Experience abroad confirms career path for Wayne State biomedical engineering student

DETROIT (Jan. 15, 2013) – As a sophomore, Wayne State University student Maha Fakherddine passed on a conventional spring break trip to Cancun or Florida, instead opting to join about two dozen other students in rural areas of Belize to set up screening clinics for diabetes and hypertension.


The trip – the eagerly anticipated finale of a semester-long preparation course – had a substantial and lasting impact on Fakherddine, now a senior biomedical engineering major.

“As a student, you're interested in certain ideas like medicine and engineering but, until you actually partake in them, how can you really know whether or not the path is for you? My trip to Belize confirmed all the aspects I loved about medicine and engineering, and opened my eyes to a lot I hadn't considered,” said the WSU Presidential Scholar.

Coincidentally, a large focus of the trip was on diabetes, and just that semester Fakherddine’s biomedical engineering design team had reverse-engineered a glucose monitor.

“It was amazing to know so much about the design of the device itself and the engineering that allowed medicine to be where it is at today,” she said.

It wasn’t her first time studying abroad. The Dearborn native, who currently serves as an officer of the Engineering Student Faculty Board, Biomedical Engineering Society, Wayne State Student Senate and National Society of Collegiate Scholars, also has studied in France and Spain.

“My first study abroad trip was in high school and, ever since, I've felt passionately that study abroad needs to be a requirement for students throughout the United States. You not only learn about the places you visit and the cultures you encounter, but you also learn so much about yourself.”

Fakherddine is so passionate about the impact of study abroad experiences that she is hoping to help create a study abroad program catered to engineers prior to her expected graduation in May 2014.

“Global and hands-on experiences are crucial to an engineer's success, and having them as students would be priceless and really give WSU students an edge,” she said.

Fortunately for Fakherddine and other College of Engineering students, they have a great advocate in Dean Farshad Fotouhi and in the Wayne State Office of International Programs. Fotouhi’s goal in particular is to give all students the global perspective that will introduce them to global economies and technologies and help prepare them for the workforce.

“A global perspective is one of our pillars to a Wayne State engineering education,” Fotouhi said. “We are focused on increasing opportunities for students globally through our many connections and partnerships.”

Added Ahmad Ezzeddine, associate vice president for international programs and educational outreach, “Maha’s trip to Belize is a shining example of how an international experience can have a significant, long-lasting and remarkably beneficial impact on a student’s experience in higher education – and beyond. We wholeheartedly believe in preparing our students to be globally-minded citizens, and we continue to increase opportunities for them to engage in international experiences whether here on campus or abroad.” 

For Fakherddine, Wayne State’s emphasis on global engagement and its high-quality biomedical engineering program are more than enough to keep her inspired beyond graduation.

“WSU has definitely done a lot for me. I'd like to think that I'm well prepared as a competitive prospect for any job or graduate school that I apply to. In addition, I've met so many people and have a great network base thanks to experiences like study abroad and student organizations,” she said.

Fakherddine, who also is very active in the Detroit community, hopes to use her engineering education and experiences in a health-related field but is open to a wide variety of possibilities.

“Medical school, continuing my engineering education, and beginning a career in a health-related field are all very appealing options. I also like the idea of staying in education. I've had many amazing experiences with the advisors, professors, and deans here at WSU. That makes me think that I'd like to one day play a role in the future of potential students as well.”

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Wayne State University is a premier urban research institution offering 370 academic programs through 13 schools and colleges to nearly 29,000 students. For more information about engineering at Wayne State University, visit engineering.wayne.edu.


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