Alex Cruz is a doctoral student in biomedical engineering from New Jersey. He studies tissue engineering approaches to calcific aortic valve disease under the guidance of Jonathan Butcher at Cornell. Read more about Using tissue engineering approaches to better understand cardiovascular disease
Charul Singh, M.Eng. 2018
Hometown: Pune, India/Bangkok, Thailand
BME Degree: M.Eng. 2018
Why did you choose Cornell?
It was a dream come true to receive an offer from Cornell University. Before making the decision, I had the opportunity to visit the Cornell campus and interact with professors, tour the research facilities, and meet with the students then. I was impressed by the course structure, diversity, and the opportunities offered such as industry engagement, working with the finest surgeons from Weill Cornell Medicine, clinical preceptorship, and projects in the BME department. My experience during the campus visit and Cornell’s rich heritage made it an obvious and a natural first choice.
Why did you choose biomedical engineering?
Biomedical Engineering combines my natural interest in medicine and engineering. In high school, I was involved in a lot of community service projects. I got several opportunities to interact with medical professionals and patients, volunteer at the Red Cross society, and therefore, think and reflect on what I observed. It is very satisfying to know what the work we do impacts patients and doctors directly to improve the quality of lives.
What have you been up to since graduating?
I have been working at Applied Medical as an engineer in Orange County, California. My role in the Process Development team involves optimizing process parameters, writing test protocols for testing device design, and investigating non-conformances for manufacturing safe and effective laparoscopic surgical devices. I am also involved in the Quality Systems team focusing on environmental monitoring. My projects and responsibilities have enabled me to become a subject matter expert on the Alexis product line as well as project planning impacting the quality management system. In Fall 2020, I start a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering at Stevens focusing on pulmonary mechanics/physiology. I am very excited to contribute to the field and hope to solve clinical problems that are also related to the current pandemic.
How did your Cornell degree prepare you for what you are doing now?
Not only did I take engineering classes at Cornell, but I also took leadership and regulatory affairs class. The leadership class taught me a lot about collaborating with my colleagues, mentoring, and taking initiatives at my workplace. The medical device industry is a highly regulated industry and the regulatory affairs classes helped with gaining insights into how we bring a safe and effective medical device in the market. The M.Eng. design project gave me the opportunity to work in a team throughout the year and think out of the box to come up with creative solutions to clinical problems.
Favorite Cornell experience or memory?
I loved my M.Eng. project with my team. It was challenging and engaging because we were solving a clinical need. We got opportunities to watch live surgeries at Weill Cornell Medicine, brainstorm ideas, attend conferences, and test our ideas at the research facilities available to us at Cornell. We had great mentorship from Dr. Sales and Dr. de Faria. Our team also won the 3rd prize for presenting the project at the annual BME industry engagement day. I am still in touch with my mentors and very glad to still get their help, advice, and recommendation to advance further in my career.
I also enjoyed walking around the beautiful campus during all four seasons.
What advice might you give to CornellBME students considering a similar path to yours?
Meet as many people as you can and build good relationships with your classmates and professors. People at Cornell are brilliant and there is something you can learn from everyone there. Do not be afraid to ask questions. Cornell offers a lot of classes to learn extra-curricular skills as well. Take those classes! Participate in hackathons, research presentation competitions, various societies such as BMES, SWE, and all these little things you do will have a huge impact on your future and your attitude moving forward. These experiences will also help you develop a stronger profile and teach you soft skills such as working in a team, conflict resolution, effective communication, etc., which will stay with you forever and help you grow.
Anything else you’d like to share?
I am proud that the Cornell community is doing their part in these trying times by the research, community awareness, and precautions. Dr. Fauci is very inspiring and it feels great to know he is also part of the Cornell community. I am so grateful to have learnt my responsibility towards society, study science and engineering at this leading institution to be able to contribute to the field of healthcare.
Favorite quote that helps inspire you in your work/life?
“In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity” - Albert Einstein.
We must never give up!