BME receives national recognition for encouraging underrepresented groups to pursue STEM careers

August 15, 2022 — A high school internship program from the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Minnesota received the 2022 Inspiring Programs in STEM Award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine, the largest and oldest diversity and inclusion publication in higher education. 

The award honors colleges and universities that encourage and assist students from underrepresented groups to enter the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). 

Students in front of Medtronic sign
Participants in BME’s high school internship program toured Medtronic’s facilities, engaged with simulations, and learned about biomedical devices, research, and development. 

Inspiring STEM careers

BME’s winning internship program offers six-week, paid internships to students from local Twin Cities high schools. This summer’s participants included students from the ​​Washington Tech Magnet School in St. Paul and Heritage STEM Academy in Minneapolis. 

Features of the Summer 2022 program included:

  • Two days of BME laboratory rotations.
  • Four weeks in either the Optiz Lab or the Odde Lab, working alongside graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, and BME faculty to do lab work ​​ranging from computational modeling to cellular bioengineering.
  • Tour of Medtronic’s Moundsview campus featuring a simulation of the Micra pacemaker and visits to 3D printing and cybersecurity labs. 
  • College preparedness activities including a University of Minnesota campus tour, undergraduate admissions, and campus life presentations. 
  • Visits to diverse biomedical laboratories on campus, including the UMN Visible Heart Lab.

Student in a lab
A program participant reaches for a sample tube in her cancer cell migration lab. High school interns were placed in different labs studying areas ranging from cellular and molecular bioengineering to neuromodulation and computational modeling.

“We’re getting high school students excited about pursuing a career in biomedical engineering,” says Gabbi Horsford, who manages the program as BME’s DEI coordinator.

Support from Boston Scientific and Medtronic enabled the department to expand its DEI initiatives and launch the internship program.

National accolades

The Department of Biomedical Engineering will be featured, along with 78 other recipients, in the September 2022 issue of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine. 

Inspiring Programs in STEM Award winners were selected based on efforts to inspire and encourage a new generation of young people to consider careers in STEM through mentoring, teaching, research, and successful programs and initiatives. 

“We know that many STEM programs are not always recognized for their success, dedication, and mentorship for underrepresented students,” says Lenore Pearlstein, owner and publisher of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine. “We want to honor the schools and organizations that have created programs that inspire and encourage young people who may currently be in or are interested in a future career in STEM. We are proud to honor these programs as role models to other institutions of higher education and beyond.”

Student presenting poster
At the end of the internship program, the high school interns had a chance to showcase their research via a poster presentation. They presented their research to friends, family, teachers, and the BME community.