Where are you from?
Scotia, New York
Why did you choose UB?
UB has one of the best research programs in the US and I knew it would provide me with many opportunities to pursue undergraduate research.
What do you like most about engineering at UB?
UB’s engineering program teaches you real engineering processes right off the bat. Your first semester you’re given a big project utilizing engineering judgement and rapid prototyping which provides a great base of knowledge to pursue other opportunities.
Why did you choose to go into engineering?
I’ve always excelled in math and science and I come from a household where we would constantly build and fix things around the house, whether it be chicken coops or hardwood flooring. I was always drawn to problem solving and finding unique and simpler solutions to complex problems. After taking a few AP classes in high school I knew I wanted to pursue STEM further and that engineering would be the best fit for me.
What is your favorite place on campus?
My favorite spot on campus would have to be the benches behind the oozefest pit. It’s always a great place to stop and stretch mid-run and enjoy the view of the pillars over Lake LaSalle.
What are you working on right now?
I am working with a medical imaging research team here at UB. We are currently working on optimizing photo-acoustic imaging so that it can be used in a more portable and efficient manner.
What else do you do on campus?
I’ve been heavily involved in the outdoor adventure club since I was a freshman. This year I am the senior trip leader of the club and am trying to run overnight backpacking trips like we used to before the pandemic hit. This year I also started the UB cross-country ski team and I’m hoping to be able to compete with the team this winter.
What have you done that you are most proud of?
The accomplishment I’m most proud of right now is my published paper in the Frontiers in Engineering Education conference. This paper was the culmination of the research I did last year and marked my first major accomplishment in research.
What are you passionate about?
I'm probably most passionate about the outdoors. I’ve been an avid hiker and backpacker most of my life and recently I've really delved into the world of rock climbing. I'm also extremely passionate about healthcare and providing an affordable method of preventing illness in our community. That's why I've begun to pursue research in medical imaging. I believe that making affordable imaging devices will allow us to revolutionize preventative healthcare and save many lives.
Has there been a particular faculty that has been formative during your time at UB, and how so?
My research advisor last year, Jessica Swenson, has influenced how I approach education and what I plan on pursuing in the future. She helped shape my views on how engineering should be taught and how I can better myself as a student.
What are your future goals?
I plan on getting my PhD in biomedical engineering and conducting research of my own. I’d also one day like to go back and teach other engineering students.
What is your advice for prospective students?
My advice for prospective students is to reach out to every internship and research opportunity you can think of, and try to get your work done by Friday so you can spend your weekends having fun and not working.
John Toftegaard received a 2021 Dean’s Undergraduate Achievement Award from the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.