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  • Writer's pictureGEARE Executive Board

GEARE Alumni Highlights - Part 3 (David Chiasson)

Last Tuesday (10/25/2022) I had the pleasure of sitting down and chatting with Dr. David Chiasson to hear about his GEARE experience.

Dr. Chiasson attended Purdue in 2008 and studied electrical engineering. In his junior year, he was one of the first GEARE students to study abroad at Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU) in Shanghai, China. Instead of doing an internship while abroad, he chose to pursue research during the summer before his senior year. Following graduation, Dr. Chiasson pursued his master’s degree in electrical engineering at Stanford University before returning to SJTU to obtain his doctorate in mechatronics, robotics, and automation engineering. He remained in China for several years, during which he co-founded SageMotion, a company that manufactures wearable haptic feedback devices which can be tailored to a variety of medical and athletic needs.

For Dr. Chiasson, participating in the GEARE program was a large step outside of his comfort zone. He had never traveled abroad beforehand, and although he had studied 300-level Chinese classes, he still didn’t feel prepared for what was to come. He went abroad early to take a Chinese language class at SJTU in preparation for his semester abroad, and during his spring semester, he made a conscious effort to only speak to his Chinese friends in Chinese. Gradually, he found his language ability improved, and he felt more adjusted to his new environment.

When asked about his biggest takeaway from the program, Dr. Chiasson said it was an improved sense of confidence. Had he not stepped out of his comfort zone and studied abroad in China, he doubted he would have had the confidence to go abroad for his Ph.D. or start his own company. Studying abroad can be an intimidating experience, especially when the country one is traveling to has a culture and a language very different from one’s own. However, if approached from the proper mindset–one of openness and growth–the experience can be life-changing.

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