GCMI hosts the fifth cohort of Project Engages

Last year, we wrote about the amazing work Georgia Tech Professor Emeritus Dr. Robert Nerem and others are doing with students in six inner-city Atlanta high schools. This year, GCMI had the opportunity to host the fifth Project Engages cohort for an introduction to the medical product design, development and preclinical teams of GCMI, which gave the students an opportunity to have one on one discussions about bioscience career paths. The activities were hosted at our T3 Labs (Translational Testing and Training Laboratories) and D2 (Design and Development) facilities. Our staff interacted with the students by setting up stations and giving hands-on demonstrations, which included learning to perform simple sutures, understanding 3D printing, and watching the preparation for a preclinical testing procedure.

When speaking with students who hail from underserved communities interested in life sciences, you always learn something,” says Dr. Nerem, co-founder of Project ENGAGES. “The only role model they have had in the medical space is their personal physician. But there are many, many other ways to be involved in the biomedical industry. That is why Project ENGAGES was born.” GCMI’s mission is to accelerate the development, testing, training and commercialization of innovative medical products, and by supporting programs like these, we hope to contribute to the medtech ecosystem.

As the majority of the current cohort prepares to graduate, we asked Project Engages Program Manager Lakeita Servance how they’re doing. What she told us is amazing.

  • 15 students are graduating in May.
  • 15 students are going to college this fall.
  • 10 have been accepted at Georgia Tech, 4 of which are either valedictorians or salutatorians and will receive full tuition scholarships.
  • 1 has been accepted to Notre Dame on full scholarship (zero out of pocket expense).
  • 2 have been accepted to the University of Pennsylvania; one on a full scholarship (zero out of pocket expense).
  • 1 has been accepted to New York University.
  • 1 has been accepted to Vanderbilt University.

We asked Ms. Servance what these remarkable students tell her about the program.

“‘I didn’t know I could be great at research.’ I hear that often,” she says. “Many also say they would not have been able to make it if it was not for Project Engages preparing them academically and socially through exposure to college campus life, which makes them feel comfortable in a large, challenging university setting.”

What do you feel are Project Engages’ most valuable elements and results?

“We give them an opportunity to step out of their comfort zone and a chance to achieve something they may not have believed possible. This program also gives them the confidence and mentor support needed to empower their belief in themselves. By the end of their experience, they believe they can be whatever they want to be, even in the most challenging academic and career paths such as medical and scientific research or engineering.”

What’s next for Project Engages?

“We just completed interviews for our next cohort. They have not yet been notified, but I believe they will be a magnificent group. The program is transitioning to a 2 year model where students will enter as rising juniors. This will create a richer experience for both students and mentors. We are seeking to accept 16 or 17 new students from at least five of the partner schools. 11 students currently participating will continue in the program giving us a total of 27 or 28 for the 2018-19 academic year.”

How can the medtech ecosystem support Project Engages?

“We provide financial assistance for our students by paying them to participate in this research experience. Direct monetary contributions are always welcomed. But there are many other ways to contribute. Industry can support Project Engages by allowing us to come tour their facilities. This helps our students more clearly envision their possible career path. And if someone is interested in speaking with our students, we would welcome that as well. Students attend monthly professional development sessions frequently led by industry leaders in various stages of STEM careers. Professionals sharing their journey, challenges and what has helped them overcome those is of high value to these students and an easy way for industry to engage with them.”

If you are interested in learning more about Project Engages, contact Ms. Lakeita Servance via email: lakeita.servance@ibb.gatech.edu.

If you are interested in learning more about GCMI’s educational programs for students who might be interested in medical product design, development, testing and more, contact GCMI Training and Education at https://gcmiatl.com/bioskills-training/ or email us at info@t3labs.org or info@devices.net