Dropping Diagnostics to Build Something
Deva Chan's dream job is working as a photographer for National Geographic. In real life, however, photography is a "money-consuming hobby" while she works toward a degree in bioengineering at the University of California, Berkeley. In addition to her studies and her photography avocation, Chan also balances a lab job and a boyfriend. Add to this daunting list the role as president of the university's Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society. Not surprisingly, she lists "balancing and prioritizing" as the most difficult challenge.
When Chan arrived at UC Berkeley, she planned to pursue science and math with the long-term goal of getting into med school. But along the way, she discovered a new interest. "I took a lot of science and math and liked it, but when I took a couple of engineering classes, I changed my mind about what I wanted to do," says Chan. For Chan, there was a conceptual difference between medicine and engineering. "I liked the idea of applying what I've learned rather than doing diagnostic work."
The most surprising quality of university life for Chan was the accessibility of professors. "A lot of people are afraid to approach professors and staff," notes Chan. "But they're a lot more approachable than people think."
E-mail Deva at email@example.com
Working with Cells and Numbers
Amy Shi arrived at MIT expecting to study biology. But along the way, she discovered an interest in numbers. "I realized I liked working with a concrete basis for decisions and facts," says Shi. "I wanted to do medicine either as a radiologist or a pediatrician. I thought I would do pre-med at MIT, but now I'm interested in engineering applications in medicine."
So Shi blended her fascination with math and her interest in biology and decided to major in chemical engineering with a minor in biomedical engineering.
Shi is the current president of MIT's Biomedical Engineering Society, plus she works in a biomedical lab, involving the cutting-edge work of identifying markers for somatic stem cells. Under the guidance of her mentor, James Sherley, Shi is working with fibroblast cell lines. "Our aim is to find a relationship between the centrosomes inside the cell and the way chromosomes are selected."
After graduation, Shi plans to study biomedical engineering in graduate school. Ultimately, Shi wants to continue her research work at a biotech or pharmaceutical company.
E-mail Amy at a_shi@MIT.EDU
Hammering with Math
Joe Fan's future was mapped out early on, ever since he developed a love for math as a child. For young Joe, math was as "tangible and concrete" as a tool. "Math is like a hammer," insists Fan. "It gives you direction and backs up opinions." Fan is now putting math to work in his studies at the Industrial Engineering and Operations Research Department at the University of California, Berkeley.
When he finishes his studies, Fan expects to take his engineering tools to the abstract challenge of designing logistics systems. "I would like to work on logistics for a company with a huge network of offices and warehouses," says Fan. "I want to work on both the engineering and financial planning involved in logistics networks."
For the moment, Fan heads up Berkeley's chapter of the Institute of Industrial Engineers. Through IIE, Fan gets exposed to a variety of job possibilities for engineers. "We bring in professionals who talk about what kinds of careers are out there," he says.
Fan chose to study at Berkeley after visiting Northwestern and Columbia. Part of the reason he settled on Berkeley was his love for the area. "I had friends who recommended Berkeley, but it wasn't just because of the school. I also really liked the Bay Area."
E-mail Joe at firstname.lastname@example.org