An achieved MIT university student researcher in wellbeing care robotics, with a lot of scholarship and fellowship awards to his name, A. Michael West is nonchalant about how he chose his path.
“I sort of fell into it,” the mechanical engineering PhD applicant says, introducing that growing up in suburban California, he was social, athletic — and superior at math. “I experienced the traditional alternative: You can be a health practitioner, a law firm, or an engineer.”
Possessing witnessed his mother’s grueling residency when she was training to be a medical professional, and sensation like he did not take pleasure in looking through and creating adequate to be a attorney, “That left engineer,” he suggests.
Luckily for us, he loved physics in large school since, he suggests, “it gave that means to the numbers we have been understanding in mathematics,” and later on, his important in mechanical engineering at Yale University agreed with him.
“I certainly caught with it,” West claims. “I appreciated what I was studying.”
As a increasing senior at Yale, West was selected to take part in the MIT Summer Analysis Plan (MSRP). The plan identifies gifted undergraduates to invest a summer on MIT’s campus, conducting exploration with the mentorship of MIT faculty, postdocs, and graduate students to put together plan participants for graduate review.
For West, MSRP was an training in what “exactly grad school was, primarily what it would be like at MIT.”
It was also, and most importantly, a source of validation that West could do well in the larger stages of academia.
“It gave me the self esteem to utilize to leading grad educational institutions, to know that I could really add listed here and be prosperous,” West claims. “It extremely a lot gave me the self-confidence to stroll into a home and technique people today who clearly know way far more than I do about sure subjects.”
With MSRP, West also discovered a community and built enduring friendships, he states. “It’s great to be in spaces wherever you get to see a great deal of minorities in science, which MSRP was,” he claims.
Getting benefited from the MSRP working experience, West gave again the moment he enrolled at MIT by working as an MRSP group leader for two summers. “You can create this exact practical experience for people today right after you,” he claims.
His involvement as a chief and mentor in MSRP is just a person way West has sought to give back. As an undergraduate, for illustration, he served as president of his school’s Nationwide Culture of Black Engineers chapter, and at MIT, he has served as treasurer for the Black Graduate Pupil Association and the Academy of Brave Minority Engineers.
“Maybe it’s just a familial matter,” West claims, “but currently being a Black American, my moms and dads elevated me in a way that you always keep in mind where you occur from, you remember what your ancestors went as a result of.”
West’s latest investigate — with Neville Hogan, the Solar Jae Professor in Mechanical Engineering, in the Eric P. and Evelyn E. Newton Laboratory for Biomechanics and Human Rehabilitation — is also aimed at assisting other individuals, particularly those who have endured orthopedic or neurological damage.
“I’m striving to fully grasp how humans management and regulate their movement from a mathematical standpoint,” he states. “If you have a way of quantifying the movement, then you can evaluate it improved and put into practice that to robotics, to make better devices to help in rehabilitation.”
Throughout his first 12 months of graduate college, West was picked as the Bernard (Ben) Gold Fellow. In 2022, he was picked out to be an MIT-Takeda fellow. The MIT-Takeda System, a collaboration involving MIT’s School of Engineering and Takeda Pharmaceuticals Business, largely encourages the application of artificial intelligence to profit human well being. As a Takeda Fellow, West has researched the capacity of the human hand to manipulate objects and equipment.
West states the Takeda Fellowship gave him time to concentrate on his investigation, the funding allowing him to forgo performing as a instructing assistant. Though he loves teaching and hopes to safe a tenure-observe place as a professor immediately after earning his PhD, he states the time determination involved with currently being a instructing assistant is sizeable. In the third 12 months of his PhD, West devoted about 20 hrs a week to a educating place.
“Having a whole lot of time to do exploration is fantastic,” he suggests. “Learning what you will need to find out about and carrying out the research will get you to the next move.”
In point, the type of analysis that West conducts is particularly time-intense. This is at the very least partly since human motor regulate consists of significantly automated, unconscious activity that is predictably tough to fully grasp.
“How do people today management these sophisticated, subconscious methods? Knowledge that is a sluggish-going system. A lot of the findings create on every other. You have to have a solid being familiar with of what is acknowledged, what is a working speculation, what is testable, what is not testable, and how to bring the non-testable to testable,” West suggests, incorporating, “We will not recognize how individuals command motion in my life span.”
To make progress, West says he has to meticulously move forward just one stage at a time.
“What are the modest issues I can talk to? What are the queries that have already been asked, and how can we create upon all those? That is when the activity becomes considerably less challenging,” he states.
In September, West will get started a fellowship with the MIT and Accenture Convergence Initiative for Marketplace and Technological know-how. Hoping to really encourage and aid conversation involving technology and field, the corporation selects five MIT-Accenture fellows each and every calendar year.
“What they’re wanting for is a person whose research is translational, that can have impacts in market,” West says. “It’s promising that they are interested in the basic, elementary analysis I’m executing. I haven’t labored on the translational side but. It’s one thing I’d like to get into after graduation.”
While earning prestigious fellowships and advancing human-robotic interactions in health care, West is nonetheless really substantially the laid-again dude who “fell into” engineering. He finds time to meet with friends on the weekends, took up rugby as a graduate pupil, and has a lengthy-length romantic relationship with his fiancée, with a wedding day date established for upcoming summer.
Questioned how he will counsel his long run learners when they approach sophisticated operate, he has a predictably peaceful reaction.
“Don’t be frightened to check with for assistance. There is constantly heading to be a person who’s much better at a little something than you are, and that’s a superior matter. If there weren’t, existence would be a very little boring.”