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Cliff Notes
   

A continent apart

Continent

 
     

We know what you did last summer! Or at least we know what two groups of enterprising students did. Venturing far beyond La Jolla’s sunny shores they found themselves at opposite ends of the continent. A group of actors ended up under the big skies of Anchorage, Alaska, while a bunch of bioengineers landed in bustling Boston, all of them applying their education far from the classroom.

After performing Kenneth Lonergan’s play This is Our Youth on campus in the spring, theater graduate students Brian Slaten, Brad Fleischer and Carmen Gill were ready for more. Stage Left Productions in Anchorage offered to sponsor their trip to perform for Alaskan audiences. The production was a success, prompting the Anchorage Daily News critic to hail “a level of acting I wish we could enjoy more often in this town.” Following that run, they stayed on to perform in a modern adaptation of Othello. Fellow student Geno Monteiro joined them to take the title role.

The four of them then traveled to the Edward Albee Valdez Theater Conference in Valdez, where they had the opportunity to perform in new-play workshops with professionals such as Laura Linney and Chris Noth.

“ The Valdez experience was great,” Gill says. “It was exciting for all of us to be acting in a non-academic environment.”

Meanwhile, across the country in Boston, a company called Abiomed was handing out its own rave reviews to a group of visitors from the Jacobs School of Engineering. Abiomed creates sophisticated products for people in various stages of heart failure. Bioengineering students Jay Joseph, Jason Tongbai and Terrance Pong, and computer engineering student Andrew Nguyen completed a 10-week summer internship, working to improve the functionality of the
external “smart” battery that powers AbioCor, the world’s first fully implantable replacement heart.

According to Joseph, the team’s appointed leader, the AbioCor project provided the hands-on experience and responsibility that his previous internships lacked. “It merged electrical, mechanical, computer and bioengineering, exposing us to a number of skills outside of our majors—even things as simple as soldering. We saw firsthand how these different aspects of engineering are tied together in a real-world setting.”

One thing that particularly impressed Joseph was the genuine kindness of the staff. “They made us feel so welcome and treated us like
regular employees.”

Apparently the good feelings are reciprocal. “They performed with excellence and exceeded their original team goal on time,” says Dr. David Lederman, Abiomed’s CEO. “We hope that some of them will choose to come back to Abiomed after graduation.”

“It was exciting for all of us to be acting in a non-academic environment.”