First off, my name is Shaun Wootten. The Grand Challenge Scholar's Program (GCSP) has broadened my education in ways a traditional engineering degree could never do. The program pushed me to be involved in research early in my college career, learn about different cultures, give back to the community, and strive to become an entreprenuer. GCSP has enlightened me in what it means to be an engineer and how to find solutions to societal problems. I pursued the grand challenge theme of health with the challenge of engineering better medicines. The health arena needs engineers to develop new medicines and devices to relieve pain, find someone hope, and take on the challenges that are caused by potential pandemics and epidemics. I believe that engineering better medicines will have the greatest impact in society because health is something that everyone needs and people cannot live without.
Starting off my college career I pursued a degree in biomedical engineering. Studying Biomedical Engineering at Arizona State University I met several brilliant professors who aligned with my interest in the engineering processes of the human body. One was exploring new ways to utilize DNA, while another was developing synthetic gene circuits to reprogram cells using CRISPR/Cas9 technology. I wanted to take part in this journey to unlock the mysteries of the human body, while maintaining an engineering mindset, which drove me to pursue bioengineering. Biomedical engineering had a broad scope that immersed me in all aspects of traditional engineering: chemical, mechanical, electrical, and civil. While researching DNA I knew I needed a better foundation in biology and chemistry so I added a concurrent major in biochemistry. Biochemistry filled in the learning curve of the biochemical processes in the human body.
Learning and applying engineering to the human body led me to start thinking about how to convey those ideas in the business setting. An engineer finds solutions to problems, but an entrepreneur can find a solution to a consumer need and convey that solution to their target market. After traveling to Israel to learn more about entrepreneurship and talking with CEOs and venture capitalist I decided to pursue a minor in business to have more of a grasp on traditional business practices: marketing, accounting, finance, management, and economics. With the several degrees that I have pursued combined with GCSP I have positioned myself to be able to communicate in all areas of the engineering industry, which I believe is an invaluable skill.