First Semester as a Grad Student

We have just ended our third week of classes as master’s students at Rice. It has been a whirlwind so far. Being back at Rice, having just graduated in May, is surreal, weird, and comforting all at the same time. I’ve had a great time catching up with old classmates, chatting with former professors, and meeting graduate students in my own department (Bioengineering) and others.

This semester I am taking 13.5 credits of classes, working as a Head TA for a sophomore Bioengineering course, and grading/mentoring for senior Bioengineers in Dr. Richardson’s Capstone Design course. Needless to say, I stay busy week to week.

 

My course load this semester is as follows:

BIOE 527 (GMI Design Course)

BIOE 528 (GMI Implementation Course)

BIOE 627 (GMI Medical Technology Industry Seminar)

BIOE 539 (Biostatistics–Elective Course)

BIOE 543 (DNA Biotechnology–Elective Course)

 

This course load is a bit heavy, especially with the GMI Implementation projects, but so far has been manageable. My GMI Implementation projects, which I act as project lead/manager for, are both very exciting and will expose me to areas of medical technology I have not previously dealt with.

My main project, called Outstenting, involves a minimally invasive, magnetic ureteral stent removal technology for use in pediatric patients who undergo surgery to remove blockage from the channel between the kidney and bladder. This project was started by classmates of mine at Rice in our Capstone Design course last school year. I will be continuing the technology development of this project, and hopefully, by the end of the semester, take it through animal studies and prepare the device for clinical studies.

My second implementation project is co-managed by me and Luis Gené. The two of us will work on PushPusle, a pressure ulcer detector for use in diabetic and geriatric patients at home or in clinical settings. This project is much further along than my other project, meaning most of our work this semester will be focused on preparing the device for clinical trials and managing the data received from those studies.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed with the amount of work that needs to be done, but the best advice I’ve gotten is to take one day at a time. You can’t control what will happen tomorrow until you are living it. Wasting time stressing about what will happen tomorrow, a week from now, or 2 months from now is unproductive and distracting. Along with that, it’s important to unplug and take a break from work to do something you enjoy. The structure of the GMI program gives you a ton of freedom to work when you want, where you want, and in almost any fashion you want. This could result in you doing work 7 days a week for hours and hours each day. If you don’t take a break from work, it will drive you mad. This program gives great experience for learning how to balance your work and personal life without a well defined schedule, which is sometimes the case with jobs in industry.

My posts will come once a month, so I’m sure I will have much more to share about life, my projects, and GMI once we are midway though the semester!

Until then,

Michael

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