Engineers make things. This was really the extent of my knowledge when I began my journey studying biomedical engineering four years ago. For me, I knew that I didn’t only want to be an engineer that made things, but I wanted to make things that made a difference. I wanted to build, create, innovate, and envision solutions to some of the world’s most pressing problems. These problems that I found myself drawn to were those of healthcare and medicine. Born the daughter of a doctor, medicine shaped my outlook on life. I saw the world around me through a lens that left me questioning how we can make people healthier and happier.
Through the Grand Challenge Scholars Program, I was given an outlet to look more analytically at many of the world’s problems and to explore innovative solutions to these pressing issues. As a biomedical engineer with a deeply engrained passion for health and wellness, I found myself drawn to issues faced in healthcare, medicine, and the human body. For this reason, it was important to me to focus my efforts in this program towards engineering better solutions in these areas. Unsurprisingly, I chose to focus my program efforts in the Grand Challenge theme of health.
According to the National Academy of Engineering (NAE), there exists 14 Grand Challenges for Engineering in the 21st Century. These 14 challenges lend themselves to five overarching themes: Health, Energy, Sustainability, Security, and Education. Of the 14 main challenges, three directly lead into the theme of health. These include: reverse-engineering the brain, engineering better medicines, and advancing health informatics.
As a Grand Challenge Scholar, I was able to explore ways to accomplish these feats through quantitative research, interdisciplinary education, entrepreneurial endeavors, global perspectives, and service learning. I worked to engineer better medicine by providing data-driven support for preventative medicine techniques through over two years spent researching ways to use texting technology to encourage healthy lifestyle behaviors in adolescents. I expanded my understanding of these challenges through interdisciplinary and global perspectives gained in unique coursework covering food, culture, genetics, and technology. As a budding entrepreneur, I pursued several startups aimed at using technology to better the lives of children suffering from disease. I also used the innovative platform of EPICS to dive into service learning through engineering projects in community service.
This program has allowed me to not only think critically about the world that I live in, but it has opened my eyes to where I fit in the greater landscape of engineering, entrepreneurship, and healthcare. In having had the opportunities to understand the problems and needs facing our engineers today, I feel much more equipped to go out and make a difference in my future endeavors and career. Upon graduating from Arizona State University in May, I plan to work in the world of entrepreneurship through outreach and community building. I believe that our true power to solve the world’s most pressing problems lies in our ability to connect and network with one another, sharing specialties, skills, and ideas in order to find the best solutions.