Alpha Eta Mu Beta, National Biomedical Engineering Honor Society

You can be an AEMB MINDS Scholar

What is the MINDS Scholar Program? How do I apply?

The AEMB Mentoring for INnovative Design Solutions (MINDS) Scholar Program is an innovative approach that provides students with the opportunity to collaborate and network with peers and mentors across the country, while building necessary engineering design skills, including 3 key considerations that are not usually stressed in coursework projects. The 3 key considerations are (1) market considerations for commercialization (unmet need, size of market, reimbursement potential, etc.), (2) regulatory strategy, and (3) evaluating prospects for intellectual property protection. MINDS Scholars enhance their knowledge of product design, and learn how to effectively communicate with teammates and mentors who are from other schools and organizations using collaborative online tools, which are becoming an increasingly important skill in today’s work environment. Participation in the MINDS Scholar Program is through a competitive application process that takes place annually July- September (click here for application). Students need not be AEMB members to participate. Ideally, you should apply when you are a sophomore or a junior so that you get the most out of the program.

How does the MINDS Scholar Program work if I am selected to participate? What will I have to do?

Each annual MINDS Scholar Program starts with a 2-hour workshop at the BMES conference, where students meet their groups and mentors, and create an action plan for their participation in the program with a central design idea. Each group will be composed of approximately 3-4 students and one primary mentor. AEMB provides travel reimbursements to all MINDS scholars to attend the initial workshop (up to $700), funded by the National Science Foundation. After the initial in-person meeting, teams and mentors continue to communicate and work together remotely over the span of five months, refining their idea and acquiring new knowledge about key design considerations. Scholars will have access to hand-picked subject matter mentors with specialized knowledge in areas such as market evaluation, patenting devices, protecting intellectual property, determining regulatory requirements, preclinical trial design, and establishing quality controls. AEMB will support Scholars during the program with additional online resources on the five design considerations, as well as sharing potential outside opportunities including design contests, investment opportunities and grant programs. At the end of the program, each team will have a refined product design (virtual or real), and will create a written or video promotion for their product.

What are the benefits of participating in the MINDS Scholar Program?

As a MINDS Scholar, you will be able to network with peers and experts, and learn valuable engineering design skills and teamwork abilities that are attractive to future employers. AEMB will provide a $700 travel reimbursement for MINDS Scholars to attend the initial workshop and the live session on regulatory strategy and intellectual property. (See application for dates and location of Workshop and Special Session.) At the end of the MINDS Scholar Program, you will receive an official certificate of completion, and your name will be added to our MINDS Scholar list on the AEMB webpage. And who knows, maybe you will end up sharing your promotion materials with potential investors and marketing your product!! Additionally, if you are interested in giving back, you will be able to participate in future MINDS program activities by mentoring new Scholars.

What did past Scholars get out of this program?

You can read more about past MINDS Scholars, mentors, and their projects at our MINDS Scholars Recognition Page. In previous cohorts of the MINDS Scholar program, team members communicated with industry experts and entrepreneurs from start-up companies, technology transfer offices, and established medical device companies. These MINDS Scholars indicated that they gained experience working with different universities and using different collaboration and communication tools. They also felt they acquired important insight into the value of intellectual property management and its challenges, FDA & ethics approval and market considerations, and their understanding of the thought process from invention to market.  A majority of students in past cohorts agreed or highly agreed that the MINDS program had improved their ability to be part of collaborative projects between institutions and provided them with tools to collaborate more successfully, as well as improved their teamwork skills. Many also indicated that it had impacted their career goals, making them more likely to engage in careers that involved actual product development and entrepreneurship. Scholars reported being more aware of practical barriers in design, and how to handle collaborative projects. Here are some sample comments from past MINDS Scholars:

“All of the talks we were a part of can be devolved into three questions every engineer should ask themselves before they make a commitment to a product’s development: Can it be done? Can it be sold? Can it get approval? If any of these questions give you pause you should assess your current position and rethink the path you will take. This program has given me enough tools to plan on attacking these questions before I ask them.”

“The MINDS program has been an amazing experience. The new experiences and lessons learned outside the classroom setting have included how to work with someone across a state line, learning how to match up each other schedules, and hearing professionals talk about the importance of the design process in their jobs and career paths. Particularly insightful was hearing how the professionals come up with ideas and brainstorm.”

“I enjoyed the freedom associated with the project and the knowledge I was able to gain by doing research on my own. If I was not involved in this project, I would have not pushed myself to read as many scientific papers or explore the development process as in depth as I did. Further, I was able to apply concepts from my current classes to our project and thus was able to practice out-of-class applications, solidifying my knowledge of material I needed for courses integral to my major.”

“I enjoyed the aspect of having a mentor and the whole concept of working remotely. I think it is important we had someone to discuss our ideas with, as well as it has the potential to create a meaningful and lasting relationship. Also, the strictly online meetings were good exposure and experience to working remotely with a team on technical projects.”

“I'd like to thank the committee members and coordinators of the program for providing me the opportunity to meet and work with people from all across the country. It has widened my perspective and given me insight on the challenges I have to overcome in order to become a better engineer.”

Are you the next MINDS Scholar? We sure hope so and we hope to review your application soon!


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