Seth, University of Puget Sound, studied Biomedical Engineering at DIS Stockholm. Read on as Seth shares his experience from visiting local labs and universities, learning about Swedish engineering innovations, and how his semester abroad has helped shape his plans for the future.
DIS: Hi Seth! Why did you choose to study engineering at DIS Stockholm?
S: I wanted to come to Stockholm for engineering largely because we didn’t have a broad biomedical engineering field at my school. Sweden is known for innovations like the X-ray, and it is home to the Nobel Prize, which is the biggest award in science, basically. So I wanted to come here because I felt like I could really get close up personal with engineering, and specifically biomedical engineering, while also being abroad. To me, that was the best of both worlds.
DIS: What is your academic background?
S: At the University of Puget Sound, I am a molecular and cellular biology major. I am also in a dual degree engineering program for biomedical engineering, which means I’ll spend a couple of years at Puget Sound doing my biology degree. Then I will transfer to an engineering school and do a specific biomedical engineering degree.
DIS: What was important for you to know before you applied to DIS as an engineering student?
S: One of the big things was how the curriculum would fit into what I’ve learned in the past, and also how my credits would transfer. That is a big thing when you’re an engineering student, because you have a lot of credits to take. I really liked the Core Course I chose because I felt like it covered a lot of the things that I would be interested in as a future biomedical engineer.
DIS: What does a typical class day look like?
S: A typical class day usually has a lot of variation, and includes a lecture of the material that we’re learning about, and then some sort of hands-on project. When we were working on modeling we used many different programs and engineering tools to do the modeling ourselves instead of just learning about it. Now that we’re working on medical imaging, we have been doing small experiments on basic medical imaging or ultrasound imaging. We also have some lab days that are totally hands-on and all about learning.
I really love that the classes are small, and I appreciate the one on one teaching that I can get from my teachers.
DIS: What have been some highlights of you Biomedical Engineering Core Course so far?
S: The course is focused on experiential learning, which I really love. In my last class, we went to one of the local universities and got to use an ultrasound machine and take images. I took an image of my carotid artery, which was super cool.
During Core Course week we went to Uppsala University, which is about 45 minutes north of Stockholm. We visited a 3D printing lab and a tissue printing lab, which was really interesting. We also went to a hydrogel lab, which is cutting edge biomedical tech that’s still in the research phase. Getting all that hands-on learning during Core Course week was really cool.
I think it’s really a good thing not just for engineers, but for any professional or academic to be well rounded and have expertise, or at least knowledge outside of their field.
DIS: Who are your professors at DIS?
S: For my engineering course, we have two teachers. The first is a PhD at KTH, which is one of the universities in Stockholm, who studies pharmacokinetics and system modeling. With this teacher we have done modeling for the dynamics of drugs in your body, and other sort of systems like that. The second teacher is an ultrasound engineer, also at KTH. She is doing more of the medical imaging side of biomedical engineering, as well as more hospital clinical stuff that we’re learning about.
I love that I’m able to approach my professors or teachers and talk to them one on one, and really get to know not only the subject that they’re teaching, but also their teaching style and how I can best learn from them. All of my faculty that I’ve talked to really want to be here; every single one of them is so friendly and super invested in teaching. I love that they show that effort.
DIS: What is it like to take classes outside of engineering?
S: I think it’s really a good thing not just for engineers, but for any professional or academic to be well rounded and have expertise, or at least knowledge outside of their field. I like learning things that are specific to Sweden and engineering or things that I can use in other aspects of my life.
Outside of my engineering course, I’m taking a photography and discovery course, Swedish language and culture, and tumor oncology in biology course.
How does your study abroad experience fit into your plans for the future?
S: Study abroad is a really good way to challenge yourself in ways that you may not otherwise be challenged, and push yourself outside of your comfort zone in ways that you may not get at home. I think that really prepares you well for a work environment, or maybe working in a place that you wouldn’t have considered yourself at first. I feel like now I would be comfortable moving to another country for a job, which is something that I probably wouldn’t have said beforehand.
My Core Course has really shown me what it’s like to study biomedical engineering, because this is my first real taste of the engineering courses that I’m going to be taking in the future. I am really grateful for that, because I wasn’t actually sure that I wanted to do biomedical engineering until I really got a taste for it.
What will you bring back with you after you study abroad experience?
S: What an academic or biomedical engineering career can look like in another country. I think that I really only had a U.S. academic perspective before. Therefore, hearing the perspectives of my faculty here, and the people that I’ve interacted with in the labs during our Field Studies has been really insightful into what a career in biomedical engineering can look like outside of the States.
I feel like now I would be comfortable moving to another country for a job, which is something that I probably wouldn’t have said beforehand.
DIS: What advice would you give prospective engineering students?
S: Take classes that you may not be taking at your home school that you can incorporate into an engineering degree, or even ones that you just are interested in. I think it may surprise you how you can use the information you learned in those classes in an engineering degree, and you can learn a lot of things that you may not necessarily have the opportunity to see otherwise.
Learn more about life as an Engineering student at DIS