Madison Newberry is one of many staff members in the Frank Innovation Zone who are helping student’s dreams become realities. We recently caught up with the bioengineering major to find out what is happening in Voiland College’s high-tech makerspace.

Laser engravings are popular in the Frank Innovation Zone.Laser engravings are popular in the Frank Innovation Zone.

Maddie, what goes on in the FIZ?

The Frank Innovation Zone, or FIZ, gives students the opportunity to create with their imaginations. Offering welding, plasma cutting, as well as 3000 square feet of wood, metal, and desktop fabrication space, students have endless possibilities in the FIZ.

One student recently used tools in the FIZ to build two electric guitars. Another built a custom longboard. Students have used the FIZ to create puzzles, boxes, Bluetooth audio adapters, and custom engravings. My favorite FIZ project was when two students built a pseudo lava lamp during the annual Hardware Hackathon.

My favorite tool in the FIZ is definitely the laser engraver. I’ve been called the “Laser Queen.”

How does as bioengineer end up working in the FIZ?

I have always been curious. During my childhood, I spent my free time reading books about how things worked and learning to fix things. From a young age, I helped my uncles with many of their projects.

I love helping students solve problems. I have the opportunity to teach students to use machines and give advice on their projects. It is inspiring to see my minor influence spark such creativity and innovation.

Why bioengineering?

I chose bioengineering as my major because it combines organic and mechanical engineering. I learn about mechanical systems and apply that knowledge to the human body and other organic processes, unique to other engineering disciplines.

Bioengineers also utilize computer modeling systems to demonstrate body movement. These tools help develop devices to make life more livable. I can learn a bit of everything and apply those skills to solve problems and help people. This includes learning about electronics, programming, materials, statics, dynamics, human anatomy, chemistry, and biology.

I consider myself to be a thinker, an innovator, and a team member. I hope to spend my life learning, creating, and making life better for everyone.

Newberry with her SURCA poster.
Newberry with her SURCA poster.

Have you had any opportunities to conduct research at WSU?

Currently, I work for Professor Haluk Beyenal, researching a treatment for bacterial infection in wounds without using antibiotics. We developed a device to treat these types of wounds that has been successful in laboratory experiments so far.

I recently won an award at WSU’s Showcase for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities (SURCA) for this research. My mentor, Mia Kiamco, tasked me with making the original device design and then developing a new design that would be biocompatible.

Why WSU?

I chose WSU because I felt a real connection here. Every WSU student that I had met was passionate about being a Coug. It’s a family, and I felt that before I was even a Coug myself.

Newberry waves the flag during a semester abroad in Europe.
Newberry waves the flag during a semester abroad in Europe.

What advice do you have for future Coug engineers?

Never stop fighting for what you want. If you love something enough, no one can stop you.

I have been discouraged. I have failed. I have felt inferior. But I have never given up. As I prepare to graduate, I appreciate those experiences. Nothing worth achieving is easy—otherwise, everyone would do it.

GPA doesn’t necessarily reflect ability. Failure can be an important aspect of learning, so don’t let grades define you.

Find groups to join at WSU, because you learn most from peers. It doesn’t have to be in your major. Everyone has different talents, and genius occurs in collaboration.