Student Spotlight: Moira Forberg
Me: How would you evaluate the Harvard engineering programs?
Moira: I think if we’re speaking about liberal arts engineering, there are definitely pros and cons to it. I think it’s really great that it is such a small program because everyone gets to know each other and in my classes I’ll always know at least five to ten people. And, at least for me, there are also smaller classes. Like for the intro to physics class, at other schools there might be 100 to 200 kids in the class but in mine, there were like 20 which is great because you get to know the professor and I’ve had really great experiences in my classes. But things are definitely still developing. I know SEAS [School of Engineering and Applied Math] just broke off from FAS and so sometimes it’s hard to navigate the program and also it gets hard to try to meet all the requirements for engineering and all the requirements for Gen Ed. Making the program a little more structured for undergrads or putting in a little more advising in place I think would definitely benefit the program.
Me: So what advise do you have for students who are trying to “navigate” the engineering program at Harvard?
Moira: I think basically if you know what you want to do, you have to have your heart in it and you have to know which classes you have to take and which classes you want to take. Figure out your schedule at the beginning of every semester and I guess just make sure that you enjoy it and it’s something that you really want to do. Also make sure that you look out for opportunities because there are a lot of them. You can take courses at MIT if you cross-register. If you want to get involved in something outside of classes, you can look for labs with research you’re interested in to join. I think that’s true for every concentration at Harvard. There are always a lot of opportunities that don’t come find you so you have to go find them. So I think if you start doing engineering, think about taking up some projects outside of class, think about joining a lab and start getting a feel for what you really like about engineering and what you might want to do with it after college before you’re a senior and there thinking what am I going to do with this? Why am I doing this right now? So really just explore about a bit. If you really want to concentrate in neurobiology, do it. If you don’t want to, then you know, don’t do it. But just make sure that whatever you choose, at the end of the day, you enjoy what you’re doing.
Me: So just going back to what you said about first concentrating in Neurobiology, are you still interested in biology? Have you ever thought of maybe incorporating neurobiology with mechanical engineering in your career?
Moira: I definitely still see neurobiology as one of my interests. I almost took a class this semester on the neurocontrol of motor and it just didn’t work out with my schedule but it was a class about robots that are based off on biological systems. So they use principles in neurobiology and just biology in general to try to figure out how to program robots to function the way that we would function. For example, one of the projects at the microbiotics lab I worked at was looking at flies. They were looking at real flies and trying to figure out what makes them fly, how to make them stay in the air, and what on their wings can be used to simulate this. There is a lot of mimicking that goes on. Mechanical engineering is really in awe of nature and trying to not even just harness it but also kind of to reflect it in what we create. So I think definitely yes, neurobiology is still an interest. But I also think that it looks to be much different from engineering than it really is and engineering is just one way that we use to look at nature
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