BMES conference offers opportunities to Trine students

By Annabelle Elder
communications ’17

Several Trine University engineering students attended the National 2016 Biomedical Engineering Society annual meeting from Oct. 5-8 at the Minneapolis Convention Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  

Members of Trine’s Biomedical Engineering Society who attended were Michael Forthofer, Joshua Kline, Anna Kersey, Madison Hatkevich, and Sydney Schlafer, all of whom are biomedical engineering majors. Garrett Benedict, a computer engineering major, also accompanied the group on the trip.

The Biomedical Engineering Society plays a large part in students’ preparation for a career in the biomedical engineering industry.

 “Being a part of the national chapter of BMES allows me to receive updates on new scientific discoveries that are happening in the field. I receive emails and magazines that discuss biomedical-related issues,” said Schlafer, a sophomore.

“Our Trine chapter, on the other hand, provides a familiar niche that I can feel at home with. I am vice president for our chapter, and I preside at our meetings, as well as supervise membership promotion. The Trine BMES chapter's main goal is to recruit BMES students in order to create an environment that focuses on biomedical engineering, and challenges each member to continue to pursue a biomedical engineering degree,” she added.

When it came time to sign up for the national conference, the students were eager to go on the trip.

“Dr. Maria Gerschutz and Dr. Melanie G. Watson, our advisors, pushed us to go,” said Forthofer, the president of Trine’s Biomedical Engineering Society.  

“I was mostly interested in attending the conference because of the chance to network with the career professionals and grad schools,” said Hatkevich, a junior.

To prepare for the trip, the students had to put in a fair amount of work.

Benedict and Kline were the only seniors to attend the conference. They had performed the research for the group’s poster presentation over the course of a year. Their presentation was part of the SmartMed case project.

“We had to prepare a presentation poster for our design as well as analyze an abundance of blood samples,” said Benedict.

 “The SmartMed Case project is one of two biomedical engineering senior design projects that we offer our seniors. The presentation was directly related to the research that the previous year’s seniors and this year’s seniors perform. Our seniors had the opportunity to display their hard work among graduate-level presentations from other universities,” said Watson, who also attended the conference.

Benedict and Kline’s presentation centered on red blood cell separation on chromatography paper using an electric field. Watson assisted them by answering questions from the audience.

 “This concept (red blood cell separation) is important because it provides proof of a cheap way to separate blood components without having to use a hematology lab,” said Benedict.

Many universities and industry leaders were in attendance at the conference, including Texas A&M, Rutgers, University of Michigan, Yale and Stanford. The students were able to meet and learn from other research while on the trip.

“The conference rooms had industry leaders and graduate students presenting innovative research in a multitude of biomedical fields. I took away great advice for future innovations on the design that we presented, as well as invaluable knowledge about the biomedical industry,” said Benedict.

“Many people presented their graduate and doctoral research. A lot of graduate schools also had representatives hang out and mingle, which was great for networking,” said Forthofer.

Schlafer commented that there were different panels she had the opportunity to sit in on. Those at the panels discussed research they had been conducting for the past several years.

“Some of these panels included research on brain injuries due to concussions from football, and others discussed their research on stem cell treatment for skin,” Schlafer said.

Watson, who has been to the national conferences over the course of many years, said there were more than 2,000 people present during this particular event.

“I believe all six students learned just how big biomedical engineering truly is. There were several universities represented by faculty, graduate students and undergraduate students from all over the world,” said Watson.

“Not only did they see and interact with the biomedical engineering community, but they also had the opportunity to attend presentations regarding the respective fields that they are interested in. They were also exposed to new research areas.”

Even though the students had the conference to attend, they still found time to have fun outside of it. They were able to experience the Mall of America as well as attend a dessert bash with conference attendees, which included social interaction and dancing.

“Overall, the conference was a great experience and super informative,” said Hatkevich. “We had a lot of fun while still being able to learn and accomplish what we set out to do!”