This interview is part of the City of Philadelphia’s Most Diverse Tech Hub initiative. Campus Philly is featuring the “Philly stories” of Black and Brown tech founders, entrepreneurs, and young professionals who are making an impact in the region, demonstrating why the Philadelphia region IS the most diverse tech hub.
William Tukes is a bioengineering student at Temple University, who will graduate in just a few months at the end of the fall ’22 semester. He is part of the Campus Philly Street Team, connecting with students on campus and at Campus Philly events throughout the summer and fall, and previously interned at NMS Labs as a Quality Assurance Intern. William was born and raised in North Philadelphia.
What’s your connection to the Philadelphia region?
I’m a Philly native through and through. I was born and raised in North Philadelphia and my parents are from North Philadelphia, as well.
I realized this was the career for me during my freshman year of college. I was convinced by a friend’s uncle to become a bioengineer. I actually started off as a Biology major and I wanted to work in the medical field, but my friend’s uncle explained that being a bioengineer would give me a leg up, and that this concentration would open up other doors in case I chose not to stay in the medical field.
What’s the most interesting project you’ve worked on in bioengineering, so far?
The most important bioengineering project that I have worked on so far would be my senior design project. It’s a study on motion, gait and the equilibrium of rodents. I am a part of a group that is making a dynamic perturbation system that would hinder how rodents run to collect data on their recovery of their equilibrium.
The field of bioengineering is vast. Do you have a specific area you’re interested in focusing in when you graduate?
The area of study that I am most interested in is gait and movement. This area of study is a direct correlation since I want to create prosthetics and medical devices. I would say that I enjoy learning the uniqueness of all bodies and how they move, but I also want to help people live healthier lives so they don’t get injured as much. In cases where there are substantial injuries, I would love to be able to give the person back something that they may have lost or help recover faster from injuries.
You’re graduating in just a few months. What’s one Philadelphia-based company you’d love to work for after graduating, and why?
I would love to work for Spark Therapeutics! I’ve seen nothing but good things come from the company. They are fairly new as well, so I would want to be someone that helps take the company to new heights.
Let’s talk about the importance of internships. How have your internships helped you gain professional experience, and what was a favorite internship that you’ve had?
The internships I’ve had gave me perspective on how the real work world works and have shown me things that they don’t teach in the classroom. Internships also helped me in my communication with others, whether it was in-person, through email, video call, or a phone call. They also gave me real experience with deadlines and projects that would need to be presented to managers, but also my peers as well. Lastly, my internships have sharpened my problem solving skills. There are so many variables that have to be taken into account and at any point something can go wrong that could derail everything.
If you were to go back in time to your first year of college, and tell yourself ONE piece of advice, what would it be?
You might not get the desired outcome in most of what you do, but do not let that deter you from your goal.
If you were to offer ONE piece of advice to other college students interested in majoring in bioengineering, what would it be?
Don’t dwell on your mistakes too much. Life goes on.