Alex Kokini Selected for Bruce Helfert Memorial Award

Alex Kokini
Alex Kokini Selected for Bruce Helfert Memorial Award
Alex Kokini, a Weldon junior, has been selected to receive this year's Bruce Helfert Memorial Award.

"I am very appreciative of this honor," Kokini said. "I really appreciate the nomination and all the support the BME department has given me the past few years."

The Bruce Helfert Memorial Award is given each year to an outstanding junior in the College of Engineering or the College of Science to recognize that student’s academic excellence and demonstrated social concern. The award has been made possible by a gift from Mrs. Sylvia Helfert, and has been awarded for more than 40 consecutive years in memory of her son, Bruce, a 1964 graduate of Purdue’s School of Science.

Kokini was noted for the following contributions which exhibit his social concern:

  • He volunteered at a local hospital working in patient transport. He was able to comfort them by listening to their medical problems and their life stories.
  • He has been a mentor at the local Boys and Girls Club for about two years. He plays basketball with them providing the opportunity to interact and provide a positive influence.
  • He has participated in hospice care and has found it to be one of the most unique, rewarding, and challenging experiences he has had as a college student.
  • He has worked with patients at the Indiana Veteran’s Home. He lends a listening ear by allowing the patients to tell stories about what used to be and what is currently going on in their lives.
  • Recently, he traveled to Honduras on a medical mission trip. He was able to interact with the people of Honduras through helping give medicine, volunteering, and shadowing in a local hospital.

In addition to his social concerns, Kokini has been noted for his scholarly pursuits. His research experience has been in the area of implantable devices. He has worked in the Center for Implantable Devices in BME as an undergraduate research assistant since May of 2011. His work includes the development of an innovative automated intraocular pressure measurement and control system, supporting and performing rodent and rabbit surgeries on the eye and brain to test various devices, and the conceptualization of a visual stimulating and recording procedure for mice. He is currently working on integrating a pressure sensor into a wireless RF powered circuit for implantation and intraocular pressure recording.

In the summer of 2012, he worked as a Product Development Engineering Intern at Cook Biotech, Inc. in West Lafayette, IN. While there he designed protocols for verification and validation activities, developed preliminary hazards analyses, and conducted literature reviews for cutting edge medical devices. He also lead a team through the product development phases of being presented with a clinical problem, deconstructing the problem, identifying market needs, designing and developing prototypes, gathering clinical feedback, filing for IP protection, and planning out regulatory pathways. He is currently working there part-time moving his summer team project into development as well as starting research into a new clinical problem.

Kokini is actively involved with a number of student organizations and philanthropic organizations. He is currently the President and co-founder of Purdue Engineering Outreach (PEO), a new organization that aims to provide STEM outreach to middle school students by presenting engineering problems through interactive projects. PEO received a $2200 grant from Purdue Engineering Student Council that is allowing the organization to rapidly expand this year. He was actively involved in the Purdue Society of Professional Engineers his sophomore year as the MathCounts and Order of the Engineer Chair. He is also an active member of Tau Beta Pi, Alpha Eta Mu Beta, Phi Kappa Psi Fraternity, and an ambassador for the College of Engineering and the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering. He is an active volunteer for Serenity Hospice and the local Boys and Girls Club.

Kokini is passionate about the innovation process as applied to novel medical devices to help patients worldwide. He plans to attend medical school and specialize in some form of surgery. He would like to apply his skills as a surgeon and an engineer to work in areas where improvement is needed in medicine and as part of a diverse team to solve problems in order to clinically help patients.