DeCleene Has Earned Bachelor's and Master's Degrees in Biomedical Engineering

Activities at UVA: Cavalier Marching Band, Alpha Omega Epsilon, Tau Beta Pi, and University Dance Club

Q: Looking back to the time when you applied to UVA Engineering, why did you choose this school? 

A: I was really interested in biomedical engineering, and I saw that the UVA BME program was well developed and provided opportunities to explore different aspects of BME. I also was impressed by UVA Engineering as a whole; I wanted to come out of school as a well-rounded engineer, not simply one that would be technically strong. From what I understood about UVA’s requirements, I knew that I would get opportunities to write, discuss ethics, and improve communication skills that are so vital in the engineering field but are often absent.

After your time here, how are you different now – how have you grown as a person?

In my undergraduate BME career, I became comfortable with who I am as a person, became much more responsible, and I learned to be kind to myself. In my master’s program, I became more confident, resilient, and learned how to be an advocate for myself.

What was your favorite or most memorable educational experience at UVA Engineering, and why? Was there someone who helped you along your journey?

My most memorable experience is my master's project, where my partner Mariana Alvarez and I worked to develop a medical device prototype based on a clinical challenge we identified along with our clinical advisor, Dr. Min Park, a UVA neurosurgeon. This experience was extremely helpful for my future career. It was a great experience to develop problem-solving skills, understand physician feedback, and become familiar with the medical device development process. Dr. Park and Dr. Jonathan Rosen [director of BME’s Master of Engineering degree program] were especially helpful as advisors on this project.

What’s next for you?

I will be starting a full-time job as a product development engineer at Cerillo. Cerillo is a Charlottesville start-up company that makes microplate readers, and I'm very excited to join!

What positive impact do you hope to make in the future? Is there a big societal challenge you’d like to help solve?

As I've gone through my undergraduate and graduate career, I have seen many issues with medical devices and their design. Because of this, I have become a big proponent of designing with empathy and for equity. Understanding product users, bias in a product, bias in use of a product, and how a product is used are incredibly important tools, and I plan on using them all to ensure that anything I work on designing can be used equally by or on people of different races, genders, and with varying disabilities.

How has UVA Engineering prepared you for your future, for following your dreams or personal mission?

UVA Engineering has taught me how to learn and how to problem solve, which are two vital engineering skills. In terms of my personal mission, I have gotten a strong education in designing with empathy, and I plan to use those skills to help tackle design challenges.

What advice would you give to engineering students who are just starting out?

Try as many new things as you can! I feel as though college students in general tend to put a lot of pressure on themselves, and I would advise new students to relax and try to find what they're passionate about. Additionally, some of the best advice I've received is that you are in charge of your career, so take the time to figure out what it is you want to do and talk to professors and other students about how you can get there. UVA has a great network that is definitely worth tapping into!

Class of 2022 Graduate Sydney DeCleene

Sydney DeCleene has earned Bachelor of Science and Master of Engineering degrees in biomedical engineering.