It’s hard to believe that I’m in my last semester of college! I have five exciting classes to look forward to in the last push before graduation, and I am really looking forward to what I will be learning this semester. I am in three biomedical engineering classes this semester, along with two fun electives to get as much as I can out of USC. The three biomedical engineering classes are Rehabilitation Engineering, Control and Communication in the Nervous System, and Senior Design. My two electives are TV Symposium and the Dean’s Seminar in Technology Entrepreneurship.
Rehabilitation Engineering focuses on rehabilitation technologies such as limb prostheses, limb and spine braces, wheelchair design, and electrical stimulation methods. The class seems to mainly be based on physics, statics, and dynamics principles. We have been learning how to calculate forces and moments about joints, and then we apply our calculations to engineering design of these rehab technologies. For the semester we have some cool guest speakers and field trips planned, too. Two professors from the USC School of Medicine are coming in to speak with us about gait analysis. We also have a field trip planned to SynTouch, a start-up founded by USC PhD students that creates bionic fingertips that mimic the physical and sensory properties of the human finger.
Control and Communication in the Nervous System focuses on teaching us the molecular biology and physiology side of what is happening in the brain, as well as circuitry and electrical side of communication in the brain. We are starting off the class with modeling neurons as electrical cables, learning how to apply properties of electrical engineering to model the firing of signal in the brain. Once we are able to model the electrical circuitry of the brain, we’ll move on to learn about chemical transmissions in the brain. So far, this class includes more Excel than I am used to working with, which is great because I will get more Excel knowledge in before graduation.
In senior design, we are going to get our group and decide on a project in a couple of weeks. Until then, we are focusing on learning a new program – LabVIEW. We will use LabVIEW for the coding of our projects once we start, so the first couple weeks of this course are like a crash course for LabVIEW. Luckily, LabVIEW is a very visual program, so it is much easier to get the hang of. We started by creating programs to read, manipulate, and display data from Multimeters and Oscilloscopes, and now we are creating programs to do things like mimic gambling games like Craps. I am enjoying learning LabVIEW so far, but what I’m really looking forward to is starting my senior design project!
I am taking TV Symposium because I didn’t want to leave USC without taking a class in its top-notch cinema school. Cinematic Arts at USC is an incredible program, and I didn’t want to miss out on that aspect of USC! TV Symposium is a class where we are able to watch TV shows that have not yet come out, and then someone from the show comes in for a question and answer session after we have seen the pilot episode. Often times the people that come in to speak with us are actors and big time directors or producers. The first week we watched a show called The Book of Negroes and this week we watched American Crime. I can’t wait to see what other shows are to come, and I know a lot of us are hoping to see the first episode of the new season of Game of Thrones at some point!!
The fifth class that I am taking this semester is an entrepreneurship seminar that is focused on technology start-ups. Guest lecturers come in and speak with us, telling us about their personal stories with creating both successful and unsuccessful start-ups. Our first lecturer was a woman who was in charge of leading the activities that define the commercial potential and value of USC’s top medical innovations. She works for the Alfred E. Mann Institute and she gave us a fascinating presentation on what she believes to be the “next big things” in healthcare for the next five, ten, and twenty-five years. She also left us with some great advice on how to make your name known in your professional community and how to own your name and personal brand.
Overall, this semester is off to a great start. I cannot imagine how much better it will get with the many speakers I will be learning from, and I feel like each of these classes will do a great job of sending me off into the real world!