Matthew Pharris  | Student Internships

Matthew Pharris comes from Phoenix, Arizona, and nearly stayed in his home area for college, until he visited Purdue. Matthew found that, unlike other engineering schools, Purdue offers unmatched access to research for undergraduates, a strong history of producing outstanding engineers, and a “classic” college experience. Inspired to work in health care, Matthew decided biomedical engineering was a perfect compromise between his love of medicine and skill in math. “BME really gets to the heart of what engineering is all about: improving people’s lives.”


Conducting concussion research with Purdue’s Dr. Riyi Shi helped Matthew decide which internships he would pursue. During the summer between his sophomore and junior year, Matthew worked as an experimental design engineer for the Spinal Biomechanics Division at Barrow Neurological Institute. This facility is located in Phoenix, Arizona, at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center. While working there he designed improvements and expanded the functionality of their testing apparatus. “I loved working alongside physicians at surgical prep, during rounds, and in the lab dissecting human spine specimens for a range of biomechanical tests.” Matthew is especially happy with having applied this experience towards being the undergraduate TA for BME 256 in the spring of 2013.

In the summer of 2013, Matthew worked at Fort Wayne Metals Research Products Corporation (FWM) in Castlebar, Ireland. At FWM, Matthew tested Nitinol and various stainless steel alloys for use in medical-grade wire and designed commercial processes for wire coatings. These products will become cardiovascular stents, pacemaker leads, etc. Matthew says that every day in Ireland is a memorable one. “Besides being able to take trips to Dublin, Liverpool, Munich, and Barcelona, just being at work is an incredibly international experience. I enjoy every minute of it.” Working with medical wire has given him an appreciation for how much effort goes into even the smallest devices.


After his time at Purdue, Matthew intends to eventually apply for medical school and take on a specialty in surgery. “If I end up working in the industry following graduation from Purdue, I hope my job entails travel and personal interaction,” he says. “I really want to experience the impact my career has on people. Engineering is about making a difference.” 


Matthew encourages students to apply for internships. However, he says to do your research first! Attend as many interviews as possible, but be certain that you will be accepting an interesting position.