The challenges engineers face today are more complex than ever. Many of these inherently interdisciplinary problems can only be solved when engineers from different fields come together. In addition to the expertise in a specific discipline, the ideal engineer would possess a breadth of knowledge as well as excellent team working and communication skills. My undergraduate education in Bioengineering and Electrical Engineering provided me with the breadth of knowledge the ideal engineer would need. Additionally, laboratory work and three years of research at the Human Photonics Lab (HPL) taught me invaluable lessons in research, collaboration, and communication. Now, at the end of my undergraduate career, I am confident that I am on track to be that ideal engineer.
While the Bioengineering curriculum exposed me to a wide spectrum of engineering coursework, I chose to specialize in Digital Signal Processing in my Electrical Engineering studies because it complements my research interests, which include biomedical imaging, auditory engineering, and speech signal processing. My projects at the HPL involve working with a unique 3D microscopy method, and require expert knowledge in signal and image processing. Its ultimate goal is to provide clinical pathologists a way to visualize optical transmission images of biopsies in 3D. Doing so would eliminate sources of errors from conventional 2D analysis, and can potentially increase the diagnostic accuracy of cancer and other diseases. Along with a sophisticated research project, the rigorous coursework from pursuing a double degree has prepared me to tackle any challenges in a carefully calculated manner. My dedication to my work and attention to detail resulted in significant research results that were published in the Journal of Cytology and Histology, contributed to a textbook titled “Advanced Biophotonics: Optical Tissue Slicing,” and helped the HPL win an NSF grant.
I developed many other essential engineering skills while doing research at the HPL. When I first joined the lab, the steep learning curve that greeted me was daunting, but necessitated the development of independent learning skills that can be applied to any situation. By presenting at lab meetings and research symposiums, I honed my presentation skills that allow me to flawlessly deliver my ideas. This was especially handy when writing research proposals and applying for funding. In a project as large as mine, I often coordinate with pathologists and researchers from outside the lab to discuss collaboration or consultations, allowing me to gain perspective and valuable experience in working collaboratively.
Prior to pursuing engineering, I wanted to go into the field of medicine. There is a certain sense of satisfaction and accomplishment when helping others around me, and I had believed that I can help the most people by pursing medicine. However, after studying and doing research in a field that combines medicine with engineering, I now believe that I have the potential to make an even broader impact and benefit many more lives. It is now my goal to pursue a Doctoral degree in Bioengineering before continuing on to a career in the biomedical industry. My experience and education at the University of Washington has thoroughly prepared me for this path.