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Internship Profile: Daniel Gizachew, BSME ’18 (UM Biomedical Engineering Neurosensory Research Laboratory)

Name: Daniel Gizachew
Class: 2018
Hometown: Fort Lauderdale, FL
Concentrations: Biomedical Engineering
Internship location: University of Miami Biomedical Engineering Neurosensory Research Laboratory

How did you find this internship?
I learned about this research opportunity through a classmate; I then turned to the biomedical engineering department to learn more.

Describe your internship.
I started out the summer by interfacing MATLAB with arduino hardware support packages. My first project was turning on an LED in arduino and making it ring at a certain frequency, both by using MATLAB code. Then, I was challenged to make a graphic user interface (GUI) so that I could make the LEDs do the same things simply by clicking on buttons in MATLAB.

Then I continued a previous student’s master’s design project. I was given a wooden platform with two identical boxes on it. Each box had an outer shell 3D-printed from some type of plastic; inside each were 24 rows of LED lights. Also, the front of the box has a transparent plastic screen marked with a black dot in the center. The test subject focuses their eyes on the black dot as the box’s screen flashes with every other row of LED’s on. I then take data on the test subject’s neural activity as they are watching this flashing black and white screen, then analyze the graphical data using MATLAB.

What did you learn at CoE that has helped you at your summer internship?
MATLAB has been helpful to me, and the C++ I learned in my programming class helped a lot with coding in arduino. Also, a lot of basic circuit theory principles helped with what to do and what not do regarding hardware.

What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned at this program?
That it is very important to be patient and not to give up, ever. Also, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Projects that I would normally quit on halfway have become very doable because of the resources and because of those very willing to help me at the University.

Why has this been a good experience for you?
It has helped me enjoy the true value of research as I get ready to apply for graduate schools. It has shown me what working in a lab really means. Most of all, it has made me really appreciate my mentors, Ibrahim Kaya and Jorge Bohorquez, PhD, associate professor in practice in the Department of Biomedical Engineering. Ibrahim, a PhD student, is the one who often gives me electrical projects to work on and guides me when I am stuck on a problem. Dr. Bohorquez, one of the directors of the lab, is my go-to when everything that “should work,” doesn’t. He helps me troubleshoot complex electrical problems. Both have shown me how wonderful the pursuit of a PhD is, and the infinite realm of possibilities that hands-on research can bring.

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