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Hopefully this gives you an inside look into what biomedical engineering students actually learn in school and, four years later, why I’m still here sticking with it 🙂


What makes BME special

It’s only natural to start off with this right? I initially chose biomedical engineering (BME) because of my indecisiveness. I knew I liked medicine and health but wasn’t sure if I wanted to succumb myself to 10 years of med school after undergrad. To this day, I’m still figuring out this decision but I’m grateful that this major allows me to keep the doors of being both an engineer and a doctor open until I finally decide which path to travel. That’s one of the reasons why BME is so special, it allows us students to explore both the health and the engineering regions to decide how we want to combine the two moving forward. 

Another thing about BMEs is that we’re kind of considered a “jack of all trades”. While this can be both a pro and a con, I consider it as more of a benefit because it allows me to participate in multiple conversations and projects at least on a surface level. While I’m definitely not well versed in the specifics of hardware, electronics, or coding, I at least have the basic knowledge to start something out and then learn more specifics if I CHOOSE to. Personally, I’m not all that interested in circuit boards so I’m happy to leave the in depth knowledge to the electrical engineers, but I had the foundations to build a (very) rough electric guitar with more specialized research and work. All in all, I enjoy the freedom of the major to specialize more in what interests you but still have the foundations to understand the basic work done by other engineers.

Last and certainly most important, is the community. My fellow engineers are my bestest of friends, the people who understand the grind necessary to persevere in engineering, the people I look up to and strive to be like, and the only people I’d want to spend 12+ hours per day with when it’s that time of year. It takes a certain amount of optimism, determination, endurance, and humor to do this major, and really all Viterbi majors (although I’m biased that my BME squad is the best of them all). Being surrounded by people who have these same traits pushes you to be better while also allowing you to look back on the tough times and long nights as fond memories.


Favorite engineering classes

Here are my personal favorites looking back as a senior and what made them standouts:

  • BME 302 – Medical Electronics: Dr. Maarek is one of my all time faves for his dry humor but also his interactive teaching style
  • BME 404 – Orthopedic Biomechanics: I’m a huge sports fan which made me a fan of learning about the mechanics of the body and how it applies to athletics (we also watched a lot of surgeries which I loved)
  • BME 410 – Introduction to Biomaterials and Tissue Engineering: It’s very interesting to learn about health topics at the forefront of the industry right now and how they’re reinventing medicine as a whole
  • BME 415 – Regulation of Medical Products: It’s super useful getting to learn about the regulation of drugs and medical devices, this has definitely helped me get a leg up in job applications
  • BME 210 – Biomedical Computer Simulation Methods: a testament that the longest nights can bring the best, funniest memories


What I’d do different

I probably would have taken BME 415 – Regulation of Medical Products in my junior year instead of as a senior because I find the content very interesting and am now contemplating going more to the regulation/law side of the industry. 

I’d also work to maintain relationships with my professors better. Usually during the semester/year I have them, I’m able to develop a personal connection with a handful of my professors but once I finish the class I kind of lose contact and don’t make efforts to reach out. I really enjoyed some of my professors not just as teachers but also as people and I would have liked the opportunity to learn more from them outside of the classroom.


What I’m currently working on in the major

I’m currently in the senior design project class for BME majors where we’re all tasked with building our own medical device with a small group of our classmates. My group decided to look at the problem of glucose monitoring for pre-diabetic patients and is in the process of building the vision and schema for our minimum viable product. We’re attempting to build a sensor that can reside in a toilet bowl that tracks glucose concentration in the urine, urination frequency, and weight for pre-diabetic patients and sends the information to an app that can give the patient better insights into what their combined measurements and trends mean, informing them of when it may be time to see a physician to get screened for diabetes.

Outside of that, in my tissue engineering class, we’re currently practicing our fluorescence microscopy skills on muscle cells that we cultured ourselves and are analyzing cell abundance using software systems. We also read scientific papers on recent discoveries in stem cell research to increase our understanding of complex scientific writing and keep up with topics that are going to drastically change the field of medicine very soon.

Aisha Yamamoto

MAJOR: Biomedical Engineering YEAR: Class of 2024 HOMETOWN: Kaneohe, Hawaii PRONOUNS: she/her/hers INSTA: @aisha.yamamoto I am involved with a startup working to optimize healthcare in underserved international communities. I've also worked with a biotech startup over the summer and conducted undergraduate research at a neuroscience lab. Aside from engineering, I'm involved in Troy Camp, Hawaii Club, and volunteer within the LA community.