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It really works!

A leg prosthesis made to the dimensions of a rat hind leg

It has been awhile since I updated my posts on Dose of Reality, so in that sense, the title of this entry is appropriate. On the other hand, I thought of this title abit in advance, specifically when I re-entered the world of engineering education this September. It has been two and a half years now since I have been a member of the University of Michigan student community. But for the first two years, I was mostly a member of the medical student community. Cue the month of September, first day of my PhD program in mechanical engineering; new campus (North Campus 1.5 miles away from the medical campus), new classes (Linear Systems Theory & Dynamics), new way of thinking…

Or perhaps not so new. I was an engineering student in biomedical and mechanical engineering before becoming a medical student, so re-entering the engineering domain was a bittersweet re-introduction with an old acquaintance. To be honest, I had forgotten a lot about what engineering classes and research was like: the large homework assignments (I had my first hw assignment in 3 years back in September), the open ended questions waiting to be answered, but also the thrill of exploring different and uncharted paths… Ok, not exactly strong selling points.

But at the very least, I’m glad to be doing research again and working in a field in which I feel comfortable knowledge-wise. Sure, there is a lot I have to learn, but at least I am somewhat used to thinking the way an engineer / engineering grad student would. I am also pretty excited about my current research projects: Finishing work and experiments on a robot capable of replicating the process of suturing by measuring the forces and trajectories of human hands as they suture; designing a mechanical rat leg prosthesis (pictured) and experiments to collect rat brain wave data in the hopes of figuring out when the rat thinks to use its leg , so that at that point the prosthesis can replicate the intended motion, and finally finishing the statistical analyses on experiments performed with a balance aid for the elderly.

Nevertheless, I am starting to miss my days at the medical school. I am not sure I miss the idea or responsibilities of being a third year medical student, but I definitely miss my friends whom now I get to see less and less…