Ti' Air Riggins

Year: 2nd Year PhD Student

Major: Biomedical Engineering

Hometown: Akron, Ohio

What program(s) are you involved in? SEW, PREFACE, MITE, and ABC.

Tell me a little bit about this program? These programs are aimed at exposing underrepresented students to engineering for the 6th-10th  graders. While the MITE program is aimed at preparing students for freshmen engineering courses and the college experience of freshmen engineers, ABC prepares students by allowing them to take courses similar to their freshmen courses and get involved with various engineering classes before they start their freshmen year, to give them a leg up on their courses in the fall.

What do you do for this program? I am usually a program assistant, so I help facilitate programs, manage classrooms, and help the students when they need it.

What is your favorite part of the program? My favorite part is watching the students build, compete, and work with hands-on activities. It’s quite amazing to see the growth in a student in such a short amount of time.

Why did you get involved in this program? I worked during the school year as a graduate assistant for MEP and was asked to help out with the summer engineering camps. My background working with students previously has been rewarding, and I was eager for the experience this summer.

How has this program affected you as an engineering student? I was able to use the resources MEP offered throughout my collegiate career. I also had other students, faculty, and deans I was able to confide in when needed.

Would you recommend this program to incoming students? College is a tough time when people learn much more about themselves and their surroundings than they think. It’s a good idea to have a solid support system in all aspects of college life. Academically, MEP is a good support system, so yes, I would.

Do you have any advice for incoming minority engineering students? Plenty! Discover how you learn. Don’t wait until the last minute to do homework. Quickly review lecture topics right after class everyday. Find people in your discipline to work with as well as professional and social mentors.  Organize your schedule and balance your life. Allow personal time for yourself that doesn’t involve school. Ask for help when needed.

Did you participate in a similar program when you were younger, and if so, how did it benefit you? Yes, I participated in the Project Lead The Way curriculum at my high school and also attended a few engineering based summer camps as a teenager. Because of this exposure to STEM early on, I knew a lot about each discipline, what it took to prepare to be an engineer, and what discipline I wanted to go into before college.

How has MEP or this program benefited you academically and professionally? I have been able to use the resources provided to students to improve my study skills, professional skills, as well as network and find similar students on campus to study with in classes.

What other organizations are you involved in on campus? National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), Biomedical Engineering Graduate Student Association (BMEGSA), Purdue Social Justice Coalition (PSJC), and the organization I have founded Students Against Rape and Violence (SARA V).

What elements of this program do you wish were available to you when you were that age? More readily available information about scholarships I qualified for and the ability to go to conferences as a teen.

How has MEP supported you throughout your time on campus? I have been involved in MEP programming since I started undergrad two institutions ago, and I have used various sources like test banks, networking events, outreach, and professional development workshops. My support through MEP has allowed me to matriculate through each of my degree programs.

So what do you plan to do professionally? I would love to start my own medical device start up, based off of my thesis work, while serving as a mentor for underrepresented students in STEM.

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