Oakland University doctoral student Avinash Konkani was one of two students in the U.S. to be awarded the Michael J. Miller Scholarship from the Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation Foundation. Konkani is active within the university’s department of industrial and systems engineering, researching and teaching while pursuing his doctorate.
The $2,500 scholarship is awarded annually by the AAMI to students in the health care technology management field based on academic achievement, technical skills and commitment to the field.
Konkani accepted the award at the AAMI National Conference and Expo in Charlotte, N.C. in June.
He said the scholarship came as a surprise because it was a nationwide competition.
“I didn’t expect anything,” Konkani said. “I just applied and waited.”
Konkani enrolled as a doctoral student at OU during the Fall 2010 semester after earning his bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering from KLES College of Engineering and Technology in his hometown of Belgaum, India. He earned his master’s degree in biomedical engineering with a concentration in human factors engineering from Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio.
Konkani said he wanted a doctoral program that allow him to work in the field as a researcher and eventually as a teacher. He contacted engineering professor Barbara Oakley after reading her book “Career Development in Bioengineering and Biotechnology.”
“From our first conversation, it was quite clear to me that he was deeply interested in helping others,” Oakley said. “I feel fortunate he contacted me. We’re very lucky to have him.”
Since beginning his studies at OU, Konkani has conducted research with Oakley in an effort to reduce noise levels in the pediatric unit at William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak. The project is funded through an OU-Beaumont Multidisciplinary Research Award and addresses false alarms on hospital machines and their effects on patients.
Konkani and Oakley’s research was published in the “Journal of Critical Care” in October 2011.
Konkani was inspired to work in the medical field at the age of 14 when his father died in a hospital due to an incorrect dosage. According to him, his passion to teach comes from his desire to share his own real-world experiences in a classroom environment.
“That’s what I like about the education system in the U.S. — it’s not just about teaching a skill. The student is developed as a person as well,” he said. “I’d like to be in the field and transfer that practical knowledge into the classroom to best prepare students for the real world. They’ve got to know that the answer’s not always going to be in the book.”
He is currently a teaching assistant for the Introduction to Industrial Systems Engineering course. His primary responsibilities are organizing and teaching lab sections.
“He has done an excellent job and has received favorable evaluations from the students,” said Robert Van Til, industrial and systems engineering Department Chair. “Besides being an excellent teacher and researcher, he is a really nice person.”
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