Five students standing in front of the Earl E. Bakken signage.

Learning, growing, and finding her place in CSE

CSE student helps college DEI efforts, while building engineering skills

February 25, 2022

Sadhika Prabhu came to the University of Minnesota knowing she wanted to help people and gain hands-on experience in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

“My STEM influence came from both my parents and from living in a state that is such a medical device hub,” said Prabhu, a junior majoring in biomedical engineering who grew up about 30 minutes from the Twin Cities campus in Maple Grove. “My dad is a software engineer with a hobby for home projects and always made sure to get my younger siblings and I involved. My mom went to medical school and is my number one person to go to when I need to talk out a concept I am learning about.”

Prabhu’s chosen academic major in the U of M’s College of Science and Engineering (CSE) is “a perfect combination of both of their passions,” she added. It has also brought back memories of when she first learned about Earl E. Bakken’s accomplishments and the museum dedicated to him.

“I remember during a career day in fourth grade when one of my classmate’s parents who worked at Medtronic was talking to us about stents and about Earl Bakken, the founder of the company,” she recalled.

“He told us there was a museum dedicated to Bakken, Prabhu noted, and I immediately went home and asked my parents to go.”

That visit to the museum founded in 1975 near Bde Maka Ska, the largest lake in Minneapolis, was among her first steps toward her current career path. Prabhu’s most recent—and most significant—step to becoming a biomedical engineer came this past summer when she landed an internship with the U of M’s Earl E. Bakken Medical Devices Center.

It’s a super cool space, and I was on a project with other CSE students to reduce noise disturbance for infants who are in the neo-intensive care unit,” she said. “I worked as a segmentation specialist, taking MRI and CT scans, and converting them into 3D models that can be printed out or put into virtual reality for doctors to use or for medical students to practice with.” 

She’s done segmentation projects on a variety of anatomy. Most recently, Prabhu—who received the University of Minnesota Presidential Scholarship—assisted in making a model for a central venous catheter and a prostate model for a medical device company. 

In addition to gaining more technical skills, Prabhu is honing her ability to lead, mentor, and facilitate large group conversations. She’s an active member of Engineers Without Borders, Rooted in Stem, and the CSE Diversity & Inclusivity (D&I) Alliance Student Action Committee.

I’m finding my space in CSE,” she said. “I’m very excited to be connected with student groups that support me, like the Indian Student Association and the Society of Asian Scientist and Engineers.

In freshman year, I had the original intent of being more involved in a multicultural club or efforts to create inclusivity, but I just wasn’t aware of them,” Prabhu added. What’s really nice now is I get to be a part of those efforts to create the inclusivity and diversity I was looking for—and also to bring more awareness to these groups so other students can find them. It’s never too late to find those opportunities or start those groups.”

Learn more about her efforts to champion D&I issues in Sadhika Prabhu’s CSE video

Story by Pauline Oo

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