Thursday, June 27, 2019
IDEA Scholar: Ricardo Rueda
Ricardo Rueda was really good at math and physics growing up, but had always thought about becoming a doctor one day. After learning about the intersection of engineering and medicine in high school, he was hooked on bioengineering.
“I started learning about the intersection between engineering and medicine-- it seemed so scifi to me, the things that were going on. It was amazing and I wanted to be part of that,” Rueda said.
A first generation college student from a border town on the Rio Grande in Texas, Rueda was accepted into UC San Diego’s bioengineering department—the 2nd best in the country—and set off down a path that would include research in two professors’ labs, launching a company that provides in-home health monitoring through AI, and a plan to work in the biosensor industry after graduation.
He credits the first step of that process to being an IDEA Scholar.
“IDEA honestly kick started my whole research experience,” he said. “I knew I wanted to do research, and they helped me kick start that passion through the JUMP mentorship program. My mentor had an opening in the bioengineering lab she worked in, so that’s where I started off my research.”
After a year and a half of working in Professor Robert Sah’s Cartilige Tissue Engineering Lab, Rueda’s interests moved more towards bioelectronics. When an opening in Professor Joseph Wang’s Nanobioelectronics lab came up, he jumped at the chance.
Rueda worked on sensing glucose through sweat, and helped develop a microneedle system to deliver targeted drugs for cancer therapy. He plans to work in industry on similar types of bioelectronics systems after graduation.
In addition to the IDEA Center’s mentorship program, Rueda worked as a peer educator for IDEA’s Education Learning Communities, leading weekly review sessions for physics courses, and said IDEA’s summer program was hugely beneficial, as well.
“It kick starts you with a group of people that are in the same vibe. They all have a passion to excel and having this group of people to grind through difficult engineering courses makes a huge difference. It’s helped me build a great network and incredible friendships.”
Rueda’s advice for students is to embrace asking for help.
“Don’t be afraid to reach out to people and ask questions,” he said. ”There are many positions to fill and opportunities to take advantage of on this campus. Sometimes half of the effort is just reaching out to the right person and even if you don’t get to that person on your first try, there will always be someone more than willing to direct you to the right place, especially at IDEA.”