"Biomedical engineering has allowed me to live a full life with the use of both my legs. I want to help somebody else who may be in a similar situation."

Erica Gaugler

"I live every day with a marvel of modern medicine as part of me. At age 12, I was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, and a bone tumor destroyed my hip and pelvis. Part of my treatment was reconstructive surgery, where I received a prosthetic device that enables me to walk. I vividly remember the first time I saw the post-op x-rays; I thought my new parts looked like something from a kid's erector set. From that point forward, the fusion of medicine and technology has fascinated me.

"When it came time to apply to college, I knew that my future lay in biomedical engineering. After I visited Bucknell, met department heads and explored Lewisburg, I realized that Bucknell was a place I could see myself living and thriving. I was thrilled and empowered when I was offered the Clare Boothe Luce Scholarship for Women in Science and Engineering [now called the B-WISE scholarship]. It was this unique combination of factors that led me to decide Bucknell was right for me.

"The professors are so inspiring, stemming from their passion for their own research. My courses so far encompass both theoretical research and applied mechanics. We always have a section where we need to connect our findings to the real biomedical engineering world. This is exciting for me because I look at my own prosthetic hip and ask, 'How can I take what I just learned and apply it to myself to make a better hip, one free from its current limitations?' Thinking this way allows me to stretch beyond the confines of just wanting to get an A in a course, to actually applying the course's content to the real world. After all, that is what really matters.

"My ultimate goal is to get involved with limb salvation and designing prosthetic devices and robotic limbs. Biomedical engineering has allowed me to live a full life with the use of both my legs. I want to help somebody else who may be in a similar situation. My goal will be accomplished when my orthopedic surgeon can call me up, describe his new patient's situation and say, 'Erica, what can you design for me?'"

Erica is from Columbia, N.J.

Posted December 2012



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