‘A Whole New Mindset’
Quarter at Aggie Square helps BME student deepening passion, understanding and purpose
After only the first lecture on the first day, UC Davis undergraduate Cem Nesiri already knew enrolling in the Quarter at the Aggie Square was the best thing he could have done.
“It literally was the best decision I’ve ever made,” said Nesiri. “In a single day I was able to learn how to conduct research, learn from some of the most successful biomedical engineers in the world, and think about biomedical engineering from a different setting from a different perspective. Quarter at Aggie Square gave me a whole new mindset.”
Quarter at Aggie Square, which is a program within the Office of Undergraduate Education, is an intense, immersive learning experience hosted at UC Davis’ Aggie Square campus in Sacramento. In the program, small cohorts of about 12-25 students learn from dedicated faculty around a themed curriculum that matches their academic interests. The Department of Biomedical Engineering (BME) participated in its first Quarter at Aggie Square in the Fall of 2021.
Nesiri, who was part of the inaugural BME Quarter at Aggie Square cohort, said the aspect of the program he appreciated the most was being given the opportunity to engage in an authentic clinical needs-finding experience.
“Classroom instruction is more theory-based, so Quarter at Aggie Square was the first time where I realized what real biomedical engineering is,” he said. “We were focusing on solving problems, meeting the clinical needs, and it was all application-based. Overall, I’ve learned what my major is.”
The BME Quarter at Aggie Square experience includes three courses that focus on clinical needs in healthcare settings, business principles in the biomedical device sector and quantitative physiology. These courses align with the junior year BME major curriculum and offer students practical exposure to both clinical settings and industry-relevant topics. In the courses students received in-depth instruction in the industry-relevant tools and methods used in the product design and development process. They also learned physiology in the context of clinical arenas that deploy biomedical technology, such as surgical suites, departmental clinics and intensive care units.
Nesiri also appreciated learning from guest lecturers who shared their behind-the-scenes knowledge on aspects of biomedical engineering that pertain to commercialization and industry such as clinical workflow, FDA and device regulation, standards and entrepreneurial mindset in the clinical setting.
“These are all processes that are really complicated, complex, can take decades to get done and are so important for biomedical engineers to understand. But before this class I had no idea how it was done,” Nesiri said. “So learning from someone else’s experience helps you understand how to create something in this world.”
During his internship at Genentech during the summer of 2022, Nesiri realized how much of a head start he had in the position because of the Quarter at Aggie Square.
“It exposed me to many different experiences and ideas in the industry and research and development through the guest lecturers,” he said. “Quarter at Aggie Square prepared me for my future career, enabling me to have a better understanding in the biomedical devices and pharmaceuticals industry.”
Nesiri said because of the Quarter at Aggie Square he is approaching his final year of undergraduate education with a renewed energy for problem-solving and a refined focus to pursue a graduate degree in the future.
“It was the best learning experience I’ve ever had in my life,” he said. “It inspired me to do so much. It helped me with my interviews and helped me create a purpose for why I want to become a biomedical engineer.