Isaac Loegering

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Isaac Loegering, Biomedical Engineering Student

How did you decide to come to UW-Madison for engineering?

There are many factors that drew me to UW-Madison. For one thing, the campus is beautiful, straddled by Lake Mendota to the north and Lake Menona to the east. The people are incredibly friendly, and the Badger pride is conspicuous–you’re always walking in a sea of red. Additionally, UW-Madison has a lot of great programs and instructors, especially for engineers. Its highly ranked programs may have been what drew me to UW-Madison’s College of Engineering, but the people with whom I’ve worked and learned over my four years as an undergrad are what kept me here.

As a biomedical engineering (BME) student, I have had the opportunity to work with some pretty incredible faculty members through my coursework, design projects, and research lab experiences. UW-Madison has an incredibly active research community, and it was not hard to find projects that interested me. In addition to providing fun and exciting coursework that has helped me develop my engineering skills, my department has also become like a family to me. Outside of the classroom, my department hosts game nights, breakfasts, grill-outs, and other social events where I’ve connected to other students and faculty within the department. It’s this kind of welcoming and supportive environment that has made my undergraduate experience truly special.

Still, there’s one more piece to the puzzle of why I chose UW-Madison: the game day environment. The Madison game day environment is unlike any others, and as a member of the University of Wisconsin Marching Band, I’ve played an intimate part in helping create this environment. Whether you’re a sports fan or not, the Badger game day experience is an unforgettable one, and it is what sold me on this university.

What was your transition like during your first year on
campus?

Transitioning to college life my first year on campus was not as bad as I was expecting. You often hear about how challenging it can be to go from living at home with your parents to living in the dorms, but it was far from overwhelming. Campus has a lot of resources to help first-year students with the transition, and fellow first-year students can be an invaluable resource themselves. I think my fairly smooth transition was due in large part to the support I received from the groups that I joined and the people I met freshman year. The Marching Band immediately became my new family. I also met my best friend in Calculus I my first semester of college. The first day of classes is always a little strange because you don’t really know anyone, but if you just stick your hand out to the person next to you and introduce yourself, you’ll immediately become friends. Everyone is in the same boat when it comes to meeting new people. Sometimes all it takes is the courage to strike up a conversation with someone. If you can make at least one friend your first week of college, you’ll be just fine!

How did you choose your major?

Admittedly, I initially chose to pursue engineering for the same reason a lot of people do: I was good a math and science. Still, being good at math and science isn’t what makes an engineer an engineer. Engineers are engineers because they have this inherent desire to solve problems. For me, this desire was to help solve problems in healthcare. In middle school, I had my heart set on being a doctor. I had been in and out of hospitals and clinics all my life with ear infections, allergies, sports injuries,…you name it! I knew the importance of quality healthcare and wanted to be a part of helping people live better lives. As I began to take higher level math and science courses in high school and I began to think about where I wanted to go to college, I started to consider other career options, including engineering. When I discovered biomedical engineering, I knew it was for me. It combined my love of math and science with my desire to help people.

How have you personalized your education?

There are a lot of ways you can personalize your education within engineering. Within each major, you can choose an area of specialization. My major, biomedical engineering, has five different areas of specialization, or tracks: bioinstrumentation, biomedical imaging, biomechanics, biomaterials/cell/tissue engineering, and health care systems. I chose to pursue biomechanics for my program because I was particularly interested in how engineering principles can be applied to the design of devices that help with people’s mobility.

In addition to selecting a specialization, you can add a major or certificate (minor) to personalize your education. In addition to majoring in biomedical engineering, I am also getting certificates in biology and computer science. I love computers, and having the option to work toward a computer science certificate and take advanced computer science courses, such as artificial intelligence, has definitely made my education feel like my own.

What has been your favorite or most rewarding part of being a student on
campus?

Although I’ve had a lot of great experiences, my most rewarding has definitely been the Marching Band. Combining my love of athletics and musical performance, the Marching Band has given me opportunities to travel with a fun group of people to football stadiums around the country. I’ve marched pregame and halftime shows in front of tens of thousands of screaming fans. I’ve marched in parades all around the state of Wisconsin. I’ve seen people’s faces light up as they hear us begin to play On, Wisconsin. It has been a truly amazing experience, and I’ve developed life-long friendships with many members of the band.

Have you had an internship/co-op/job that helped solidify
what you want to do?

My research lab experiences have certainly contributed to my career decisions. Exposure to a wide variety of different projects has helped me realize all the cool things you can do with a degree in biomedical engineering, particularly within biomechanics for me. I have worked in two different labs these last few years, both with their own set of experiences. At the Tactile Communication and Neurorehabilitation Laboratory (TCNL), I had the opportunity to work with people with disabilities due to neuromuscular disorders. I found it incredibly rewarding to see how people’s lives changed for the better as a result of the work that we were doing. I have also worked at the UW Neuromuscular Biomechanics Laboratory where I’ve worked on several projects, one relating to balance and the other relating to ACL injuries. These experiences have helped me realize that I want to do something that focuses on lower limb biomechanics. I want to design devices that either improve people’s mobility or help prevent injury during tasks, such as walking and running. When I graduate, I’d like to either design lower-limb prosthetics or athletic shoes.

What resources would you recommend to engineering students?

I highly recommend developing good relationships with professors, especially those within your field of study. If you can work with them in a lab, even better! Networking is an important factor when it comes to landing a job. My last two jobs were due, in part, to a referral made by one of my former bosses. I demonstrated that I was a hard worker at my first lab job and received a good recommendation for a position in another research lab. I went on to become a TA for my boss at the second lab and have continued to work for him ever since.

What has been your favorite Engineering course? Why?

I really enjoyed Dynamic Systems. Applications of the course material were incredibly transparent. There was rarely a time when I questioned how I would actually be able to use what we were learning. Additionally, the concepts I learned in this class are generalizable and can be extended to a lot of different fields. Since I took it as a mechanical engineering course, there was an emphasis on mechanical systems, but I could see how the same techniques could be applied to electrical systems or any system described by differential equations. I also had a really great professor who explained the concepts well and showed lots of examples in class.

What has been your course outside of engineering? Why? How did you choose it?

Varsity Band is by far the best elective course I have taken. Varsity Band is the name given to the class that is the University of Wisconsin Marching Band. We perform for athletic events during the school year, including football games in the fall, and we put on a big concert in the Kohl Center every spring. I chose to try out for the band because my brother had been a part of this group for several years and had a lot of great stories about his experiences. Additionally, the band combines my love of athletics with my love of musical performance, so it was a no-brainer.

What final piece of advice would you give to incoming engineering students?

Don’t be afraid to meet new people, especially within your program. Your’re going to have a lot of classes with these people. Don’t wait until senior year to get to know them (they’re probably pretty cool).