When I Googled “what is Christmas Eve Eve called”, I was quickly informed by Reddit that today is actually Festivus! My feat of strength this year was making it the 2.5+ hour drive to Brunswick without having a heart attack, despite the abundance of foolish drivers we came across.
While getting my camera gear ready for our holiday trip to Maine, I realized that I took photos this past July and never actually got around to processing them. I’ve got plans to do a lot of snowy photo adventures this coming week, but in the mean time, here’s a throwback to summer!
A few weeks after I was accepted to Wentworth, I found myself at a holiday party speaking with a man I did not know. He asked me what I did, and I happily told him that although I currently worked a retail job, I had just been accepted to Wentworth Institute of Technology as a Biomedical Engineer. That man laughed right in my face and told Dylan not to quit his day job.
My first night at Wentworth, I was the very first to move into my dorm. I was far from home, lonely, and a little scared. I cried so many times that first semester. Sometimes from homesickness, and quite a few times from the frustration of how incredibly difficult my classes were and how scared I was of simply not being cut out to be an engineer.
A few weeks ago I was talking to one of my professors about how it felt to be almost done, and I said that getting my degree felt like crawling through a tunnel, but that each semester the tunnel got smaller and smaller, until at the very end I felt like I was squeezing and struggling to just finish this damn thing.
I’ve been so focused on just finishing one more assignment, studying for one more exam, passing one more class. It feels like I’ve spent three years holding my breath, hoping and wishing for everything to come out okay.
From April 21st-26th I was in Chicago attending the ASBMB 2017 Annual Meeting. Last October I took part in the northeast region ASBMB undergrad poster competition, which you can read about here.
The biggest reason I was there was to take part in the undergraduate poster competition. Of the 20-30k attendees, only around 250 were undergraduates, according to the undergrad orientation I went to. The poster competition was very similar to the one at Northeastern, just on a much larger scale. I didn’t win any prizes or honorable mentions, but I felt good about the presentations I gave to my judges. The experience of presenting among peers that have in-depth science backgrounds was very illuminating.
I also attended scientific lectures, and although some of the concepts were hard to understand, I came away with a lot of ideas for my own experiments to run this summer, which I’m very excited about. Particularly, I continue to be alarmed by the number of studies which only use male cells, male mice, and male humans to draw broad conclusions about the human condition.
At Wentworth I feel much more of a scientist compared to a lot of my classmates, since the school is mainly engineering. But at this conference I was reminded that although I’ve been conducting independent research and will graduate with a minor in biology, ultimately I am an engineer who happens to have a little more experience and interest in science than most of those I’ve met. This is humbling, but not a bad thing, I think. Since I’ve been home I’ve been reflecting on what my strengths are, what it is about research that I like, and how I can fit into the bigger picture of scientific research, biomedical engineering and healthcare in general.
I’m still not entirely sure what I’ll be doing this time next year, but I think this conference has helped put my experience in perspective, and I’m very glad I was able to attend.
A few weeks ago at the Wentworth Annual Awards I was recognized as a graduating senior who successfully participated at Accelerate, WIT’s center for innovation & entrepreneurship on campus. I joked that I was just there to eat dinner and receive a participation trophy, but the truth is that my time at Accelerate has been incredibly important to my development not only as someone interested in entrepreneurship, but also as a scientist and engineer, and being recognized for the work I’ve done there means a lot to me.
In spring of 2015 I was in my second semester at Wentworth, and taking Introduction to Engineering Design. I was working on a project with the goal of aiding victims of stroke during rehabilitation, and my professor suggested I take the project to Accelerate. I pitched on behalf of my team, and secured us $1,000 in funding to build a prototype.
The project ended up being put on hold, and ultimately I decided to part ways with my team (another experience that taught me a lot, but a story for another day!). I didn’t feel like I was done with Accelerate, and Accelerate wasn’t done with me either: in Fall 2015 I came back to coach student teams. I helped guide students through our Startup Challenge, giving them feedback on their ideas, showing them how to research competition, and sharpening their public speaking and communication skills.
In Spring of 2016 I left to complete my first co-op at MGH (something I’vewrittenabouta few times), and then applied to do my second co-op at Accelerate that summer. My application was quickly accepted (thanks again Greg, if you’re reading this: everyone at Accelerate misses you!), and I spent the summer helping run the Startup Challenge, mentoring teams, and assisting with our Social Innovation Lab. I also had the opportunity to run a new program, Women Who Accelerate, that I created with help from Emily Levy of Mighty Well. Women Who Accelerate was a series of events throughout the summer that invited women (and those who support women) to the Accelerate space to discuss the unique challenges facing women in entrepreneurship, and come up with strategies of how to be successful and support each other.
Women Who Accelerate, 2016
Women Who Accelerate, 2016
In Fall 2016 I transitioned back to student coach, where I’ve continued to offer whatever support I can to our teams, and help bring in the new generation of freshmen to Accelerate.
It’s been a jam-packed few years here at Accelerate! What I thought was going to just be a small project ended up turning into a solid work-study job and a co-op, and along the way I’ve learned:
Successful event planning requires more than just several gallons of ice cream.
Having a hard experience with my own project team was heartbreaking, but gave me valuable insight to help mediate other teams.
You can always use more practice with public speaking.
Most meetings could be replaced with a good email.
…but most students won’t read your email anyway 😉
Always keep a few business cards in your pocket.
Industry professionals are usually open to answering questions or helping you out, if you ask politely.
Always say please, and ALWAYS say thank you!
You can’t get what you want if you aren’t willing to ask for it.
So, to Accelerate, I say a heartfelt thank you. It’s been an amazing time here, and I’m excited to see what we can do together in my final summer at Wentworth.
This past weekend I had my first ever poster presentation at the Northeast regional meeting of ASBMB!
It was a really enjoyable experience to be able to speak to so many people about my research, and while I’ve certainly come away with some thoughts on how I can improve for next time, overall it felt like my work was well received.
In particular, I have a really fantastic, HUGE, graph in the middle of the poster (you can kind of see if in the photo above) that shows the transition from day to night and how activity drops really suddenly with the Rdl deficient flies. I was shocked when I looked at the data, because what is showed was that at 8:15pm, the Rdl deficient flies went from 20-30 beam breaks per 5 minutes to zero. The kicker? Sunset that day occurred at 8:13pm!
I’m happy I get to continue this research but, as always, it’s frustrating to not have as much time in the lab as I would like. The semester seemed like such a long time to get things done, but now it’s October 18th!
What can I say- time flies like an arrow, and fruit flies like a banana 😉