Written by Jessica Barzilay
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Programming? Check. Electronics? Check. Machining, brainstorming, and reading? Check, check check. Despite their varied nature, the above tasks are all in a day’s work for Ishan Chattrejee, a rising sophomore at Harvard University.
Working in the Harvard Biodesign Lab under the auspices of its founder, assistant professor Conor Walsh, Chatterjee is assisting with medical engineering projects this summer after beginning work in the lab during his freshman spring. His immediate focus: designing a force sensor for straps to be used in an assistive walking exosuit.
“It is gratifying to see your project through from idea to product, and having new and interesting challenges each step of the way,” Chatterjee said. “That’s the nature of engineering.”
The Biodesign Lab represents some of the interdisciplinary and rapidly growing programs of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, on the cusp of physical growth with its impending relocation to Allston. As the SEAS website articulates, the Biodesign Lab “brings together researchers from the engineering, industrial design, medical and business communities to develop smart medical devices and translate them to industrial partners in collaboration with the Wyss Institute's Advanced Technology Team.”
After learning about the lab on Harvard’s SEAS website, Chatterjee expressed interest, met with the principal investigator, and subsequently began work as a researcher.
During the summer, Chatterjee’s research qualified him for Harvard’s undergraduate Program for Research in Science and Engineering, or PRISE. PRISE is one among several summer research programs that unify students in an on campus community from June to August, with planned activities like hikes and go-kart building.
“I learn as much from the other students as I do on my own research project,” Chatterjee said.