Bioengineering graduate student and newly appointed IBIOE Call Me Doctor® fellow Megan Casco has known for a long time that engineering was her destiny.
“I remember exactly where I was when I decided I wanted to be an engineer,” she laughs. “I was riding with my Dad in the car and he turns around and looks at me and says now that I was in the 7th grade it was time to decide my college major.”
She realized she was always very good in math and science so, at the age of 12, she decided engineering was for her. It wasn’t until a few years down the road while expressing her fascination with medicine and the medical industry to her chemistry teacher when she heard the term “bioengineering” for the first time. Her high school teacher nudged her towards the field and she was set on her career path.
Megan looked at in-state engineering schools and chose Clemson for her undergraduate career. Soon, she began working in the Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) office, a program to support, mentor and tutor female students in the STEM majors. As a senior, Megan became a mentor, a Big Sister, and began tutoring and holding study sessions. Her love of community programs grew when she was put in charge of an outreach program for middle school girls to ignite their interest in STEM careers. She developed a module that focused on 6th grade females where each month she would focus on one engineering field. Starting with basic information, Megan would provide fun facts and profile two well- known accomplished women in that field to let them know that they, these 12 year old girls, too can do science and engineering. Each outreach program ended with an activity where the girls played out being an engineer. For instance, for civil engineering day, she gave students aluminum foil, straw, and tape and just 15 minutes to build a boat. The boats that could hold the most rocks won the challenge.
In May 2014, she earned her Bachelor of Science degree in bioengineering. Under the direction of Department of Bioengineering professor Dr. Frank Alexis, who Megan has worked for since her sophomore year in college, Megan is now pursuing her Ph.D. in bioengineering where her research focuses on using nanoparticles in tissue engineering.
It is required that CMD® fellows participate in an IBIOE community service project relevant to their dissertation. Through a program established by Dr. Alexis, Megan spent a summer semester in Singapore conducting materials science research at Nanyang Technological University. With her CMD® fellowship, Megan is looking into doing an outreach program that centers on undergraduates in study abroad programs.
“My goal is to see how working in a foreign research laboratory affects the students when they return back to their school,” she says. “To find out the impact of what an international research experience has on them would be fascinating.”