For nearly 25 years, PLTW has offered transformative classroom and learning experiences for PreK-12 students. Now, many of those students are professionals in STEM fields. We recently reached out to several PLTW alumni to learn more about their educational and career journeys and find out what advice they have for current PLTW students. If you are a PLTW alumnus interested in sharing your story, we’d love to hear from you here.
Ayush Panda lives in Bloomington, Indiana, and attends Indiana University Bloomington (IU) majoring in neuroscience and psychology. In high school, Ayush completed the Principles of Biomedical Science, Human Body Systems, Medical Interventions, and Biomedical Innovations courses in the PLTW Biomedical Science program.
In what grades did you participate in PLTW? What were some of your most memorable experiences from PLTW?
I participated in PLTW in 9th-12th grades. My favorite memories were the group projects and labs. They were fun ways to collaborate with my peers and make long-lasting friendships.
What did your journey look like to get to where you are today?
Everyone’s journey is different. For me, I was selected to be a part of the ASURE program at IU and had the opportunity to work with neuroblastoma cells as a freshman. I was responsible for running PCR, electrophoresis, and collecting data to make a research presentation. Additionally, I was able to get an internship as a health clinician with Damar Services after my freshman year and I'm currently working in an undergraduate research position in the cognition and neuroimaging lab. These experiences have taught me a lot about time management and how to interact with individuals that may not have the same perspectives as me or may not have the opportunity to see the world through the same lens as myself. I’m hoping to continue learning with the CANlab and apply myself to the best of my abilities.
What is your current role within your company - What are your responsibilities in this position?
As an undergraduate researcher, I study how actions within an environment affect memory and idea processing using various imaging techniques and research methods. My current study involves students with and without ADHD and deals with information retention. I’m responsible for tracking data across multiple participants and making sure the experiment operates smoothly.
What did you learn in PLTW that still helps you today?
PLTW taught me many things that I still use today. Reading and analyzing research papers have been the most useful skills I learned in Biomedical Innovations. I use these skills almost every week and am often more efficient than my peers because I had early exposure to the material in high school. During my ASURE lab, I was ahead of many of my peers because I already had experience working with pipettes and running gel electrophoresis and PCR.
Do you have any advice for current PLTW students?
Have fun with the material you are learning now. I made a lot of friends in my PLTW classes and often use the skills and knowledge I gained from those classes in my day-to-day life in and out of the classroom. It’s not always the end goal that matters, but more so the experiences along the way.