Sydney Mayer: Biomedical Engineering Graduating Student Q&A

| May 10, 2021

The biomedical engineering student has been competing on an international stage in roller derby, while working on research that aims to improve lives of children with movement disorders like cerebral palsy.

Sydney Mayer

Sydney Mayer

Sydney Mayer
Denver, Colorado
Biomedical Engineering Progressive Degree Program 

What first inspired you to study engineering?

After thinking I wanted to be a doctor for most of my childhood, in high school I realized that the field of biomedical engineering allowed for flexibility and ingenuity within the medical field while still making a direct impact on people. Engineering was better aligned with my desire to build and create new technologies that would make impacts on a much larger magnitude but gave me much of the same purpose.

What was a highlight of your time at USC Viterbi?

One of my major highlights was participating in the ASBME Makeathon my sophomore year and seeing how quickly new technologies could be developed to directly improve the lives of patients across the globe. Seeing how different teams approached the same problem from different directions but each came up with an impactful technology was inspiring and continued to motivate me as an engineer.

Are there any extracurricular activities or organizations you have been part of during your studies?

I was involved in a lot of extracurriculars but my two most important were competing in Women’s Roller Derby off-campus and Science Outreach on-campus. I played with LA Angel City Derby for all 4 years of college and competed at a global level on the varsity travel team ranked #7 in the world. I travelled off campus 3-4 days a week for practice and competed in tournaments across the US, Canada, and Europe. I even managed to squeeze a tournament in during the middle of finals one semester! On campus my most rewarding extracurricular was SCout, an organization that teaches weekly science lessons to local elementary schools that do not start to teach science curriculum until the 5th grade. As a session leader for over 2 years, I lead a team of college students into a new classroom every semester, teaching science buzzwords and experiments, but more importantly inspiring the next generation of scientists!

Tell us about the research you have been working on that made an impact on you.

For two years I worked in a research lab working on improving the lives of children with movement disorders like cerebral palsy and dysautonomia. I worked with a post doc on a project to develop an orthotic robot arm that used pressured pneumatic muscles to assist and control arm motions. I focused on designing a force sensing glove that would interact with the world while doing things like holding a water bottle or opening a door, so that the information about external forces could be measured and converted into extra pressure requirements for the pneumatic muscles on the arm. This research was both an invigorating experience to apply my classroom engineering knowledge to the real world and an inspired opportunity to see how designing medical devices achieved my goal of making a direct impact on people’s lives.

What are your plans after graduation?

Post graduation I am starting a full time career in parallel with completing my master’s degree. I will be starting this summer at Edwards Lifesciences, a medical device development company in Irvine, CA in the Technical Development Program. I will complete four rotations across the next year in different business units and functional roles to further explore the industry and develop both my technical and leadership skills. I will also be completing my Progressive Degree Program at USC with a master’s in medical device & diagnostic engineering by December 2021.

What will you miss most about USC?

I’ll miss most the community of students at USC. The friendships and comradery in our classes allowed us to make it through the toughest professors and assignments. But the same people would celebrate your successes in extracurriculars, be your sounding board for research, and be the people you explore LA with on the weekends. The same people stayed connected and carried through four years of classes, building a community that pushed each other to not just to succeed but to thrive.

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