Q&A: Brandon Tran

February 2, 2018

Brandon Tran is a Junior(Class of 2019) from Providence, RI. He is majoring in Electrical Engineering and minoring in Computer-Integrated Surgery and Robotics. 

How did you get interested in electrical and computer engineering? What interests you the most about the field?

I’m a very indecisive person, so it wasn’t much of a surprise that I majored in ChemBE and then MechE before deciding on EE.  I always wanted to work with medical devices, but I realized I didn’t want to take a life science route to it; which is why I switched to MechE from ChemBE.  I then realized that I was awful at hand drafting, so I wanted to switch out of MechE.  That semester, I took Physics 2,  which I fell in love with, so I decided I would try EE. Early in my EE career, the electrical concepts in circuits and electromagnetics and the digital circuit logic in DSF hooked me into the major.  Now, I am most interested in controls and how they relate to robotics and more specifically surgical robotic systems.

What made you decide to come to Johns Hopkins?

I was recruited to wrestle at Johns Hopkins so that was a large factor in deciding to come here. I also wanted to be far from home and enjoyed the focus on research for undergraduates.

Are you involved in any research? If so, what’s your role?

Yes, I am currently developing a force sensing surgical drill for the Galen robot, a hand-over-hand surgical robotic system.

What impact do you hope to make through your research?

By adding force sensing to a surgical drill, I hope that the force sensing can then be used to implement safety controls with the surgical drill.  For example, if the force exerted on the drill gets too high, a robotic system could retract the drill or turn it off.

Outside of lab and class: what are you involved with (groups, organizations, intramurals, etc.)?

I am the treasurer of the FIJI fraternity and IEEE JHU chapters, and also a design team member of the Robotics Club and Engineering World Health.

What sort of impact do you hope to have either as an engineer or in a STEM field?

I hope to further healthcare by helping physicians perform tasks that they cannot do due to physical limitations.  By doing so, I hope to make medical procedures safer and more effective for patients.  I believe that everyone deserves the basic human right to health and I believe surgical robotics will make that belief closer to a reality.

What are your plans or goals for the rest of your time in the program at JHU?

I plan to finish my degree while taking a few graduate courses as an undergraduate.  In addition, I plan on completing the robotics masters here.

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