Engineering students invest awards in the future of their discipline

These bioengineering students see the value in engineering education.

Awards have two principal viewpoints: giving and receiving. As I’m sure you know, “Tis better to give than to receive.”  A group of bioengineering students from UCLA wasn’t satisfied with the status quo, however, so they decided to do both.

The chain of events started with a senior capstone project. The group of students (pictured blow, left) consisted of Derek Go, Jaideep Dudani, Ankit Gupta, Gayane Kocharyan, Roxanne Loo and Nova Wang. This team developed the P-MED device which is used for “personalized monitoring of enzyme dynamics.”

As Derek Go, a co-leader of the group, explains, “P-MEDcan help physicians develop personalized drug therapies by measuring how effective the treatment is before actually giving it to the patient.”

The device won the group 1st place in the 2013 National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering’s DEBUT Challenge in the diagnostic design category. It also earned them 2nd place 2013 National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance’s BMEStart Biomedical Design Competition.

 These awards were not an easy achievement. The project started with months of planning and research. That was followed by proposal writing and finally, prototype development.

As explained by the group’s mentor, Dino Di Carlo, associate professor of bioengineering, “They have to extend beyond their coursework to solve unanticipated problems, which often requires reaching into many different fields. The students have to make the case for why their approach is ideal and what problem it is solving.”

With this appreciation for the undergraduate research experience and the influx of award money ($15,000 total), they decided to encourage and support future students in undergraduate research.

This end was pursued through the donation of a significant portion of the award money to start a new research scholarship for bioengineering majors. It didn’t stop there, however. The faculty of the department were inspired by the students’ generosity and contributed to the scholarship fund as well.

Go explains, “The national recognition was already a great honor, and it was just by chance that we received this money. We felt that donating a portion of that money towards a research scholarship would have a greater impact on the Bioengineering Department and its future students.”

There is another saying, “Success breeds success.” With that in mind – and the investment these students have made in the future of bioengineering – I’d say giving and receiving both look pretty good.