Cameron and Sara Taylor certainly aren’t the only BYU students graduating this week that have been accepted to prestigious graduate programs. After all, BYU is No. 5 in the country for producing grads who go on to earn PhDs.
However, they could be the first-ever BYU couple to graduate simultaneously with degrees in electrical engineering and then head to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Both Sara, a Minneapolis, Minn., native, and Cameron, of Mesa, Ariz., have been accepted to MIT’s prestigious interdisciplinary research laboratory, the MIT Media Lab.
“Being able to do research as undergraduates has made a huge difference in us getting into MIT,” said Sara, who double majored in mathematics. “I had a research position right away here as a freshman and I continued doing research all four years.”
While Sara’s research on microfluidics led her to being a first author on a research publication as a undergrad, her focus at MIT will move to signal processing—taking electrical signals and making them measurable—for applications with human stress and anxiety.
Cameron’s research will be in biomechanics, with a specific focus on leg-amputee prosthetics that mimic actual biological functions.
“BYU has been the most intense educational experience of my entire life,” Cameron said. “We really feel like we’ve got a step up on the competition because we’ve been at BYU and we’ve learned the research process.”
BYU's other engineering power couple: Charles and Amy Wood
The Taylors aren’t the only engineering power couple making history at BYU. Amy and Charles Wood are also both studying in the Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering & Technology, albeit Amy as a graduate student and Charles as an undergraduate planning to graduate later this year.
The couple has put their knowledge together for humanitarian causes in India and, most recently, Peru. Combining Amy’s mechanical engineering skills with Charles’ manufacturing abilities, the pair worked on an affordable wooden cart to help Peruvian farmers wheel their goods to market.
Materials for the cart are cut out of a single piece of plywood and can be assembled without tools or fasteners. With the human-propelled cart, farmers no longer need to pay bus fares or carry a limited number of goods in their arms.
“We already had that desire to do good in the world before we came to BYU, but this environment really nurtured that in us,” Amy said. “BYU provided the opportunity for us to do it.”
The Woods have since made the designs for the cart publicly available online so people throughout the developing world can make the carts themselves.
Supported by NSF funding, the Woods are headed back to Peru this summer to manufacture and provide at cost simple clothes washing machines powered by bicycle parts.
“When you start expressing an interest in trying to help other people, so many things open up,” said Charles, who served a mission to Peru. “I knew I wanted to do something for others, but it wasn’t something I anticipated happening so well. One thing has led to another, thanks to BYU.”