Alumni Spotlight: Grace Oswald, Biomechanics Consultant
B.S. in Biomedical Engineering, The Ohio State University (2022)
M.S. in Biomedical Engineering, The Ohio State University (2023)
Employer: S.E.A., Ltd., Columbus, OH
Describe your overall duties/ responsibilities as a biomechanics consultant:
S-E-A is a scientific consulting firm that mainly focuses in providing expert witness expertise in litigation matters, in addition to products testing. As a biomechanics consultant with S-E-A, I use my engineering background and anatomical knowledge to determine if the forces experienced during an incident are consistent with claimed injuries. This process can range from going to accident scenes and doing inspections, to performing calculations on visibility and forces, to referencing research and standards regarding human factors and their implications on warnings and labels. I am still early in my career, but more senior staff frequently testify in civil courts regarding the results of our investigations.
Explain the skills/abilities that are required for being successful in your role:
An interesting aspect of my job is that it deals directly with the legal world - the majority of my clients are lawyers or insurance claim representatives. Because of this, the ability to communicate your ideas effectively to lay persons is as important in the role as being technically sound. In terms of technical skills, I still frequently use the free body diagrams that we all saw in our physics and dynamics classes, as well as anatomy knowledge. Other important soft skills in my line of work are a continued curiosity and a certain amount of comfort with ambiguity and the unknown.
What advice would you give to students who are considering majoring in Biomedical Engineering?
If I had to give OSU students advice while they are completing their degrees in engineering, I would say two things. One, please please please take an English course. I know some of them double count as technical electives. So frequently we as engineers fall back on the "engineers don't write" trope, but as someone who took a large number of writing and English courses in undergrad, I can tell you that my ability to write succinctly and to a variety of audiences is probably one of the skills that S-E-A appreciates most about me. As for the second piece of advice, figure out what you want to specialize in early on. This stems from the realization that BME is such a broad field. I realized early that I wanted to be more mechanically inclined, so in addition to our very interesting elective options, I also worked towards furthering my understanding of core mechanical engineering topics.
What was your favorite thing/most memorable experience at OSU?
I would say that as much as I loved BME, my most memorable experiences at OSU were made outside of an engineering classroom. My freshman year I went to THE Game in The Shoe, and while I don't really follow football, it helped me realize just how great OSU is. I also took several classes "just for fun", like glassblowing and digital media editing, all which made me recognize how important it is to have some form of creative outlet.