Thursday, December 11, 2014

What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.

One of the biggest struggles that I have been facing in my life lately is figuring out what I want to do after graduation. I came to MIT as a pre-med and was dead set on becoming an doctor -- at least until the first semester ended and I decided that I didn't want to be a doctor after all (...oops). However, the one thing that I've known since day 1 of MIT is that I want to major in bioengineering. But even then, I never knew why. I just thought that anything that combined biology, which I love, with engineering, which I think is cool, ought to be a pretty great major. Then I started taking classes that I thought were interesting, so I figured I made a pretty good choice. Whenever I'd go home and my friends and family would ask about school, one question was bound to come up: "What's your major?". I'd respond with bionegineering, and people would inevitably ask what "bioengineering" even meant. The conversation would always go along the lines of:

Me: "Well it's a pretty broad field, but it basically entails building things with biological parts."

How people verbally respond: "Oh, cool." [while nodding understandingly]
What their face says: "I have no idea what that means, but I'm going to pretend for the sake of conversation."

I totally understood their reactions, because bioengineering is such a broad and somewhat ambiguous field. This class is proof of that, seeing as we did everything from DNA engineering to solar cell construction. But at least now, with the class under my belt, I can appreciate how bioengineering is a unique combination of biology, math, chemistry, physics, and even writing through papers and lab reports. If you throw 20.320 into the mix, you can also tack computer science onto that list. It uses skills and knowledge from pretty much every subject to create experiments that ultimately use biology to address a scientific problem. For me, this integration of all subjects into one is perfect because I'm interested in basically everything (which is actually proving to be a problem because I have no idea what I want to focus on in grad school... if I go to grad school... can you tell that I'm having a hard time deciding what to do with my life?)

While verbalizing exactly what bioengineering still presents a challenge, after doing these three modules at least now when people ask I can give specific examples of what kind of skills bioengnieering requires and describe some of its application. I also now sure that regardless of what I end up doing within the field, bioengineering is the subject for me, and I'm very grateful that 109 was able to help me hone in on that.

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