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Bioengineering Personal Statement, First Draft

Although I did not know it at the time, I see now that my interest in Bioengineering first took root when I participated in the role-playing game Shadowrun. Based in the year 2050, the Shadowrun universe features a somewhat post-apocalyptic earth where magic and myth run amuck among a high-tech society that is the fusion of Japanese and American cultures. Yet in spite of the powerful magic spells and the intricate Matrix-esque world of the “deckers”, I found that for me, the most intriguing part of the Shadowrun world were the cybernetics – an assortment of electro-mechanical implants that would turn an ordinary individual into something extraordinary. My interest didn’t stop there, however. Unfulfilled by the limited offerings in the official “Sourcebooks,” my companions and I developed a completely new set of cybernetics and compiled the Rachman Catalog. While many of the details have faded in the years since I last played, I still clearly remember the slogan we placed on the front of the Rachman Catalog: “When the going gets tough, even the weak can go shopping.”

Years later, during my senior year in high school, I conducted a research project into cybernetics, though I quickly learned that the correct term was “bionics.” I was thrilled to learn about the state of the art, including the highly successful cochlear implant and the early work into restoring vision to the blind. Perhaps, if I had attended the UW then, I would have learned about the nascent Bioengineering department and enrolled. Instead, I took a different path, before eventually finding my way back here. Yet looking back through all the turmoil that led to my departure from BYU, I realized that at least some part of me knew what I really wanted to do all along – for when I finally sat down with an advisor, we were both amazed at how much of the Bioengineering curriculum I had already completed, without ever consciously planning to do any such thing.

Last quarter, I received warnings from two friends I met on a flag football team (of all places!), both of whom had left the Bioengineering program. They told me that the courses, especially the labs, were highly unstructured and often hard to parse or comprehend. While at the time I nodded sagely at their advice, upon reflection I realized that this is exactly how the real engineering world is. If my experience at Microvision is anything to go by, innovation rarely comes from following the well-trodden paths. Instead, innovators must take roads less traveled, perhaps stumbling on occasion, in order to learn and create. The more I thought about it, the more convinced I became that what my two friends had described was not only acceptable, but necessary for a cutting-edge program. If we are truly “inventing the future of medicine,” we cannot take Main Street and expect a novel destination. I am excited at the opportunity I have had to apply to this program and I can honestly say that I have never been more motivated or directed in my life.

I believe that my unique experiences and accomplishments will bring a lot to the Bioengineering program. For example, I am an active mentor with a FIRST Robotics team, the Titan Robotics Club (TRC), which I co-founded during my senior year in high school. The TRC had such an important impact on my life that when I returned to the area, I began working with the team again so that I could help other high school students have an experience similar to mine. Since I rejoined the TRC, the club has won back-to-back regional competitions and placed highly at The Championship (5th and 9th out of 300 teams). I say this not to boast (though I do like to brag about the kids on the team), but to show that I understand the motivation and dedication it takes to build a winning team. Another example is my work experience at Microvision. Originally slated as a three to six month position, I have now been at it for nearly two years, and I have worked projects that I would never associate with an intern’s normal role – including business trips to meet with important clients and the development of mission-critical applications delivered to partners and consumers. The arrangement has been mutually beneficial – they provide flexibility and experience and I deliver high-quality work and timely results. Finally, Bioengineering is not my only interest. From my transcripts, you will see that I have chosen to take a wider variety of science and technology classes than is necessary to apply to the department. This is because I genuinely enjoy learning about and understanding how our universe works and because, if I am so lucky as to be accepted to both Bioengineering and Computer Engineering, I plan to major in both.

If given the chance to graduate in Bioengineering at the UW, I cannot promise anything astonishing. I can, however, promise that I will devote myself to excelling in all aspects of the curriculum. Based on my record I hope you will agree that this is good enough.

4 Responses to “Bioengineering Personal Statement, First Draft”

  1. Ryan Says:

    Comments welcome and appreciated. Tear it apart if you want; I can take it and it can only help me do better.

  2. dc Says:

    Good stuff. I originally planned on just reading the first paragraph, but my curiosity was perked and I made it all the way through.

    A few things leaped out at me:

    ” I met on a flag football team (of all places!), both of whom”
    The ‘of all places!’ in parantheses seems kind of unncessary @_@.

    “Another example is my work experience at Microvision.” Sounds a bit fragmented since the rest of your essay preceeding that ppoint flowed smoothly (in terms of punctuation and sentence structuring).

    “if I am so lucky as to be accepted ”
    I think you should drop the ‘lucky’ bit. Right now the entire sentence sounds passive – perhaps you want to make it sound more confident? I’d go as far as to wipe out that entire line starting with the ‘if’ as you use ‘if’ again the very next sentence – an issue of consonance.

    Overall – good stuff. Seriously, I didn’t plan did read more than the beginning, but the content caught my eye and carried me through to the end.

  3. Ryan Says:

    Reading it again, all of 30 minutes after writing it, I think you’re right — the ending is really weak. I think that happened because I was reading it and thinking, I hope they don’t think I’m super cocky. But this is sort of an interview, and I do need to convey confidence. So that needs to go. If anything, I will pair down something else so as to not make me think, “wow, I’m so great” whenever I read it… haha.

    Thanks for the comments!

  4. Ben McElroy Says:

    Hehe…I remember the Rachman catalog…good times. It reads very well and very hopeful. But yeah that ending needs work. It need to be “I will apply myself for the betterment of the world” type thing …but not so grandiose or conceited. Something like “I’d like to graduate in Bioengineering from the University of Washington to fulfill my dream of making a difference in the world” – of course you’ll have to tailor it. Oh and stoke their egos slightly and lightly . That can be helpful especially among a State University where politics, unfortunately, play a role. And saying that their program is unstructured might be a bad way of doing that. Perhaps saying that “the program is novel in its approaches” might be a better way of saying its unstructured and therefore more likely to produce innovative results. But it sounds very opromistic and gung-ho and I’m sure they like that. Almost everyone does. Good luck and best wishes!

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