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Brandon Lou

Brandon Lou, BS '22

How did you become interested in engineering? Tell us about the pathways that lead you to UW MSE.

In high school, there was a materials laboratory course offered my senior year that I took. This class introduced me to various surface-level aspects of materials science and engineering including making concrete, casting aluminum molds, and even how different metals create different flame colors due to the movement of electrons! This course gave me just enough materials exposure to motivate me to pursue MSE as a career.

My brother-in-law, grandmother and grandfather were engineers, and their careers were very interesting to learn about. Additionally, my sisters both attended the University of Washington for their undergraduate degrees. My amazing family served as role models in many ways, and here they inspired me to pursue an engineering education at the University of Washington!

Could you share an interesting internship or research lab experience you had?

I have been a part of Professor Roumeli’s astounding research group since Spring of 2021, and there have been lots of interesting moments that have helped me grow as a researcher, as a student, and as an engineer. Currently, for my master’s project, I am doing work that involves 3D printing, rubber casting, cellulose-fiber reinforced composite fabrication, and subsequent mechanical testing. This process is new in many aspects for myself, so it has been a great opportunity for me to learn new skills!

What did you enjoy most about your time with UW MSE?

It goes without saying that the academic experience with UW MSE was phenomenal. Even throughout the online learning during the pandemic restricting in-person learning, it was very clear that many professors were eager to find the most effective way to teach students. I am very impressed and very grateful for how passionate the staff and faculty in this department are for ensuring great experiences.

The aspect I enjoyed the most in this department, though, is without a doubt the sense of community within this department. While UW MSE is growing, the people are very friendly, encouraging, and exemplar. Professors, advisors, staff, and students are all very personable here, and I am very pleased that I can go into a classroom and be able to converse with almost anyone. Beyond the social aspect, these people all foster the most ideal environment for effective learning as well as both academic and professional growth. Without the connections I have made through UW MSE, I would not be the student, or person, that I am now.

What are you doing now, and how are you putting your MSE degree to use?

I am pursuing my master’s degree in the UW MSE program where I will continue my research in Professor Roumeli’s research group. Here I am utilizing many different skills that I acquired during my undergraduate degree. I am also working at the department as an assistant for Dr. Hanson Fong, with the intention to serve as a Teaching Assistant for the undergraduate laboratory series.

In another aspect, I am also working on a medical device startup through Engineering Innovations in Health (EIH). This startup aims to address the leakage of intestinal content from gastrointestinal (GI) anastomoses. I work on a team consisting of myself, another MSE graduate, a chemical engineer, and two mechanical engineers. Our team is also partnered with a surgeon at UW Medical Center, and we receive business feedback from two advisors in the startup space. In March our startup filed a provisional patent for our device, and we have since accumulated over $75,000 in funding. I provide various input on materials selection, processing methods, and mechanical testing.

What advice do you have for prospective students?

There are two pieces of advice I would give to prospective students. The first piece of advice is if you do not know what your passions are, start with exploring not only what piques your interest, but to also push the envelope and explore other things beyond just your interests; you never know what hidden passions you may find!

Secondly, I would encourage all prospective students for any major to have no fear in reaching out to professors. As I mentioned, the professors here are so helpful and always very nice. If you find a research topic that interests you, then reaching out to that professor to learn more or to see how you could be a part of that research goes a long way. From a professional standpoint, sending out these emails also made me more comfortable with sending formal emails and contacting professionals!