‘Tis the season of college admissions. As I see tours of high school students and parents walking through campus, I’m reminded of how I ended up at USC for my graduate degree.
Disclaimer: USC is my alma mater from undergraduate days so I’m a Trojan through-and-through. Thus, this is my biased opinion, though I tried to be objective.
My reasons for choosing USC, ranked in order of importance:
1. Cutting-edge research- The BME department here is focused on translational research and every lab is doing something unique. The picture on the left shows one of the steps in the making a bellows mold that I worked on improving for more consistent fabrication of drug delivery micro-pumps as an undergrad in the Biomedical Microsystems Lab (BML). Whether it’s implantable BioMEMS micro devices for neural engineering, tumor micro environments and tissue engineering, or the first FDA-approved retinal prosthetic, it’s all developed here. The list goes on and on. Best of all, the professors are passionate, knowledgeable, and care about students.
2. Location, location, location – SoCal is one of the biggest BME hubs in the United States, and the biggest medical device hub in the world (by volume of companies). They say that you usually work in the same geographic region where you do your undergraduate degree (or graduate). Since I had done my undergraduate degree here, I felt ready to return to home turf and renew my network. Plus, good weather can’t be overrated.
3. Campus culture – Despite their intelligence, most students can have a normal, down-to-earth conversation with you, and you may not realize how accomplished they are until much later. Everyone has a passion but is curious to learn about your passion as well. Students help each other succeed. This collaborative attitude is one trait that sets apart my USC friends and peers from others in the workplace.
Everyone is aware of the strength of the USC alumni network. What may be less well-known is the myriad of resources to be an innovator, an entrepreneur, or whatever your heart desires. You simply have to ask and you shall receive it (although be prepared for copious red tape).