AJ Pingol, a recent College of Engineering graduate from Washington Township, NJ (Gloucester County), shares what it’s like to be a Biomedical Engineering major at Rowan University
What made you choose biomedical engineering (BME)?
Like a lot of people, I’m someone who loves to play video games. When I play video games, I never play on easy mode; I always have to challenge myself.
I knew after I earned my undergraduate degree that I had to pick something that was going to challenge me intellectually and push me to be out of my comfort zone. This is why I chose biomedical engineering.
The reason why I chose Rowan specifically is because I realized how invested they were in their students — invested into what I wanted to do as a career and provided me with the best resources possible to get there. So I think that the combination of the challenge and the kind of community that’s here ultimately led me here to becoming a BME.
Did you know that you wanted to do med school to begin with?
Yes, I knew I wanted to go to med school to begin with. So I think something so great about biomedical engineering is that I’ve gotten the chance to work directly with physicians. The current project that I’m working on allows us to work directly with local physicians working with patient data to ultimately better these outcomes for the patients.
And I’ve realized … I love having my hands on both sides of the process of helping the patient. And I think that the biomedical engineering majors, they definitely don’t get enough praise because they deal with the more behind the scenes work of what patients don’t see. I’ve realized how important biomedical engineering is to the whole process and I’ve gained this wider perspective of health care for patients.
As far as the research lab experience, do you get that early into your career?
So you definitely can even start as soon as you’re a freshman. I think something so special about biomedical engineering, and specifically the biomedical engineering program at Rowan, is that everybody is so open about teaching and inviting everybody to the lab. In STEM, it can be a little intimidating to go up to someone who is an innovator and has all of these different accolades in the field, but the atmosphere here is so open.
At Rowan, the overall goal is to see everyone succeed.
What impact do you hope to have on this field?
I think everybody has that one professor that makes you think “Wow, that professor really made an impact on my life.” Something that I realized going through my BME classes was that I felt that way about every single one of my professors. Each one empowered me in a different way to either push myself to new heights or try something new. I think that kind of empowerment really impacted me and showed me who I really wanted to be.
I want to continue to empower other people, whether it’s through education or through research. I hope to make an impact to create a better patient experience and better healthcare in general.
Can you share an “aha” moment you had where you knew you made the right decision?
BME is a major that makes you put your hands in a bunch of different pots. For example, the research program I was involved in was 100% coding based. To be honest, I’m not that great at coding (well, wasn’t that great at coding). So you can imagine someone who doesn’t have any experience with coding could be intimidating. The research is so impactful that you feel like you don’t want to mess up. But the faculty here, the research groups, and the friends that I’ve made are all so uplifting. In this program I’ve gotten the opportunity to find myself in discomfort to see new heights and how far I can push myself.
So eventually, I was able to use coding to help patients directly and I could see that direct impact. That culmination of all this time and hardwork from being a novice in the field makes being in this program so unique.
What ultimately made you decide to come to Rowan?
What drew me to Rowan was the environment of unity and togetherness that exists here. Rowan emphasizes being different and innovative, especially in the BME program. They do a great job of supporting your individual goals. I found so much support for what I want to do and that’s why I chose Rowan.
When I think of Rowan BME, I think of finding who you are and seeing what you can do. BME definitely is not an easy major, and it’s like that way for a reason — to help you see that you can push yourself to new heights to succeed. I think it’s great because it brings out the best in people.
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