The BioTECH Quarterly
MIT BMES 10 Year Anniversary: reflection
"A difference today
is that there are more class offerings to bring together students from
the different majors, whereas we were much more scattered across different
courses and only really found one another late in our junior & senior
years with the 6.021/6.022 series."
Congratulations on your 10th anniversary, BMES!
BMES now — I can't believe how organized and extended BMES has become over the years — your website looks great, and you clearly have a large working agenda. It was all we could do to muster a career fair and get UROP positions online! It is nice to see that the same faculty that were so instrumental in assisting BMES in the beginning are still active advisors — Professors Griffith, Kamm, and Lauffenburger as well as strong faculty support and fresh enthusiasm from Professors Sherley and Lang.
BMES then — in some ways, the reason we started BMES is still very pertinent today — without a major, an organizing body is really needed to bring students together with common academic interests. It's still really the only way for students across the whole campus to congregate as a discipline. A difference today is that there are more class offerings to bring together students from the different majors, whereas we were much more scattered across different courses and only really found one another late in our junior & senior years with the 6.021/6.022 series. I think that once a major is available, BMES will be more useful in the standard roles like other academic societies, providing intercollegiate, extracurricular, and professional opportunities.
Defining BME — that's a tough one! (see page 4) Especially as I was not aware of the BioE vs. BME distinction in my undergrad days. My Ph.D. is in bioengineering, and at University of Washington (where I attended graduate school), they used that title to encompass applications beyond those that are strictly medical. The growth within the field has been huge over the last decade, and students today have so many more options for graduate programs than I did. I think faculty from different sub-specialties of BME were originally excited to have cohesion with other cross-disciplinary people and were eager to band together under the label BME. However, the challenges remain in reaching a consensus as to what is an appropriate curriculum in BME/BE, and what an employer can expect in background from a person hired with a BME/BE degree. This is not just an MIT-specific issue.
My BME Experience — after working for a protein crystallography
physicist over my freshman summer, I decided that it might be nice to
be in another discipline and apply it to biology rather than be a bio major.
I selected the Nuclear Eng. major sort of by default, looking for what
I wanted for coursework and finding the course number that best fit with
its requirements. Course 22 has a radiation science track focused on medical/biological
applications, allowing me to get a great engineering background with individual
attention as well as take many pre-med/BME like classes. When the BME
minor was started my junior year, I hardly had to add any classes to
fulfill it, and I was fortunate enough to UROP in the lab of Prof. Yanch,
who is affiliated with HST and focuses on radiation applications in medicine.
I'm now back at MIT as a postdoc in Prof. Doug Lauffenburger’s lab, and
am happy to talk to BMES members about their choices in major and career
Engineering Society of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
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