Quality Agents has grown significantly since its inception in 2010 with now thirty consultants running the organization and Rampy says she is always looking to hire more consultants. “We’re looking for disciplined engineers who have a strong will and character to get through rigorous programs, demonstrate a sense of flexibility, and be able to handle uncomfortable situations,” she said. Rampy encouraged interested students to learn more about any open opportunities on the Quality Agents website

Rampy has one final message to share with BSE students:

“To any student out there thinking ‘I can’t do it,’ ‘this is too hard,’ ‘I’m not good or smart enough’... I want to assure you that you're going to succeed and you’re not wasting your time or kidding yourself. It’s going to be great once you graduate, and when you start your job, you’ll learn how much better life can be.”

Written by Cameron Warren