I graduated from Louisiana Tech in 2011 with my two B.S. degrees in Biomedical Engineering and Chemical Engineering. Because of my emphasis on medical research, I selected “Engineering Better Medicines” as my challenge. I was approached by Dr. Jenna Carpenter (the GCSP director at LA Tech then) in 2010 about possibly becoming one of the first participants in this new program. I already had logged numerous hours of biomedical research under a number of labs in the biomedical engineering department and was on track to complete both of my degrees. Always willing to accept a challenge and better myself as both a student and engineer, I enlisted as one of the first Grand Challenge Scholars.
Once in the program, I had already complete my research requirements by working on various projects. Through my sophomore and junior years, I worked in the biomaterials lab designing, fabricating, and testing hydrogel tissue scaffold for cornea cell replacement. I also spent two summers working on demonstrating the feasibility of coating slides with glucose oxidase using layer-by-layer assembly in order to produce glucose sensors and assisting with building a program that could read electroencephalograph (EEG) data for the prediction of epileptic seizures. My final project for the research component included my senior capstone project which was working on a device that could detect MRSA by using spatial PCR techniques. I had completed most of my service requirements by tutoring at the BARC and was able to quickly finish that requirement immediately after joining the GCSP.
One thing that the GCSP did that benefitted me the most was that it pushed me out of my comfort zone. I always felt comfortable taking engineering courses, but never bothered with other courses outside the college of engineering and science. But I must say, some of the most interesting classes I took in college were the classes to satisfy the interdisciplinary and global learning. I took courses in medical ethics and international relationships and found them both to be both interesting and educational. (I can honestly say those two classes are the only two classes where I read the textbook outside of class because it was that interesting.) As part of my entrepreneurship requirement, I completed in the Louisiana Tech “Idea Pitch” and the “Top Dawg New Venture” competition. Presenting my idea on thermoelectric glucose sensor, I placed second in the Top Dawg contest. The prize money was great, but more importantly it allowed me to understand the transition between engineering design and commercialization of a design (particularly with medical devices).
I am currently working on completing my Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering at LA Tech where I am designing and testing an osmotic glucose sensor. I was recently hired as a new member of the LA Tech faculty where I teach the freshmen engineering courses (ENGR 120 classes), the sophomore thermodynamics class (ENGR 222), and some other classes such as fluid mechanics among others. I also currently serve as a faculty mentor in the GCSP and enjoy seeing other students reach out and enhance their education by taking part in this excellent program.