Thursday, December 11, 2014

Thank you 20.109!

20.109, in conjunction with some of the other classes I’ve taken this semester, has really revitalized my appreciation of not only bioengineering at MIT, but the field as a whole. Maybe it’s blasphemous to say this here, but at this point last semester, I was very strongly considering switching my major to 6-7. I had even drawn up a courseroad and spoken to older friends in that major. But thank goodness I stayed!

My concerns at that point were that I would not graduate with an in-depth enough understanding of bioengineering, and that I wouldn’t have any discernable skills to bring to the lab. Now, I can just casually mention that I’ve used viruses to build solar cells, and manipulated bacteria to produce photographs. Do I have bioengineering skills? I think that’s an easy yes.
The point where it all really came together for me was actually not through a 20.109 assignment, but the realization heavily involved 20.109 without a doubt. My appreciation for bioengineering struck at around 4am as I wrapped up my design project for 20.320. We had to construct a pathway for a liposome-contained system of our design to detect and signal the presence of Ebola or Marburg virus (distingushing between the two), then mathematically model the system and implement it on MATLAB, while subjecting it to various conditions. Where is the 20.109 you ask? While I was trying to work out the last few bugs in my code and putting together my final report for the project, I realized that sure, it was really cool that I could design such a system, but if I ever wanted all of it to 
actually work in real life, I could also make that happen through what I’ve learned in 20.109!

Up until the class, I’d done several research internships and UROPs, but had gained fairly specific wet-lab skills. Now, not only do I see the wide array of applications for bioengineering and the techniques I now know for accomplishing projects in those areas, I’m able to communicate that information through writing and presentations. This may have been my most practical class at MIT so far. I also very much appreciate the clearly large amounts of time and effort put in by all members of the 20.109 staff. Not only did that help me in the class itself, but I feel that attitude was infectious to all the students too! 

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