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Participation Pays Off

Graduate Student Appreciation Week, held April 4 through April 8, yielded an attendance rate of over 700 students for 26 events that included workshops, alumni lunches, and lectures. For the first time, a raffle was held, with an opportunity to enter at every event. Prizes included Conference Travel Awards, money for research supplies, jump drives, and other items, such as Graduate School t-shirts. For biomedical engineering graduate student Esther Lee, participating in Graduate Student Appreciation Week landed her a Conference Travel Award. Esther attended one of the “Alumni Lunches” series, where engineering alumni talked with students about how they had used their graduate school education as a springboard for their career paths over lunch at the Faculty Commons. She entered the raffle there, and was later selected as one of four winners for a Conference Travel Award. Esther has made good use of the award, which partially funded her attendance at two conferences, as she explains:

“My group from the BME 260 course (Fall 2010, Dr. Larry Bohs) had submitted our project to the Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America (RESNA) Student Design Competition and the NISH AbilityOne Design Challenge. The award helped cover some of my costs from the resulting two conferences my design group attended (most costs were sponsored by the organizations, but there were some other costs not covered).

“Our design group was a finalist in the RESNA Student Design Competition. From June 4-8, we were at the RESNA conference in Toronto, Canada, where we competed with the other teams and advanced from semi-finalist stage to finalist. We later gave a podium presentation in front of a general RESNA audience and also participated in a poster session as part of the Developer’s Forum.

“Our group also won 2nd place in NISH’s AbilityOne Design Challenge. We went to the Grassroots Advocacy Conference from June 21-23 in Washington, D.C. We had a poster session and received our awards at a reception on Capitol Hill. ”

“The conference travel raffle award, in part, enabled me to enjoy these two conferences. I was able to learn more about rehabilitation engineering, meet other individuals in that field and see what innovative/barrier-breaking projects they were undertaking to better the lives of those with disabilities.”

The Graduate School plans to increase the raffle for the upcoming year’s Graduate Student Appreciation Week, which is planned for March 26 through March 30, 2012. According to Sr. Associate Dean Jacqueline Looney, “The raffle added another element to a week where we try to give back something of value to our graduate students, who are such an integral part of everything we do as a university. That the idea came from a graduate student, and was such a success, makes it even better. We encourage our students to come to us with ideas that will help us help them.”

For more information on Conference Travel awards, visit .