Search
Purdue School of Engineering and Technology

Purdue School of Engineering and Technology

Biomedical engineering student aims to make a difference

November 11, 2014

Katie Wight has enjoyed working in a co-op program for Zimmer, an international company. Here she tests different company hip product lines in a Zimmer laboratory. | PHOTO COURTESY OF KATIE WIGHT

Katie Wight has enjoyed working in a co-op program for Zimmer, an international company. Here she tests different company hip product lines in a Zimmer laboratory. | PHOTO COURTESY OF KATIE WIGHT

by Ric Burrous

Katie Wight loves being part of a team, solving problems and making a difference in people’s lives.

For the Fort Wayne native, IUPUI’s biomedical engineering program has turned out to be a great fit, the first step in a career that already has helped Wight fulfill one of her primary goals: “to make a difference in patients’ lives.

Wight, on track to graduate in May of 2016 with a bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering, has made a habit of meeting and surpassing expectations. It’s been true of her role as an Adam W. Herbert Presidential Scholar and as a member of IUPUI’s Honors College. It’s been true of her international ties, whether for a study-abroad program in Thailand or an upcoming one in China. And it is true of her role in on a virtual international research team focused on care for human hips for Zimmer, a northern Indiana company and worldwide leader in musculoskeletal health care.

Studying abroad has “shaped me both personally and professionally,” Wight said. “I have gained so much insight and have a more open view and appreciation of the world. It inspired me to keep learning about new cultures and meeting new people.”

It also taught her how important it can be to help people cope with life’s challenges, something that biomedical engineers do with each device they create or improve.

“I’ve learned that the products I work on not only make a difference in the quality of life of the people who use the products, but also their friends and families,” Wight said. That applies to the co-op work she has done with Zimmer’s team that linked the company’s site in Warsaw, Ind., to Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

Katie Wight abroad

Wight is used to climbing higher to achieve her goals, including this rock feature in Thailand. | PHOTO COURTESY OF KATIE WIGHT

“I never got to travel to either place, but it was really cool to see how diverse viewpoints came together to make a project successful,” she said.

“Before this experience, I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do after graduation,” Wight added. She was considering medical or graduate schools, “but my co-op opportunity helped me to figure out what I do like (in engineering), what I don’t, and to learn about new possibilities I didn’t even know existed!”

Wight is no stranger to successful projects; as president of IUPUI’s Student Organization for Alumni Relations, Wight has had the opportunity to refine her skills in teamwork, networking, organization and leadership.

Those skills and other attributes she has developed may lead her to pursue an MBA, which would help her explore her professional passions. “I could definitely see myself eventually going down a business-marketing path within a biomedical device company,” Wight said.

But other possibilities, the Peace Corps, for example, have an appeal, too. But Wight believes that the variety of work offered by biomedical companies, which experience in fields such as quality control, operations and manufacturing, fit her career dreams.

“I’d like to find a program that allows you and your supervisors to decide where your niche is, and how best to use your strengths,” she said.