Impulses (April 2016)

First, we spoke with Levi Lewis, a 4th year BME from Atlanta, Georgia.

Erin: Are you happy with your major choice & experience as a BME?

Levi: “If I’m being honest, no. I wish I had chosen a different major. If I could go back, I would have minored in BME and majored in something else. I’ve learned a lot as a BME, and I feel like I have an incredible breadth of knowledge in multiple engineering fields (and a ridiculous work-ethic & open-mindedness as a result). I think I’m also especially experienced and valuable in design-based collaborative engineering projects. However, my lack of specialization puts me at a disadvantage when trying to market myself in the current engineering industry. I think my degree will have far more value in 10 years, as industry culture & values evolve, than when I graduate next year… So short answer is no! From a short-term perspective, I really enjoy my electrical engineering depth electives and sometimes wish I had chosen to major in electrical engineering with a biomedical engineering minor. From a long-term perspective, yes.

What I’ve learned in BME – comprehensive and efficient problem solving and thought processes, experiential engineering-design applications, and extensive knowledge breadth – will be valuable and serve me moving forward into whatever field I choose to enter.”

Levi Lewis

E: What is your dream job?

L: “Coming in as a freshman, I wanted to go into cancer research and the medical device/nanotechnology industry with a cancer-curing or cancer symptom alleviation application. My goal is still that, but, as I’ve made my way through my BME degree, I’ve learned my strengths and weakness, and learned that I do not have as much of an aptitude for physiology and research as I originally thought. My dream job now is anything involving a mechanical and/or electrical engineering design of products and devices that serve a human purpose and tangibly improve a person’s quality of life.”

E: What is your main stress at the moment?

L: “For the past few weeks, my main stress has been uncertainty about my looming but necessary decision between research or a minor. I’m still unsure of what I’m more interested in pursuing long term, but my choice is time sensitive due to my graduation date (next May!). The combination of imposed urgency and my indecisiveness is the main source of my stress right now.”

E: What are your hopes for the near future?

L: “After I make it out with my BMED degree, I’d like to go to grad School – probably in electrical engineering. I’m really drawn to circuitry applications in healthcare, and I would like to be involved in product development engineering-design and research within that realm.”

Next, we spoke with Benjamin Wibonele, a 4th year BME from Tanzania who moved to GA when he was 10 years old.

E: Why did you choose to study biomedical engineering?

Benjamin: “I became interested in engineering during 8th grade, and I developed an interest in medicine during high school. I knew by the end of my sophomore year in high school that I wanted to be a physician, but I also knew that I wanted an engineering degree and background. I chose biomedical engineering, because I appreciated how Georgia Tech’s BME program incorporated a premed and pre-health track that complimented its engineering curriculum and prepared students more than sufficiently for the MCAT.”

E: Are you happy with your major choice & experience as a BME?

B: “Yes, I am very content with my major choice, and I am grateful for my experiences and opportunities as a biomedical engineering student.”

E: What are your hopes for the near future?

B: “I graduate from Georgia Tech in 2 weeks, and I will be attending med-school, Morehouse School of Medicine, next fall.”

E: What is your dream job?

“I want to go back to Tanzania after graduating from Morehouse to serve as a physician and to help develop, improve, and reform Tanzania’s healthcare system and infrastructure.”

Benjamin Wibonele

E: What is your main source of stress at the moment?

B: “If you had asked me that 6 or 7 months ago, I would have immediately answered you with, ‘medical school acceptance.’ Now that I’ve gained acceptance to a school that I’m very happy and honored to be associated with, I feel blessed & confident in my call & direction. My main source of stress at the moment is based on financial concerns and the risk of future debt, but I am leaning on my trust & faith to ease my worries.

Also, senior design [laughs]. Our team’s capstone exposition is in 2 weeks, and we’re all learning ECE & prototyping acumen (in the process of meeting with & interviewing our stakeholders and the constant research & design refinement) in order to develop a final product that we feel will be useful and that we will be proud of. The product development process is fun but also hectic, detail-dependent, complex, and incredibly time-consuming. I’m excited to present and then put the senior design project behind me.”

E: What helps you stay motivated, focused, and purposeful in times of stress?

B: “I was fortunate to grow up in a family of strong faith, and my center has and will always be rooted in believing in something bigger than myself and my life’s circumstances. My faith is the # 1 thing I lean on, and it helps me find meaning in my most difficult times.

I am also very aware of the immense suffering, human exploitation, and injustice in the world, and sometimes this causes me far more distress than school work or my personal adversities. As I grow older, I unfortunately believe with less & less doubt that suffering is a commonality that all humans experience, at varying intensities, in life. Aware of this truth, I find my peace in knowing that I am doing all that I can to pursue God’s will, serve the world and His people, and alleviate suffering to the best of my ability in any and every situation.”