September 22, 2020
Marshall Mendoza displays his design project, the “De-Coronizer 7000,” a portable box which cleans face masks using a UV light.
Marshall Mendoza displays his design project, the “De-Coronizer 7000,” a portable box which cleans face masks using a UV light.

Fourteen Catholic University students participated in a virtual internship program this summer with the Biomedical Engineering Alliance of Cleveland — a partnership between Case Western Reserve University and the Cleveland Clinic. 

As part of the 10-week program — which drew 500 participants from more than 50 universities around the world — the students participated in virtual seminars, “fireside chats” with biomedical engineering faculty, and a remote research-and-design project to promote Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) compliance at universities. 

Junior Marshall Mendoza said he was excited to participate in the internship as a way to learn more about specializations in the biomedical engineering field. He also enjoyed being able to hear from engineers and students from around the country. For his design project — a mobile system for cleaning face masks — he was paired with students from California, Pennsylvania, and Florida.

“If anything, this really opened my worldview of what biomedical engineering looks like,” he said. “When you're stuck in one place, you can be stuck with the mindset of that city. We had professors coming from different areas, so there could be a lot more diversity in terms of the way people view things.”  

As part of her research and design project, sophomore Shaila Biswas worked with a team to design a DIY mask upgrade kit that could allow users to make masks more comfortable to wear in public with the help of a cooling gel insert. She said she enjoyed the internship because of the seminars offering advice and personal stories about graduate schools and career paths. 

“I learned a lot about people in the field, what they did, their research, and how they got there,” Biswas said. “One of my favorite talks was from a biomedical engineer who shared how to get into medical school — the qualities you need and what they are looking for.” 

Professor Peter Lum, chair of biomedical engineering, said he was grateful to Cleveland Clinic and Case Western Reserve University for offering a virtual opportunity that benefited so many students. 

“A virtual internship of this kind must have been a massive effort,” Lum said. “I hope they can offer this opportunity again in the future.”    

Biswas said she was grateful to participate at a time when so many other engineering internship opportunities were cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic. 

“I'm just so happy and lucky,” she said. “I hope that Catholic University will continue to find those opportunities for students.”