Melina Ciccerone (4th Quarter, 2005)

by Josh Barsch on August 20, 2010

4th Quarter, 2005
Engineering Scholarship Winner
Melina Ciccerone

She currently attends Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, VA, and plans to receive a bachelor’s degree in Engineering Science and Mechanics with a concentration in Biomechanics. “Afterwards, I will participate in the Virginia Tech and Wake Forest School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences to receive my master’s degree. After finishing my education, I plan to pursue a career as an orthopedic bioengineer and be on a research team to develop artificial biomaterials. In my spare time, I enjoy playing soccer and basketball with my friends, doing community service through Circle K International, listening to music, and being involved with my church on campus, New Life Campus Fellowship.”

A Portion of Melina’s Winning Essay:

Melina Ciccerone

My friends call me accident prone, but I like to think that I simply have interesting life experiences and maybe some challenging luck. I’ve sprained ankles, dislocated knees, broken a wrist, had a concussion and broken multiple fingers. Besides sports related injuries, I’ve recently had a serious case of pneumonia, mononucleosis and had collapsed lungs. With the help of wonderful doctors and highly advanced medical technology, my wounds have healed. I’m very fascinated at how well the doctors used the medical equipment to improve my health.

During my junior year of high school, I took a health class that included a unit on how the body handled food and exercise. My friend had been recently diagnosed with anorexia so I paid special attention to that part of the course. I was amazed to discover the immense impact exercising had on the body and, in addition, how bad habits caused diseases such as anorexia, diabetes, heart failure and so on. There was so much interesting information that I learned that could help so many people if only they, too, had this knowledge. I had a sudden desire to improve the health and well being of people.

Throughout high school, I excelled in math courses as well as biology and physics courses. I did much research on possible careers that combined both my academic talents and interest in medical technology. I then came across biomedical engineering, a profession involving research in the advancement of medical technology. Biomedical engineers can do anything from designing and developing medical devices such as artificial hips or pacemakers to analyzing the laser systems used in corrective eye surgery. Biomedical engineers even test to ensure the ongoing safety of equipment used for diagnosis, treatment and monitoring of patients.


I currently attend the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University as an engineering student. I plan to major in Engineering Science and Mechanics with a concentration in Biomechanics. My goal is to graduate with an M.S. in Biomedical Engineering through Virginia Tech’s 5-year Masters Program. While studying, I also intend to intern for a research company. This way I will already have experience upon graduation and may be able to secure a job with a company with the same concentration.

When I’ve completed my studies, I plan to pursue a career as an orthopedic bioengineer. I am confident that I will easily be able to receive a position doing exactly what I choose upon graduation because of the extremely high job growth in biomedical engineering. While working in a research facility or possibly a manufacturing company, I hope to be able to analyze the friction, lubrication and wear characteristics of natural and artificial joints. I then plan to be on a design team to develop artificial biomaterials for the replacement of bones, cartilage, ligaments, tendons, meniscus and intervertebral discs.

In a recent U.S. Government class, I learned that one of the 2004 Presidential election’s main issues was about Social Security and the fact that it will possibly be going bankrupt. The main reason for the program becoming insolvent is that the ratio of working citizens to contribute money into Social Security to the number of people who withdraw from it has greatly decreased due to an aging U.S. population. Since the amount of Social Security keeps decreasing while cost of medical insurance continues to grow, people reliant on the program have continually less money to put toward their essential healthcare. As an orthopedic bioengineer, it could be my job to fix this problem. If various medical devices such as synthetic hips and other instruments geared toward those on Social Security can be developed that are efficient and affordable, then the cost of their healthcare would be greatly decreased.

Another way in which orthopedic bioengineers can improve society is through the military. Recent improvements in technology have saved the lives of thousands of soldiers out on the battlefield. Their protective gear, for example, now protects the soldiers’ vital body parts far better than in past years. Though more and more soldiers have a higher survival rate after being attacked, they often loose an arm or leg in the process. The battlefield armor is capable of keeping the person alive but can’t protect their whole body. Because of the improved technology in armor, a vast increase in demand has resulted for prosthetic limbs for men and women in the military. As an orthopedic bioengineer, I will have the qualifications to develop more human-like artificial extremities and lengthen the apparatus’s ability to work efficiently.

Lately, I have found that the website I am always visiting on my computer is webmd.com. Whether my grandmother is having surgery on her knee, my father is taking new medication for his stomach, my brother is fighting a horrible cold, or I just want to find out more about a friend’s recent diagnosis of cancer, it has always been my persona to perform research on the topic and have always been fascinated at what I’ve found. It has also always been in my nature to help people, and I deeply desire to continue this trend in my line of work. Not only will a career as a biomedical engineer, specifically an orthopedic bioengineer, allow me to help people, but I’ll be able to impact the lives of others that have gone through similar “life experiences” and “challenging luck.” If I am able to work on a product that will improve one aspect of someone’s life then I truly want to be a biomedical engineer.

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