During the REU program, I worked on two different projects with Dr. Laura Prosser and Dr. Valentina Graci. These projects make the best use of the phrase “working in a multidisciplinary team.” One project identified the most reliable metrics to quantify coordination in children with cerebral palsy and to measure the degree of impairment in children with cerebral palsy. My work consisted of identifying relevant motor coordination metrics and adding their calculations to an existing motion capture signal processing code. Working on this project, I gained analysis skills with pediatric biomechanical data using advanced signal processing tools.
My role in the second project was to assist in data collection for a postural instability study, which allowed me to gain experience in data collection with an accelerometer, EMG, and EEG data capture. I also learned the proper use of equipment to minimize user error.
These experiences also allowed me to strengthen my communication skills in order to succeed while working with a multidisciplinary team in two different laboratories with two different supervisors. This dynamic pushed me to contribute to both laboratories in a proactive and independent way, while supporting the overall team effort. I worked very closely with a Drexel student majoring in Computer Science and Physics who oriented me to solve problems using MATLAB code, while I helped him understand the characteristics of human motion and how it differs from machines. In addition, I was able to work in collaboration with engineers from Dr. Graci’s team: John Burns, Madeleine Griffith, and Zuo Wang.
One of the most valuable experiences was receiving feedback from Dr. Graci and Dr. Prosser. It is very hard to acknowledge that you make mistakes, but I learned the most through them. Besides, they helped me realize the type of leader I would like to be one day. This experience helped me develop the strength to follow my dream of getting my PhD in Bioengineering with a concentration in Injury Biomechanics.
I will never be thankful enough for this opportunity. I came from Argentina with no idea how to insert myself into college. I jumped into a degree in Exercise and Sports Science to eventually become a physical therapist. The CIRP REU program gave the opportunity to assure my passion for this field. Now, I am sure of what my goal is, and I have the freedom and understanding to reach it.