STEP Reflection 10.08.17

  1. Please provide a brief description of your STEP Signature Project. Write two or three sentences describing the main activities your STEP Signature Project entailed.

My Step project consisted of me working in a research lab over the summer to study the biomechanical forces involved in the cervix to prevent pre-mature birth. To study this I had to learn how to use COMSOL modelling software, and try to model the cervix to the best of my knowledge from current papers and ongoing research.

  1. What about your understanding of yourself, your assumptions, or your view of the world changed/transformed while completing your STEP Signature Project? Write one or two paragraphs to describe the change or transformation that took place.

While completing my STEP Signature Project, I had learned how much work actually goes into a research project. Most of the time during this project, I spent learning how to use the software and be able to code with it. Even with my efforts I was not able to create something sufficient enough that could be used in the field, but it showed me how almost every single engineering aspect in my education can be used in modelling software. This project also gave me insight into the community of university research and how competitive it is. To be able to fund anything you must prove a research model first as many labs run on grants. To continue to receive funding, research must be fast paced, as competition with other labs may impair ones research.

  1. What events, interactions, relationships, or activities during your STEP Signature Project led to the change/transformation that you discussed in #2, and how did those affect you? Write three or four paragraphs describing the key aspects of your experiences completing your STEP Signature Project that led to this change/transformation.

One of the most common interactions I had were the weekly lab meetings with the whole lab. It was very interesting to see how a lab communicated in a professional setting as they solved lab related problems as a team. A common day would include everybody giving an update on their own projects in a sequential order. If anybody had a conference or presentation, they would present their project in a more professional way and constructive comments about the presentation were provided to improve their presentation. Overall the lab meetings were always productive, and no time ever went to waste.

An activity that most of my project included was programming and working on COMSOL. I spent countless hours studying how to create models, how to program certain objects, and studying already made models to understand how COMSOL worked. My particular problem of modelling the cervix included me reading many research papers to better understand the correct biomechanics of the cervix. Throughout my struggle I learned to appreciate research a lot more, and how much time is dedicated to even a small model like mine.

These events affected me by teaching me how hard working a researcher truly is. To be able to succeed a team of individuals must be working together and fast enough to get a result. It was mesmerizing to see a real lab perform as a team, and discuss lab challenges, even my projects problems. The criticism they gave was very important to everybody’s improvement, and I even saw improvement in my own project by others helping me tackle my challenges.

Other interactions included one on one meetings with the lab advisor which allowed me to grow as a researcher more. Since many of the problems that I faced regarding my model were tough to solve, I was able to learn from my lab advisor by showing me examples

  1. Why is this change/transformation significant or valuable for your life? Write one or two paragraphs discussing why this change or development matters and/or relates to your academic, personal, and/or professional goals and future plans.

This transformation is significant to my life because it allowed to me to learn and experience what a researcher does. This perspective allows me to decide if I want to further pursue research as a possible field that I may want to get into. Since I am a biomedical engineering major with a focus on pre-med, I have the option to also do research as my future career or my academic future. Since I would like to go to medical school, this opportunity for research was beneficial for me as I learned I am interested in the research division of medicine. This lead me to learn that there are PhD/MD medical school programs, and I have become more interested in attend a PhD/MD program than just a MD program.

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