Rupak Dua, FIU BME alum, has recently accepted an assistant professor position at Hampton University. See below to read about his experience at FIU and how his journey led him to his success.
Where are you from?
I am from New Delhi, India. I came to USA in 2007 to pursue a master’s in biomedical engineering which I completed in 2008. In 2009, I joined the Ph.D. program in biomedical engineering and graduated from FIU in 2014.
Where are you currently working?
Currently, I am working as an assistant professor on a tenure-track in the Department of Chemical Engineering in the School of Engineering & Technology at Hampton University in Hampton, Virginia.
How did your experience at FIU BME help you find your position after graduation?
The BME department at FIU prepared me well enough to get my first job as a postdoctoral fellow right after graduation. I ended up at the Institute of Orthopedic Research & Education housed in Texas Medical Center (World’s Largest Medical Center) in Houston, Texas. Meeting people from different background at FIU, along with learning from their diverse backgrounds, gave me an upper edge to work in different environments.
What was your experience like after graduating from FIU?
I am proud to have graduated from FIU. The research experience, teaching facilities, we have is unmatchable. FIU provided a means to present my research in various international and conferences and that opened multiple doors for networking.
How has your transition from school to work been?
My transition from school to work has been pretty smooth. I was already trained in some aspects by my mentors, mainly Dr. Ramaswamy. He was the one who really pushed me to publish papers, present my research at various national and international conferences, and encouraged me to write some grants. Because of that, I was prepared for the change and it was not much of a challenge.
Explain your transition from BME to chemical engineering. Why the change?
Biomedical engineering is an interdisciplinary field. That’s the beauty of our field— that as a biomedical engineer, we can be easily absorbed in material, mechanical, chemical engineering or in the departments of chemistry or biology. You can be in any department and still work in the area you really like. My research interest lies in tissue engineering and orthopedic implants, and I am still working in those areas even though I am in chemical engineering now.
During your time at FIU, what involvements were you a part of?
During my time at FIU, I was involved in various student clubs and I took a leading role mainly in Alpha Eta Mu Beta (AEMB) Biomedical Engineering Honor Society. Not only was I involved as a treasurer and president of AEMB at FIU, but I was the National Student President of AEMB. I was also involved with Delta Epsilon Iota Honor Society, where I held the title of treasurer. Additionally, I was an ambassador for FIU Engineering Expo for several years and took a leading role in Relay for Life. During my time at FIU, I also initiated educational outreach program for West Miami Middle School, in which I received a lot of appreciation from the FIU community.
Did you win any awards and/or scholarships?
I won numerous awards and scholarships during my tenure at FIU based on my research and leadership qualities. Based on my research, I won MBRS RISE 2012 Summer Biomedical Research Initiative Award. I also won an outstanding paper award at the Proceedings of the 2013 ASME Global Congress on Nano Engineering for Medicine and Biology (2013), first Place at Scholarly Forum during Graduate Student Appreciation Week held in FIU and Second place at Statewide Graduate Student Research Symposium that was held in University of South Florida.
Based on my leadership, I won a prestigious University Graduate School (UGS) Provost award for Graduate Student Engagement in 2013, given to only one student every year. I was also awarded with the Dean’s Leadership and Service Scholarship for taking on leadership roles. Because of my exemplary dedication and service to AEMB, I was also awarded the Outstanding Chapter Officer Award from the Nationals.
I won several national and international travel awards to present my work in various national and international conferences including BMES Annual Conferences, American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) conferences, Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine International Society (TERMIS) annual conference, Congress of the Asia Pacific Orthopaedic conference, to name a few.
I was also honored with Dissertation year fellowship (DYF) during my last year of graduation. I was also given Graduate Engineering Tuition Scholar Award, Graduate Teaching and Research Assistantship which made my education loan free.
What are your goals as an engineer?
As an engineer at heart, I want to apply my engineering skills to improve or find solutions to the problems in the musculoskeletal disorder that still exist in clinics using tissue engineering, biomimetic or chemical approaches.
What advice do you have for those beginning the job search process?
Just to start, job search is not an easy task. Searching for job is a job in itself. You have to be patient. Apply, apply and apply. You may get more rejections than offers, but that’s OK. Don’t be disappointed because we are looking for one right job. Networking is extremely important. If you know someone where you are applying, be sure to reach out and ask for insight from them.
Which professors helped to pave the way during your BME experience?
I am really thankful to Dr. McGoron who was not only my advisor for my master’s project, but he also gave me a little push to pursue a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering. He was the first professor I was introduced to when I came in 2007, and to this day, I am still in touch with him! He has been very helpful during my job search and gave me many insights to improve my job application.
I can’t thank Dr. Ramaswamy enough. He has been very helpful at each and every stage of my career. He not only guided me during my dissertation, but is still guiding me now. If I have any question regarding my job, grant, etc., I think of him as my first resort and luckily, his response is always positive.
I am fortunate to have been taught and mentored by several extraordinary teachers at FIU. They inspire me, though it would be more apt to say that they challenge me. When I think of their commitment and excellence in teaching and research, I realize that I have a long, long way to go. They don’t just teach you and guide you during your time at FIU, but they are committed to you for a lifetime.
FIU holds a very special place in my heart. I found my wife Indu (also a graduate from FIU) and many great friends with whom I am still in contact. FIU is a place where you can make your dreams true and I was fortunate enough to have created more than one.