Cornell Engineering: A Virtual Visit

Learn More About Cornell Engineering


Meet Jonathan

Major: biomedical engineering
Hometown: Sugar Land, TX

Why Cornell?
I knew that I wanted to be challenged in all aspects of my scholarship. I chose Cornell because of the well-established engineering program and emphasis on learning inside and outside of the classroom. The amazing project teams, distinguished faculty, and gorgeous scenery of Ithaca drew me to Cornell.

Why biomedical engineering (BME)?
I’ve always been fascinated with the intersection of engineering principles and biology stemming from my curiosity of modern medicine. I chose BME because the field blends my interests to help improve human health. I think the most interesting aspect of BME is the ability to use computational methods to predict cellular/molecular patterns.

How did you decide on your BME concentration Molecular/Cellular/Systems Engineering (MCSE)?

Jonathan receives the Irwin and Joan Jacobs Scholar Award.

After taking BME 1310, Intro to Biomedical Engineering, I was fascinated with the intricacies of the wet lab experiments. I chose the MCSE concentration because I wanted to learn more about how cells and molecules interact. I also wanted to gain a computational foundation to learn how to model biological problems.

What are some of the most important skills or lessons you’ve learned while pursuing this major?
I’ve learned to always be open to learning. The BME coursework, representative of the entire field, is quite diverse and requires learning new skills that are not already in your skill set. Being open to learning allows you to grow in ways you wouldn’t think were possible!

Any interests outside your scholarship?
Outside of the classroom, I am currently the Vice President of the Cornell Biomedical Engineering Society and a member of Theta Tau. As a member of the Cornell University Biomedical Device project team, I am designing a watch-like wearable device used for monitoring multiple sclerosis progression. The device would monitor a user’s muscle mobility, motor skills, and balance. To do so, it employs the use of different sensors that would track electrical neuromuscular activity based on different motor stimuli. This project allows me to further develop my biomedical instrumentation knowledge learned in my classes, while applying the real world aspects of device design and user considerations.

These experiences have shaped my Cornell experience by providing me with a community of biomedical engineers, hands-on experience with the design process of medical devices, and the development of my professional skills. I have also enjoyed helping incoming students into the major through my experiences as a TA for BME 1310 and BME 2010.

Last Summer, I was an Engineering Intern at Medtronic, within their Active Implantables and Pumps subdivision, where I worked on the manufacturing side of medical device changes. In previous summers, I helped co-organize a Model UN conference in China, with the Cornell International Affairs Society, and built a website consolidating information about covid-19 during the Cleveland Clinic and Case Western Reserve University virtual internship.

Apart from engineering, I am interested in photography, baking, and website building.

What stands out to you about your Cornell BME experience so far and why?
I will cherish BME 3030, Measurement and Instrumentation in Biomedical Engineering, because the hands-on labs provided me with a foundational understanding of circuits and sensors to detect biological phenomena. The class was a rewarding experience as it allowed me to replicate an established standard for detecting heart/respiratory rate. With all of the skills learned from the BME coursework, I plan to complete a wearable device, with my design group, for the BME Senior Design class!

What’s next for you?
After graduation, I will be working full-time at Medtronic as a Sourcing Engineer within the Active Implantables and Pumps subdivision. My time at Cornell and my internship allowed me to explore my passion for medical devices and helping people through biomedical engineering. In the future, I hope to create accessible medical devices that have a real-world, positive impact on human health.

Meet Parker

Major: biomedical engineering
Hometown: Acton, Massachusetts

Why BME?
When I came to Cornell to join the engineering college, I had never heard of BME before. I knew that I wanted to apply math and science in practical ways to help people, and I was really interested in human biology, but I had always thought that there was no way to connect these two together. When I first learned about the BME program at the Major Fair, I knew immediately it was what I wanted to do because of how it interfaced biology and engineering. BME lets you understand human health in a completely unique way, and gives you the tools to make real differences in healthcare through innovation and understanding.

How did you decide on your concentration, Biomechanics and Mechanobiology (BMMB)?
Choosing a concentration was difficult for me, since I felt there was really interesting content in every distribution within the major. I work in the Butcher Lab, which focuses on researching the mechanics of tissues within the heart and how they develop, which gave me a deeper appreciation for how important mechanical interactions are to issues in human health. I’m very happy with the specialization I’ve gotten to do choosing BMMB and being able to make it my own through my interest in fluid mechanics and simulation; but what I appreciate most about the program is how we got to learn a little from each concentration, allowing us to be competent in multiple fields. It’s a skill that lets us be more valuable members of the interdisciplinary teams you need to be successful in the industry.

What have you learned while pursuing this major?
I feel like I’ve picked up a lot of important skills over the past few years, but the most important has absolutely been to have confidence in my own work. Imposter syndrome runs rampant through every college, but the project/design based assignments in BME, like the senior capstone project, have taught me how important it is not to second guess your abilities. Everyone has something great to offer in a team, and you have to believe in your ability to contribute to reach your goals.

Any advice for other students considering BME?
In my opinion, the most important thing to consider when joining BME at Cornell is to be open to learning about the many different topics in the discipline. For me, it was really cool to see how mechanical, electrical, and systems engineering all interfaced with human biology in different ways, but it can be difficult if you have to take a whole semester studying things outside of your interest. If you keep an open mind, there is something useful from every class you take here which can really help you in the long run.

Parker pictured at the BMES conference in Orlando, FL.

Any interests outside of or in relationship to your scholarship?
In terms of extracurriculars, the first thing that comes to mind is undergraduate research. I’ve been really lucky to have the opportunity to work in two different labs in my time here, first at the Nydam Lab at the Cornell veterinary school, and for the past three years at the Butcher Lab in Weill Hall.

My research project is centered around 3D bioprinting, a process where we can engineer tissues to mimic those in the body, and even embed living cells in them – but my work is specifically around trying to push the limits of how tall and complex the prints can be by changing how we cure the material using UV light.

I’ve learned so many things from my research experience, from lab techniques to project and time management, and owe a lot of that to my Ph.D. student Ben Albert. The lab has a great culture and collaborative ideology, and it’s always a blast to be in the lab with everyone. I would really recommend anyone interested in research to give it a try at least once during their college experience!

The other really significant aspect of my experience here has been the Boxing Club. I spent a semester as a member my sophomore fall, and it was another example of a great culture and community here at Cornell. This semester is my second time acting as a club officer, where I get to run meetings and help foster that culture that I enjoyed so much earlier on.

What stands out to you about your Cornell BME experience so far and why?
Having the opportunity to go abroad to Spain during my undergraduate career was something really special, especially because it’s generally difficult to study abroad as an engineer (and sometimes more-so as a BME). While my time was cut a little short by COVID, spending a semester with a totally different group of people from all over the globe brought me a lot of world perspective. Madrid was also the perfect place to focus on improving and refining my Spanish, and I was still about to complete engineering coursework to stay on track with my degree by taking equivalent courses at ICAI Comillas. Definitely an unforgettable experience!

Parker and Butcher Lab members at a holiday party.

What’s the next step for you?
I’m super happy to say that I’ve been accepted into the M. Eng. program here at Cornell for BME! I knew that there were lots of advantages to pursuing a graduate degree, and I wanted to continue being part of the Cornell BME collaborative spirit with a graduate level design project. The moment I realized that this was definitely the path I wanted to take was at an information session for the BME M. Eng., where Dr. Newton De Faria explained what makes this program stand out in the biomedical graduate sphere. I have to thank him and my advisor Dr. Shivaun Archer for pushing me to strive for this, and hope to use the knowledge and skills I gain there to make both programs proud!

Favorite quote that helps inspire you in your work/life?
It’s not quite a quote, but one of the most impactful stories on my motivation is of Elena García Armada, President and CEO of Marsi Bionics, a Madrid-based medical device company specializing in pediatric gait exoskeletons. In a podcast interview on entrepreneurship, she said that she had always seen herself as a scientist and an engineer, but never an entrepreneur; but when she realized that the only way to get her product to children and change lives was to make it a startup, she was committed to do whatever it takes to get it there, including entering a whole new world outside of her own. I never felt confident enough that I could start my own project and get it off the ground, but after hearing that, I knew that I needed to be equipped for whichever way I can make the world a better place through BME.

A photograph of Cornell ENgineering student Reina in front of a painting

Meet Reina

A photograph of Cornell ENgineering student Reina in front of a paintingMajor: biomedical engineering
Hometown: Shizuoka, Japan

Why did you choose Cornell and/or Cornell Engineering?
I loved the enormous opportunities Cornell offered such as meeting with friends from various background, attending clubs, joining in research project, etc. Also, all of the students I met during virtual visit were very supportive and welcoming.

What is your favorite thing about Cornell Engineering?
I love the people here! Many professors here are so dedicated to teaching and helping students. Students are also so passionate about their study and extracurricular activities.

How do you get involved outside the classroom?
I participate in research, Cornell Chamber Orchestra, and Engineering Ambassador.

How was your experience adjusting to Cornell?
It wasn’t easy but many people offered me help including an Engineering Advisor, an orientation leader, RA, etc.

Cornell Engineering student Jamie

Meet Jaimie

Cornell Engineering student JamieMajor: biomedical engineering
Hometown: Berkeley Heights, NJ

Why you choose Cornell Engineering?
I loved the breadth and depth of Cornell Engineering and how it would enable me to explore so many of my areas of interest both in class and through project teams and research.

What is your favorite thing about Cornell Engineering?
Students’ drive to accomplish great things.

What do you do outside of the classroom?
I am involved with two project teams (Concrete Canoe and Engineers without Borders), research, the Society for Women Engineers, and I am a member of Greek life.

A photo of Cornell Engineering student Sami

Meet Sami

A photo of Cornell Engineering student SamiMajor: biomedical engineering
Hometown: Austin, TX

Why did you choose Cornell?
I chose Cornell mainly for the school’s academic diversity. I was interested in engineering but unsure whether to pursue that completely or explore other areas. Biomedical engineering in particular offered me the chance to explore a broader range of areas. I was also attracted to Cornell because of its vast offering of athletic clubs, interest groups and the diversity of the student population. Finally, after visiting many other campuses, I just felt most at home at Cornell.

How did you decide on your BME concentration? 
I chose to pursue Molecular/Cellular/Systems Engineering (MCSE) because it seemed like the most applicable concentration—my interests have always surrounded small-scale interactions in the body rather than instrumentation or drug delivery.

Any interests outside of or in relationship to your scholarship?
I completed an internship last summer at Gartner, Inc. in Washington, DC and I will be joining that company full-time upon graduation. For 2 1/2 years, I worked in Dr. Fischbach’s lab doing research on the breast cancer microenvironment and how it impacts morphology and metastasis. I am one of the captains of the Cornell A women’s ultimate frisbee team, the Wild Roses, and have been an important part of the team for four years. When I am not running practice or planning tournaments, I am cooking or baking.

What stands out to you about your Cornell BME experience so far and why?
My favorite class has been Dr. Cosgrove’s class, BME 3110: Cellular Systems Biology. It combined my interest in cellular systems with computing-based data analysis and helped me to direct my next steps post-graduation. I also really enjoyed Dr. Yu’s class on Biomedical Data Science this past fall.

A photo of Cornell Engineering student Samantha

Meet Samantha

A photo of Cornell Engineering student SamanthaMajor: biomedical engineering
Hometown: Philadelphia, PA

Why did you choose Cornell Engineering?
I chose Cornell Engineering because of the many opportunities to apply what I’ve learned outside of the classroom to real-world solutions in a positive community. I love that I get to apply skills from the classroom to real world scenarios in the form of project teams and research alongside supportive staff and peers!

What is your favorite thing about Cornell Engineering?
My favorite part about Cornell Engineering is the ability to immerse myself into subjects that may not directly be from the department of my major. I can truly take classes on subjects that I am curious about and have it count towards my degree requirements. Last semester I took a song-writing course!

What do you do outside of the classroom?
I am on the project team Engineering World Health, where I help to come up with electrical engineering solutions to global health issues alongside companies. I am also active in research on medical techniques and devices! I am also a supporter of educational equity, so I help plan related events and awareness based on campus with the support of program housing and the school’s public service center.

A photo of Cornell Engineering student Grant

Meet Grant

A photo of Cornell Engineering student GrantMajor: biomedical engineering
Hometown: Woodbury, MN

Why did you choose Cornell Engineering?
The schools that I narrowed my decision down to were Washington University in St. Louis, Johns Hopkins, and Cornell. I visited all of them and found that I didn’t much care for Baltimore or St. Louis. Additionally, the fact that the biomedical (BME) program was so new at Cornell was actually a selling point for me. It meant that we would probably be worked a lot harder than at peer institutions as Cornell tried to prove that their BME students were just as good or better than those at peer institutions. The youth of the program also meant that we would have the opportunity to help shape the program. It didn’t hurt that Cornell’s campus was the most beautiful of every school I visited.

What advice might you give other students considering BME?
Never, ever be afraid to ask for help. There are so many resources in place at Cornell to help you succeed and there is no shame in getting help to be successful. It’s something I’ve always struggled with because asking for help means showing vulnerability and admitting that you don’t understand something. But I’ve come to learn over four years that no one knows everything and while it may seem that some of your peers know far more than you, I guarantee you have knowledge that they don’t. If everyone is willing to ask for help, then everyone’s knowledge increases.

What stands out to you about your Cornell BME experience so far and why?
Professor Cosgrove’s class is probably the best class I’ve taken in the BME curriculum. He’s such a great guy and truly cares about the success of all of his students. I also had a pretty weak background in coding and his class improved my ability to write code for simulations and troubleshoot. Additionally, I’ve seen some of these signaling cascades in other biology classes before, but it is so hard to imagine what is happening with all of these feedback loops. I thought it was so cool that we learned how to simulate these cascades so that by changing some initial concentrations upstream we can see how the entire cascade responds and even look at the time dependent behavior of individual components.

What’s the next step for you and who or what has led you in this direction?
Starting this summer I will be working in New York City at the Tisch Multiple Sclerosis Research Institute for a period of two years as I round out my application before applying to medical school. I am taking this path because I want to spend more time doing research to decide if I want to be an MD or an MD/PhD. It also gives me an opportunity to spend more time volunteering and shadowing before entering medical school.

A photo of Cornell Engineering student Ben

Meet Ben

A photo of Cornell Engineering student BenMajor: biomedical engineering
Hometown: Wayland, MA

Why did you choose Cornell Engineering?
I chose Cornell because of the opportunities that are available to undergraduate students. I knew I wanted to study engineering in college. Cornell offered strong majors in every field of engineering and has a diverse array of research, organizations, and clubs available for students to pursue. I also loved that Cornell has so many different colleges with so many classes outside of engineering to choose from.

What advice might you give other students considering BME?
I think the first thing I would say is to get involved! There are so many labs, clubs and project teams on campus. Find a bunch of professors who do research on something that interests you, seek them out, and talk to them—they’re happy to share what they know and might offer you a change to work with them. For those considering BME I would say that at its foundation, biomedical engineering is about helping others. If that is what you like, then this is a perfect major for finding creative solutions to difficult health problems.

What do you do outside of the classroom?
Throughout college I’ve been fortunate to be a part of an engineering project team and to participate in undergraduate research. For three years I was part of Cornell’s Baja Racing project team as a business team member. Later on, as I shifted my focus to research, I have also been a part of the work going on in two labs (Dr. Wang and Dr. Putnam) where I have researched biomaterials and novel drug delivery systems. Outside of Cornell, I have had two summer internships, one in research and development at Moderna and the other in process development at Biogen.

What’s the next step for you?
Although I am graduating in May, I am enrolled in the Master of Engineering early-admit program at Cornell, which is designed to allow seniors in engineering to begin graduate studies early and graduate with a Masters Degree with only one additional semester of school. I chose to do an M. Eng in BME in order to continue research and sharpen my lab techniques. Afterwards I plan on working in Pharmaceutical R&D or process development in the Boston area.

A photo of Cornell Engineering student Stephie

Meet Stephie

A photo of Cornell Engineering student StephieMajor: biomedical engineering
Hometown: West Bloomfield, MI

Why you choose Cornell Engineering?
My dad was a Cornell engineer who put Cornell on my radar very early, and told such great stories of his time here that I had to check it out! The more I looked into Cornell Engineering, the more convinced I became that it was right for me with all of its incredible educational, extracurricular, and groundbreaking researching opportunities.

What is your favorite thing about Cornell Engineering?
I love the community of dedicated, helpful, and hard-working people I have met in Cornell Engineering. It would be difficult to find a more devoted and talented group!

What do you do outside of the classroom?
I am involved very extensively in extracurriculars. I am an Engineering Ambassador, I perform research in the Fischbach Lab, I am president of Engineers for a Sustainable World project team, a Leadership Assistant with a local hospital volunteering organization, and on the board for Tau Beta Pi (the national Engineering Honor Society). I also work as a tutor for freshman and sophomore engineering classes, and love dancing on Rise Dance Group!

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