A new group of young researchers got better acquainted with the Georgia Institute of Technology’s bioengineering community, August 15 at the BioE Expo, the annual orientation event for new and current students in the Georgia Tech Interdisciplinary Bioengineering Graduate Program (BioE). The innovative BioE Program, established in 1992, has graduated more than 170 students in a broad range of research areas – accomplished students with wide-ranging minds and skillsets, like Brett Klosterhoff.
“I picked this bioengineering program because it is so interdisciplinary, and it gives students from any background a chance to gain new knowledge and pull on their old strengths,” says Klosterhoff, a former high school valedictorian who majored in mechanical engineering as an undergraduate at Purdue University, where he also competed as a long distance runner.
“Bioengineering is still an emerging field, and from a research perspective, Georgia Tech is an interesting place to be,” adds Klosterhoff, who got involved in an interdisciplinary lab his senior year for an independent study program at Purdue. “I really loved it. So that’s why I’m here. I’ve got a strong mechanical engineering background, but very little in actual life sciences, so this is an outstanding growth opportunity.”
The BioE Program is interdisciplinary in that it is not a solitary academic unit, as in most departments or schools at Georgia Tech. Instead, eight different academic units from the Colleges of Engineering and Computing comprise the program, which allows for a flexible, integrative and individualized degree program. Meanwhile, more than 90 participating faculty from the Colleges of Engineering, Computing, Sciences, and Architecture, as well as Emory University School of Medicine, provide a broad range of research opportunities.
The BioE Expo is a way of easing into the fall semester. New students took in presentations by program faculty chair Andrés García, as well as a panel of current (i.e., experienced) BioE students, who offered advice on a range of topics, from choosing advisors to whether or not (and when) to drop a class, from how best to navigate Atlanta traffic between Georgia Tech and Emory (“Take the shuttle,” was the rallying cry) to questions about opportunities for anything resembling a social life between classwork and research (“consider joining BBUGS,” suggested student panelist Jaya Arya, referring to the Bioengineering and Bioscience Unified Graduate Students, the largest and most diverse graduate group on the Tech campus).
And, as if answering that question about a social life, the Expo ended with a relaxed communal gathering in the atrium of the Parker H. Petit Biotech Building, built around a buffet and, of course, a poster session showcasing the work of the BioE community.