Where are you from?
I’m from Lockport, NY, a little city about 30 minutes from UB.
Why did you choose to go into engineering?
I’ve always enjoyed trying to figure things out and understand how tools or systems work. One of the most satisfying ways to apply this inclination is solving technical problems when they arise. Engineering is a natural extension of problem solving, just done in a more technical, mathematical and deliberate way, so it’s always been something I have been drawn to. Early in my education I wanted to be a veterinarian, so I could use my problem-solving skills to help heal animals and just feel like I’m helping our society overall. I later decided those two ideas, helping society and solving technical problems, combined well in the field of biomedical engineering.
What do you like most about engineering at UB?
UB has done a lot to enable its students to tackle complicated engineering problems. The specialized facilities such as the Optical Imaging and Analysis Facility, South Campus Instrumentation Center, and the digital manufacturing lab have been invaluable resources to opening opportunities into more interesting research. There are also tons of software solutions available to download or use on campus. There are also tons of opportunities if you know where to look. Outside of research the faculty and staff are always friendly and point you in the right direction to help solve any problems.
What is your favorite place on campus?
This might sound cliché but one of my favorite places is the computer lab for the biomedical engineering department. I have a lot of memories there and got to know a lot of my classmates while we were helping each other solve that difficult homework problem or prepare for that dreaded midterm. Outside of that I really like Lake LaSalle. I often try to take detours or just small walks past the lake. It’s always nice to have an aspect of nature so close by so I fell connected to the natural world.
What are you working on right now?
I’m designing a device that will be an implantable sensor that can tell you information about the surface of metal implants such as prosthetic joints. It’s a wonderful intersection of electrical engineering, coding, biology, and electrochemistry. It is challenging but very satisfying.
What else do you do on campus?
I have helped out at biomedical engineering department events such as our open house. I also enjoy hearing about other researchers’ work at various seminars on campus.
What have you done that you are most proud of?
I was part of an ambitious research project involving an implantable electronic device to help eradicate infections, and I am proud of my contributions to that work. That work gave me a glimpse of how big research projects can go from an idea to completion. It’s never a straight line where everything goes as expected, and you have to be able to shift your focus and solve problems when they arise without losing focus on the big picture.
I also taught a class for a semester in my department and that was an incredible learning experience. Standing in front of so many students was incredibly intimidating at first, but as I got to know the students and the material more it became a rewarding experience I’ll never forget.
Has there been a particular faculty or staff member that has been formative during your time at UB, and how so?
There have been a few. To be honest, most of the people I work with are great in their own way. For me personally though I wouldn’t have gotten this far without my advisors Dr. Titus and Dr. Ehrensberger. Dr. Titus has been very supportive and helped guide me to answers when I need help and opened a lot of opportunities for me. Dr. Ehrensberger has also helped me find opportunities, and his lab has introduced me to concepts (like electrochemistry) that have come to define my personal research. I owe them both so much.
What are you passionate about?
I’m passionate about growing as a person and learning new things. Engineering at UB is the perfect setting to tackle new challenges and branch out to find subjects that keep you motivated.
What are your future plans?
After I graduate I plan to keep my options open. I may try to find work at a biomedical company that interests me, or I might pursue academia if any opportunities present themselves.
What is your advice for prospective students?
Engineering is a fantastic field that is general enough that you can change course if you need to without the need to start from scratch. Engineering can be a gateway to higher education or a destination itself. So, I would say at first focus on the fundamentals, and try to learn how to teach yourself. Being able to teach yourself complex topics will open up a plethora of opportunities. There will come a time when you encounter a topic or field that draws you in. It might be something you had never even heard of (like electrochemistry for me) but being able to find and understand the literature gives you the choice to pursue what interests you.