On January 19, students from multiple disciplines on the Brigham Young University campus (specifically engineering and life sciences) gathered in the EB event space to present research at the BYU Biomedical Research Conference.
Over 20 posters detailing issues such as blood vessel mechanics and spine motion improvement were shared by the students at the event, which was hosted by the Biomedical Engineering Association.
The conference has been an annual event for the organization since 2012, and members spent the past five months preparing for it. Club president Cooper Thacker shared that part of the reason they put so much into it is because it’s one of the most important opportunities for exposure to the biomedical engineering field.
“I don't think there's a huge emphasis on biomedical engineering or biomedical here at BYU because there's no major or minor for it, so it’s hard to get involved in,” Thacker said. “This event is a great introduction opportunity for students to get exposure to biomedical engineering and for people who didn't know there’s research in biomedical happening here.”
He also emphasized the doors it opens for students who aren’t doing research yet but want to, to find something they're interested in and connect with professors in that area of study.
Senior mechanical engineering student Cody Messick, who presented research on foot mechanics, said the experience created the opportunity to look at some early findings and get good practice presenting them in a low stakes environment.
“Our professor let us have a lot of autonomy in doing this poster, in doing a lot of the data processing and analysis, and in coming up with our conclusions and discussion,” Messick said. “I think for a low-stakes conference like that you get professors who are willing to let their students experiment and try things on their own and have it be less pressure, so I thought that was really valuable in the preparation process.
He also echoed other valuable aspects of the conference shared by Thacker.
“Presenting is fun because you get to talk to lots of people who are interested in what you're saying. Not only that, you get to meet other people that are working in a similar field and make connections there; not to mention learning about other people's projects, which is super cool too,” Messick said.
The event included a keynote presentation from ATL Technologies founder and engineering alum Brad Brown. During his address, he advised students to find a customer centric role. Brown explained that it was his focus on the customer and their needs that created the opportunity for his company to be a massive producer of COVID-19 testing kits when the pandemic escalated.
“Being customer-centric helps you better understand the needs of everyone around you and help in your relationships with your bosses, your [spouses], and your children, even more than just your customers,” Brown said. “Being able to understand what people need is a huge benefit to your career.”
To conclude, he explained that the number one thing that makes a great engineer is curiosity.
“Be curious, and have a beginner's attitude,” Brown said. “Having that attitude will help that curiosity to last you for a lifetime. You’re going to need it.”
The research presented at the two-hour conference was just one demonstration of the good that curiosity can do.
For more information about how to get involved in the Biomedical Engineering Society at BYU or research opportunities, contact organization advisor Dr. Bowden.