Have you had any memorable experiences during the program?
When first entering the BioE program, I knew I had one goal to pursue right away and that was to get a Co-Op in the medical device industry, specifically orthopedics. After help from the Co-Op office I interviewed with Zimmer Biomet to work in their quality engineering department my spring of sophomore year. Pitt’s Co-Op program is one of the main reasons I chose this University and it did not disappoint. Not only was I leading meetings and assisting a launch of a knee replacement by my third rotation with Zimmer Biomet, but Pitt made sure to build a relationship with my company to ensure I was getting real hands-on experience throughout the entire year. I also enjoyed the aspect of each student participating in research as a part of the Bioengineering program. I got to go from the big scale industry to the small-scale research side of things by studying the effects of aging in decellularizing mouse livers. Not only did these two contrasting experiences allow me to find which path was my driving passion for post-graduation, but I gained countless connections and mentors that lead me to my next big experiences in undergrad.
How has the Pitt BioE undergraduate program helped you grow?
The Pitt BioE undergraduate program has been a challenging and incredible experience. Due to its core classes covering all concentrations, I had developed strong relationships with some of my professors in my most difficult classes to grow intellectually. Through its classes that pushed collaboration preparing me for senior design, I grew as a leader and teammate that I will take with me for the rest of my life. In general, my industry and research experience tremendously encouraged me to reflect on my strengths and weaknesses both in and out of work to continue to grow and self-evaluate. My greatest growth from this program has come from all the exposure to what Bioengineering can entail. It does not pigeon hole a student to a certain post graduate career but offers so many courses to allow students to find what drives them to take on the challenges of bioengineering and use their strengths to make some incredible products or solutions. These variety of courses helped me build confidence in topics I at first never thought I would succeed in and pushed me to ask questions and continuously work at what was most difficult. Finally, I have to say I grew as a teammate, whether that be leading or following in a project or study group. I have made some incredible friendships through long study nights, and newfound friendships through group projects that I cherish from this program.
Any advice for future bioengineering students?
I would advise any future Bioengineering Undergrads to take advantage of the design clubs and opportunities the Swanson School of Engineering offers. Design Hub is a great way to meet people in all different departments and put what you learn in class to designing a product. It allows a team to interact with clinicians and a variety of professionals in the medical field to solve a current problem that will serve as a solid foundation for Senior Design and beyond. My advice for any undergraduate engineer would be to plan early and if you have a goal but you think your schedule may stop you, ask questions, plan your schedule, and you can make it happen. The Swanson School of Engineering does an incredible job of helping students go abroad, get Co-Ops, research positions all over the world. I could not be happier with being fortunate enough to Co-Op and Intern with some of the biggest medical device companies, while still finding a way to study in South Africa. This would not have been possible without the faculty being so passionate and invested about helping you get the most of your undergraduate experience, so ask as many questions as possible to accomplish all that you want while here!
What are your future plans?
I am very excited to have accepted a job as an Associate R&D Engineer with Medtronic Spinal and Biologics. After traveling Europe in May, I will be moving to Memphis, Tennessee for this position. It has been a dream of mine to work in orthopedics for a medical device company like Medtronic with an inspirational mission that can be truly seen in their work environment on a daily-basis. I look forward to this next chapter of my life!
Why should someone choose Pitt BioE?
The BioE program is unique and challenging. A family-like environment quickly forms between the students, instead of a competitive atmosphere. It pushes you to utilize your full potential and shows how a bioengineer can follow their passion to make an impact on patients’ lives.