Research immerses HBCU undergrads in biomedical engineering – Science Nation


[Music] Miles O’Brien:
As a young man, Robert Cline was a competitive athlete. [natural sound] Miles O’Brien:
A chronic degenerative disk disease
and a stroke changed that. These days, he’s part
of a research study at the University
of the District of Columbia. Lara Thompson: The goal is to
gain new knowledge about balance and how certain training
can influence and improve one’s balance
because ultimately, we want to reduce the number of
falls we see in elderly people. Miles O’Brien:
With support from the National Science Foundation,
Lara Thompson has set up this state-of-the-art
biomechanical engineering lab, both to do research and to inspire
a new generation of students to pursue careers in STEM. For Thompson, it’s a lot like
the “Field of Dreams.” “If you build it,
they will come.” Lara Thompson:
It’s funny that you said that because I’ve had that in my head
since I started here, but I never verbalized
that (laughs). But, I just said, you know,
if I build the lab, if I get the grants
that can furnish the lab and have good activities
for students, then students will come,
and they’ll gain, and they’ll know
what engineering’s about. Miles O’Brien:
U-D-C is an Historically
Black University, as well as the largest
public institution of higher learning
in Washington DC. Lab research assistant:
Could you just put your hands up and 90 degrees here… Lara Thompson:
Education should be something that’s accessible to those
that want it and need it, not just those
that can afford it. Miles O’Brien:
Thompson sees a lot of talent here – promising young people who have
what it takes to succeed. She says what they need is
some inspiration and a chance. Lara Thompson:
Many times, in particular, female students
or high school students, they don’t know necessarily
what engineering is about. They have some ideas
and potentially even stereotypes of what engineers are. And so, we want
to really expose them, so they’re more informed. Tyra Coombs:
Just knowing that everyone’s different and everyone
needs help in different areas has really helped me.
I know I want to be a doctor, so helping people
is what I want to do. Lab research assistant:
Very good step… Miles O’Brien:
The team includes undergraduate research
assistants interacting with
study participants in a dynamic research
lab environment. Here, as the saying goes,
things get real. Lara Thompson:
So, a lot of the work that they do at the University
is tied to course work. It’s not very hands on. There’s more to engineering
than just math, right? There’s a lot of applied things
we actually do in this lab, so students can see right away
the effects of what they do. Jelani Guise:
You’re able to see a tangible difference, and you can see how
you’re helping somebody, so, it’s not very abstract.
What I’m doing. I know will help somebody,
so it’s rewarding. Miles O’Brien:
For Thompson, it’s about giving a leg up to the next generation
of scientists and engineers. Lara Thompson:
So, it’s important for female students
to have mentors and role models, as well as exposure
to what engineering is, but we need to not forget
that male students as well need to be exposed
to female mentors too. I want all of my students,
male or female, to pursue what
their dreams are, and to know that
if it’s something they really want to do, if they push hard enough
for long enough they can make it happen. Miles O’Brien:
It’s been a challenging session for Robert Cline.
He’s done for the day, Lara Thompson: Alright,
thank you. Robert Cline: Bye, bye. Miles O’Brien:
But for the team here at UDC – they’re just getting started. For Science Nation,
I’m Miles O’Brien.

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3 Responses

  1. Ed Jack says:

    it's hard to walk on a foam mat wth

  2. Ed Jack says:

    i bet she still triggered the binary thing

  3. Omar Abdul-Malik DHEd, MPAS, PA-C says:

    Peace be to you all! This makes me so proud!😀I graduated from this OUTSTANDING university in 1994 with a B.S. in Biology.

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