2002

The Voice: Fall 2002

The Voice

Vos earns REU grant in bio-medical engineering


Nicole Vos says she's always wanted to use her engineering degree to help people.  Her research in bio-medical engineering this summer is leading her to consider graduate school in that area. Other students in the sciences have also found some great opportunities to expand their education beyond the classroom through summer research positions. And they get paid well at the same time, says Jo Faber from Dordt’s Career Placement Office.

Faber says she’s noticed an increase in science internships and grant-funded opportunities over the past few years. She does everything she can to make students aware of these options for summer work.

Senior Nicole Vos took advantage of Faber’s legwork last spring. After seeing a poster for the REU program, she began applying for positions. The Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program is funded by the National Science Foundation, but is offered through a variety of universities across the country. The goal of the program is to spark interest in professions in the sciences.

Vos applied to four and was accepted into three of them. She ended up going to the University of Memphis for research in bio-medical engineering.

“Each school has different areas of specialty, and within those there are still different choices to make based on your interest,” says Vos.

Vos worked in the mechanical engineering department using a machine that gauged the acoustic emissions of bones.

“When bones are put under stress they send out stress waves. We used sensors to determine where a crack was located and how big it was,” she says. The technology she used could be particularly helpful for putting in and monitoring the health of implants. It is difficult to see micro-cracking on x-rays, but this machine could help a doctor see them forming even before they actually crack or help her know how much pressure can be exerted during the implant, Vos says.

“I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do after graduating next spring,” Vos says. Her work in bio-medical engineering has given focus to her thoughts about the future. “I want to directly help people, and this feels like a way I can use my engineering to do so.” She’s also found out that research interests her more than she thought it would.

Vos would recommend the experience to any student in the sciences. Not only did she learn something about bio-medical engineering, but she says she learned a great deal about projects others were working on too. Giving a formal presentation at the end of her work was also a good learning experience, she says. Vos, who spent her summer with pre-med, biology, physics, and other engineering majors from many top research universities, says she felt very comfortable with her educational background.

“I’m glad I had the background in materials science that I did,” she says, “but I know I’ll need more biology in graduate school for bio-medical engineering.”

“It was definitely a good opportunity.”

Nicole Vos says she’s always wanted to use her engineering degree to help people. Her research in bio-medical engineering this summer is leading her to consider graduate school in that area.