Inspired by family to pursue biomedical engineering

David Bruk-Rodriguez

David Bruk-Rodriguez, Undergraduate Senior

Hometown: Brooklyn, New York
BME Degree Program: B.S. in biomedical engineering '23, concentrating in biomechanics and mechanobiology (BMMB) 
Lab affiliation: Cornell Organic Robo3cs Laboratory, Prof. Robert Shepherd
Awards/Honors: Blackstone LaunchPad Big Ideas Competition: Second Place in Healthcare Track

David Bruk-Rodriguez on the ice at Cornell's Lynah Rink
On the ice at Cornell's Lynah Rink for the Meinig School's year-end community celebration.

Why Cornell?

In Cornell I found not only an excellent BME program with excellent faculty, but also a variety of incredibly talented researchers in all sorts of fields. Being able to take courses in a myriad of fields with strong faculty behind them is an opportunity that is hard to find at other universities. On top of that, I wanted to experience life outside of New York City and Cornell’s beautiful campus was the perfect place to do that.

Why BME?

I was fascinated with the field of bionics and prosthetics and the integration of technology in the human body. This interest stemmed from my younger sister, who was born partially blind due to a disconnected retina, and my desire to someday be able to contribute to bringing her full vision back. After doing some research, I realized that the biomedical engineering major would provide the skills and knowledge needed to see my ideas come to fruition.

I chose to concentrate in biomechanics and mechanobiology (BMMB)  because of its focus on large-scale biomechanics and the systems that drive human mechanical function. I felt that this concentration would provide a deeper dive into some of the biomechanics concepts I had already learned. On top of that, I heard great things about BMMB courses and the hands-on experience gained through them, such as Dr. Bonassar’s biomechanics laboratory.

What have you learned while pursuing this major?

Pursuing BME has taught me the importance of staying the course, and continuing to strive toward your goal even when you think you have failed. There have been countless moments in these past four years where I have been discouraged, and questioned my abilities as a student. I soon realized—especially with help and insight from my peers—that the times I thought were failures were not that at all. Instead, those moments were the stepping stones for my success, stories I can tell others to put them on the right path, and highlights of my past that show my growth.

Any advice for students considering BME?

Firstly, take advantage of the networking/club opportunities within the major and elsewhere as soon as possible, so you can start building a strong set of connections for future opportunities. You can learn so much from your peers in the major!

Secondly, don’t limit your coursework to only BME! Having the opportunity to take classes in areas that you are passionate about is something you need to take as much advantage of as possible. You only get to go here once so make the most of the years ahead!

David Bruk-Rodriguez with alpaca friend.
David Bruk-Rodriguez with alpaca friend on a beautiful day at Cabin View Alpacas, Trumansburg.

Any interests outside of or in relationship to your scholarship?

I have been a part of Cornell DEBUT, Cornell’s premier biomedical engineering project team, since the winter of 2020 and it has been a great part of my time here. Being able to go through the entire process of product development, from concept generation all the way to final prototype fabrication for multiple product cycles is always exciting and challenging and I love being able to contribute creative ideas to the team.

I have also been a part of Cornell Club Judo/ Jiu Jitsu since my freshman year and I’ve fallen in love with both sports. It’s an incredible stress reliever after a long day of classes and problem sets, and it’s a lot of fun to be able to both learn and practice new skills every session.

What stands out to you about your Cornell BME experience?

I feel that the BME major truly creates a family among its classes, and I have felt that deeply during my senior year classes. The improv session during BME 4090 was hilarious and it was great to see a lot of people in class come out of their shell a little bit. My favorite activity so far was the end of year ice skating event in Lynah Rink; it was an absolute blast hanging out with everybody on the ice and the food was great!

What’s next for you?

After graduating, I'm continuing with a master’s in mechanical engineering from the Sibley School at Cornell and then pursuing a career in product design or entrepreneurship. This was heavily inspired by my research lab’s PI, Dr. Robert Shepherd, whose product design courses showed me that it was possible to build a profitable hardware-focused business using engineering principles.

Favorite quote that helps inspire you in your work/life?

“Never let the future disturb you. You will meet it, if you have to, with the same weapons of reason which today arm you against the present.” - Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

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