Throughout 2016-17, BioE seniors Erin Ichinotsubo, Brianna McIntosh and Nina Reese have been collecting first-person accounts from their fellow students. With “Humans of UW Bioengineering,” the team has shared stories of students’ experience in the BioE major and their advice for prospective students. The stories have been published weekly on the department’s website and Facebook page.
Erin, Brianna and Nina started their project as part of the BioE Honors Seminar, a service learning experience required for seniors to earn departmental honors at graduation. They connected over a common realization: there was little information available to learn about life in the major, and opportunities available to BioE students.
As freshmen and sophomores, Erin, Brianna and Nina shared a similar experience of not knowing what the day-to-day life of a BioE student was like. “I wished there were honest student stories about the lives of bioengineers,” Erin explains. “I didn’t know who in the department to ask.” Having information about the different paths through the major and the breadth of careers available to BioE graduates would also have been helpful. “Having more ideas about what could be done with a BioE degree would have given me a better sense of direction when I joined the major,” says Brianna. Nina agrees, “If I had been able to learn about the major from older students I could have felt more confident about my decision to join the program.”
The team wanted to create a resource that could help prospective students find the answers to the questions they themselves had when they entered the major. They also wished to celebrate the accomplishments of their peers, and to show how BioE students can connect to the UW community outside the classroom. “I hoped to show that we are more than just smart students,” Erin says. Brianna agrees, “There’s so much more to everyone than their classes, and we wanted to showcase the diversity of our department.”
Throughout the project, the team has enjoyed getting to know their fellow classmates better, and learning more about what inspired them to choose BioE. “It really showed the diversity within our community, both in backgrounds and future plans,” Brianna explains. “We loved getting to share that with other people.” They hope that other students will continue the project in the future to offer inspiration and advice to prospective students.
We recently caught up with Erin, Brianna and Nina to learn more about their motivation for pursuing BioE, their UW experience and their plans for after graduation.