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Bioengineering Undergrads Receive BMES Outstanding Chapter Industry Program Award

PITTSBURGH (Aug. 3, 2020) … For many students, part of a fulfilling undergraduate experience is engaging with like-minded peers and interacting with professionals who can help guide and advance their careers. Bioengineering undergraduates at the University of Pittsburgh cultivate these connections through the student chapter of the Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES), and the group was recently recognized for their efforts.

BMES awarded Pitt’s undergraduate chapter the 2020 Outstanding Chapter Industry Program Award, which recognizes “chapters who demonstrate outstanding partnership with industries in their community.” It also acknowledges groups that “go above and beyond by creating joint programs with academic and industry leaders in the BME field in order to give their members a headstart upon graduation.”

Pitt BMES’ interactions with local industry along with professional development activities throughout the year landed them the highest score among a nationally competitive roster.

“Through professional networking events, social outings, and outreach opportunities, we have helped solidify a true undergraduate biomedical engineering community that makes students’ time at Pitt both more valuable and enjoyable,” said Tyler Bray (BioE BS ‘20), who led the chapter as president during the 2019-2020 academic year.

The group provides an opportunity to learn and network with local leaders in the field through biomedical industry site visits, clinical and industrial panel presentations, and networking dinners with both industry and academic professionals. 

“Networking is an essential part of what we do in our chapter of BMES,” said Daniela Krahe, a senior bioengineering student at Pitt and the elected president for the 2020-2021 academic year. “It gives students the confidence to navigate the post-grad career life and helps build their professional skills. When they graduate, they are less anxious about their first job in bioengineering because they’ve already been exposed to many aspects of industry.”

Among the professional development opportunities is a career fair tailored to bioengineering students. This past year, they hosted 11 companies who offered cooperative education, internship, and full-time positions. More than 150 students attended the 2019 event, and the group plans to make the 2020 event even larger. 

“Organizing the 2019 career fair was very rewarding, and working with the leadership team, particularly Tyler, on the career fair was a blast. The enthusiasm shown by the BMES officers was indeed invigorating and a key aspect in the event’s success,”  said Arash Mahboobin, assistant professor of bioengineering, BMES chapter advisor, and director of the undergraduate program.

“Considering that close to half of our graduates opt for an industry position, this award is very timely and, in my opinion, deserved as it reflects the tremendous effort our undergraduate BMES chapter leadership team has put in place towards partnering with industry leaders. I am extremely proud of this achievement and applaud Pitt BMES’ efforts wholeheartedly,” he continued.

The chapter provided additional professional development opportunities such as mock interviews, resume reviews, and Bioengineering Day -- a research showcase and networking event, in collaboration with the graduate BMES chapter. These events gave students more opportunities to connect with faculty and prepare for life after graduation.

“BMES has opened up a lot of professional doors for me, and I’m really excited we were able to continue doing that for our peers this year,” said Bray. “BMES strives to provide an all-around experience for the bioengineers at Pitt, and this year we focused on amplifying our exposure to industry. 

“We’re fortunate to have top-notch talent in Pittsburgh and around the country, from startup co-founders to design engineers at Fortune 500 companies, who all love to be involved with Pitt BMES,” he continued. “Our student body, myself included, has a jump-start on our careers because of the relationship-building opportunities BMES has facilitated with these awesome industry partners.”

As the winning chapter, the undergraduate group will be asked to lead a best practice panel at the virtual BMES Annual Meeting in October 2020. They will also participate in a webinar featuring their successes.

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Contact: Leah Russell