Preston is an undergraduate junior in bioengineering, and he is interested in the electrical engineering/programming aspects of bioengineering. Read more about how his experiences in and out of BioE, and being in a competitive major, have shaped his interests and goals.

“I was doing research last year, but after completing an internship over the summer, I decided to stop. I interned at Just Biotherapeutics as their protein purification intern, and I tested all sorts of resin using high-throughput robotics, where you have these robots that set experiments up and run them for you. Before the internship, I was interested in the protein purification aspect. However, throughout the summer, I became really intrigued by the machine itself and the fact that you can program the robot to do what you want it to. I discovered my passion for automated engineering, which is why I decided not to do molecular biology-related research anymore.

When I came to this department, I was interested in a quite a few different things. It was great, since BioE exposes you to a lot of different things, but it doesn’t go into great depth. This worked out really well for me, and I plan on going to grad school after this so I can obtain the expertise in my area of interest. If I could do it again, I would probably major in computer science or electrical engineering. But at the same time, I’m saying that because it is my experience here that exposed me to them, and if it wasn’t for that, I would have had no idea.

I think it’s absolutely impressive but also very scary when you get into the department and realize how smart the cohort is. Everyone is doing so much, and it’s easy to feel like you’re not doing enough. I was just talking to someone from my cohort this morning; he is an ROTC student, did running start, is pre-med, and it’s crazy — everything all combined together. And he’s just one of the many 70-80 people. For me, it’s difficult, and even though you know that the instructors are encouraging you to do well, you still can’t help but feel like you’re competing with very smart students. It’s hard not to feel discouraged, but at the same time, I would prefer being with people who inspire me so I feel like I have more that I can improve on.

Just a few months ago, we had two people in our cohort who came in front of the class and talked a little bit about stress. You’ll often hear conversations between students like, “oh yeah, I slept so little last night,” and the other person upon hearing that will say, “oh don’t worry, I slept even less,” like there’s some sort of competition going on. To me, it feels like people almost take pride in how much stress they’re experiencing, which can create a competitive environment but also have a harmful effect. I think that talking about stress publicly helps students understand its negative impact and consider better ways to support their peers.”