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Kristin Pilotte
08-05-2002, 04:26 AM
Howdy...
I'm not sure if this is the right forum to ask this in, so if it is, I
apologize in advance.

My name is Kristin Pilotte, and I'm a Masters of Science student in
Aerospace Engineering at the University of Maryland, College Park. My
undergraduate degree is a BS in Physics, and I anticipate finishing my MS
within a year (by May 2003). However, through my undergraduate and now
graduate career, I've felt that I keep coming back to a strong desire to
work with people, and work in a rehabilitation field. I went through the
intro courses thinking I was going to apply to medical school after I got
my BS, but decided fairly early on that I could never tell somebody that
they were dying (just a personal issue) and that maybe medical school
wasn't for me. I was working, at the time, in the Space Systems Laboratory
at UMd, doing design work for a space robot called Ranger Telerobotic
Shuttle Experiment. To stay involved with the project after gradaution, I
opted to come and get my MS. Now the project is almost done, and all of my
work with the robot is pretty much done. I was responsible for designing
the end effectors for the dexterous robot to do satellite servicing tasks
in space. I'm working on my thesis, which is a trade study on the ability
of dexterous robots to do space servicing tasks, and an exploration of what
level of dexterity allows you to do certain types of tasks. In my class
work, therefore, I've focused mainly on design classes and classes related
to human factors and biomechanics--the principles there easily extend to
robots, particularly for space applications.

Enough of my research and background. The other aspect that's important is
that though I decided medical school wasn't for me, I never have given up
that I want to work in the orthopaedic rehabilitation field. As a
competitive soccer player, rock climber, and in karate, I've had experience
in personal injury (double shoulder surgery, sprained right knee with
subluxations, chipped left kneecap, lateral ankle reconstruction coming up
next week, a few broken fingers, a broken toe, cracked ribs...not all at
the same time, of course) thus was looking into going into biomechanics
design engineering. However, I'm still afraid of sitting in front of a
computer 24/7, so the thought occurred to me to go into physical therapy.

I guess my question really becomes this. I'm seriously considering PT
school...but given what I want to do, is it possible that medical school
(if I could get in) would serve me better for research opportunities? Are
there any PTs out there that do engage in research of rehabilitation (both
via physical therapy and the use of orthoses, whose design I'm particularly
interested in given my experience with knees and ankles) in addition to
working with patients? Does anybody out there know if either the
University of Maryland system or Johns Hopkins University system have any
programs that might allow me to work with patients and do research and
apply my biomechanical engineering skills (I ask about those particularly
since for family reasons I would prefer to be in this area for a few more
years anyway)?

Thanks in advance for any suggestions or advice anybody could offer, and I
apologize again if I've asked my questions in the wrong forum. As I
mentioned earlier, I have about a year to figure this stuff out, but I'm
trying to start to determine what my next step is.

Thanks,
kristin pilotte
University of Maryland Space Systems Lab
http://ranger.ssl.umd.edu/data/

~kristin (kristin@ssl.umd.edu)
shoulder surgeries: http://www.wam.umd.edu/~viperkjp/shoulder_surgery.htm
"Well-behaved women rarely make history" -Laurel Thatcher Ulrich
"If you drink two beers and three shots of espresso, there's a twenty
minute period where you can climb anything." --Unidentified climber at
Joshua Tree
"Humans are the only animals that have children on purpose with the
exception of guppies, who like to eat theirs." --P. J. O'Rourke

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