Master's Profile: Jordan Ekaidat
Current Position: Data Scientist at WOO Sports
Undergraduate Degree: Bachelor of Science in Physiology and Neuroscience, University of California, San Diego, 2015
Duke BME Master’s Program Path: MEng in Biomedical Engineering–Biomechanics track, 2015-2016
What work do you do?
I work as a data scientist for WOO Sports, an action sports startup in Boston. We developed a sensor for action sports athletes that can detect the trick they do and give them a score for their execution. In short, we are bringing the experience of a video game to real-life for athletes in board sports, like surfing or skateboarding. My role on the team has been to create the system used to detect tricks from the WOO sensor data. This has allowed me to travel all over the United States and Europe, and gave me the opportunity to work with some of the best action sports athletes in the world. My education at Duke prepared me both for the startup life and provided me with the skills necessary to step up as a leader in the workplace.
How did your time at Duke prepare you for your current job?
My time at Duke was invaluable for preparing me for my current role. A friend in my research group helped me find WOO Sports during my internship search and the Masters of Engineering curriculum helped me develop important skills in entrepreneurship, preparing me for work in startups. My time as an Duke student allowed me to work on research projects that helped me hone skills useful for my project at work.
Tell us about your research
As an MEng student I worked with a research group studying nonlinear modeling of physiological systems in response to exercise. The project I worked on involved creating a nonlinear dynamical model of heart rate and VO2 response to exercise, and using an optimization routine to predict a person’s heart-rate max and VO2 max. I was responsible for tuning model parameters to provide best fit for the input data when compared to the model. I also worked on a project using an IMU sensor to detect the onset of fatigue in athletes as they progress through their exercise routine. This experience with IMU sensor data to measure biomechanics over time provided me with the foundation I needed to make an impact at WOO Sports.
What was the most valuable part of your Duke experience?
The most valuable part of my Duke experience was the immense pride and passion that everyone has about the campus. From an academic perspective, I would often find myself after class chatting about cool ideas I have with my professors, who both encouraged me to pursue them and often connected me with someone to helped me get it done. This is how I got involved in my research project at Duke, and I believe this opportunity is available to anybody at Duke who has a passion they wish to pursue.
From an extracurricular perspective, the passion and pride that students have at Duke helped shape my time at the University. The people who Duke invites into their master’s programs are truly outstanding and interesting individuals, and I have often found myself so impressed and inspired by the experiences my peers have had. I formed strong bonds with my friends at Duke, and even though it was only a relatively short amount of time I feel I have developed lifelong friendships with them.
What were the most useful courses that you took?
The most useful class I took was a special topics course – ME 555: Dynamical Modeling of Exercise and Fitness. This class was directly in line with what I am passionate about, and truly engaged and challenged me in ways other classes couldn’t at Duke. Additionally, the class was taught by Brian Mann, a professor of mechanical engineering at Duke. I completed my research in Dr. Mann’s lab, so this class was responsible for shaping my academic career at Duke.
What advice would you give to someone considering a master’s degree in BME at Duke?
I encourage anyone pursuing a MS degree in BME at Duke to push themselves out of their comfort zone. The university has so many resources and so many passionate people that are willing to help. If you are truly passionate about something, there is sure to be someone at Duke who shares that with you and is willing to help you get involved in a project or club. Aside from academics, make sure to put yourself out there socially as well. Duke has so many social activities to offer, from awesome sporting events to weekly social hours and other events set up by the master’s program. If you take advantage of everything Duke has to offer, your experience will be well worth it.