The world’s ongoing shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic has forced social distancing measures to continue into the near future. However, USC’s Department of Biomedical Engineering students are refusing to let the restrictions dampen their sense of community.
The Associated Students of Biomedical Engineering (ASBME) has a strong reputation as a student organization with a full schedule of events promoting community engagement, professional development, education, outreach and social activities. Throughout the year they participate in elementary school outreach projects and host dinners and events with industry and academia. The organization recently presented their annual Make-a-Thon, in which student teams designed and built a stroke rehabilitation device over the course of 48 hours.
But given current global situation, which has resulted in the temporary suspension of on-campus activities, the ASBME Executive Board, led by President Kristie Leung, has been forced to quickly improvise. Rising to the challenge, ASBME has already begun a program of online events to keep student members connected during this challenging period.
“We believe it is our responsibility to continue hosting events to the best of our ability,” Leung said. “Not only to continue providing our members with the resources they would normally have on campus, but also, and more importantly, to keep the BME community strong and connected.”
On April 15 at 7pm, the team is hosting a virtual Q&A session on Zoom with Seth Schachter, an Associate from consulting firm DeciBio, where participants can discover more about consulting in the biotech field. They are also hosting virtual coffee hours with BME professors, including a session with Lecturer of Biomedical Engineering Brittany Kay on April 23 at 3:30pm.
ASBME has already hosted a virtual meeting with Mehmet Sencan Chief Operating Officer of biotech startup Integrated Medical Sensors, as well as an online social, where members were able to play online games together.
“Now more than ever, community is an essential part of keeping our spirits lifted and adapting to this new normal,” Leung said.
Leung said that the organization is also working with other groups on initiatives to contribute to COVID-19 response and fundraising efforts.
ASBME is raising money for the Keck Medicine of USC COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund, which will help healthcare workers obtain vital supplies.
“This fund provides immediate support to protect the Keck healthcare workers with essential materials, as well as funding new quarantine spaces and supporting the families of affected patients,” Leung said.
The ASBME team has also begun to raise funds through a social media fundraiser, where members can contribute donations for COVID-19 relief efforts.
“We are also collaborating with student organization MEDesign, putting together resources for those interested in engaging in the fight against COVID-19,” Leung said. “Members of the MEDesign executive board put together a Facebook group, Trojans Against Corona Virus Outbreak (TACO), where they post opportunities for Trojans to help, whether it be 3-D printing masks for hospitals or participating in Google’s COVID-19 Data Science challenge.”