When I was in kindergarten, I wanted to be a doctor.
The summer before my senior year of college, I wanted to be a doctor.
Are these two statements the same?
So since I’m from the 80s, I can tell you that I was a Doogie Howser fan.
I used to want to save lives by performing surgeries and hold a defribillator in my hands and say “Clear!”
As a kid, I jumped around and had a tour of careers: judge, astronaut, movie star, video game designer…you get the gist.
And then in 6th grade at the state spelling bee, I mispelled the word prosthetics. (I still blame the man reading the words, but then, in retrospect the prize for first place was a set of encyclopedias. Then the internet became popular, so HA!)
I never really forgave myself for that day back in 1996, and it’s probably a good thing. How else would I have learned about bioengineering?
Fast forward to MIT circa 2003.
Bryan arrives on campus.
I still danced around the major I wanted, AeroAstro, EECS, Biology, ChemE…aye so many choices.
Eventually I settled on Mechanical Engineering, and for me that was a good decision given what I could select from. I still wanted some biology in my life though, so I thought a while about double majoring in biology, but I decided against that one and went for the biomedical engineering minor instead.
Up until the middle of my sophomore year, I still wanted to go into medicine.
That’s when I started to change my mind.
Having taken a lot of engineering classes by then and having a UROP in a bioengineering lab, I began to change my perspective on things. I really liked applying engineering concepts to biology, and I really didn’t like the idea of just doing medicine. At this point, I just kind of knew I wanted to go into bioengineering. I wasn’t positive about the PhD thing until about 3 weeks ago.
But I guess the question is can someone who studied mechanical engineering go into a bioengineering program? Simple answer: yes.
What particularly interests me about bioengineering is in the area of biomechanics and cellular fluid dynamics. I like thinking about how mechanical properties either those inherent to the cell or those in the local environment of the cell influence behavior. Biomechanics on different length scales is a very big aspect of bioengineering programs these days, so I’m safe. For me, it was a good decision to get a handle on the purely mechanical aspect of things before trying to apply those principles to biological systems because in biological systems, a lot of the phenomena has yet to be understood or quantified. These systems however are so complex that I’m pretty sure that while I like biomechanics that I won’t be able to completely ignore all the other aspects such as signaling, kinetics, etc.
And why a PhD?
1. I still want the title of Dr.
2. I really want to be able to learn how to design a research project and see it through, and that is best accomplished in my opinion by getting a PhD.
So as I look on Facebook and see everyone who wants to go into bioengineering, it’s not surprising. It’s a really hot field in my opinion with a lot of unanswered questions. Just keep in mind that there are a lot of areas that you can go into and a bunch of ways to end up in the same place.