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Fueling the Passion: Alum gains inspiration for biomedical research through Concordia’s classes

Cadets Spring Magazine 2018

By Drew Amstutz ’18

For Ryan Schaller, the start of his interest in biomedical engineering began during his time at Concordia. The science classes fueled his inspiration, and Phil Habegger’s approach to derivatives had a lasting impression. 

“No one could forget Mr. Habegger drawing graphs on his forehead in calculus class,” said the 2009 graduate. “His door was always open to help students working on tough problems or preparing for the AP calculus test.”

Schaller, now a biomedical engineer at Stryker in Kalamazoo, Mich., believes it was Concordia’s one-on-one attention that made the difference in his high school education.

“It wasn’t until after I attended a larger school that I realized the value of having a small student-to-teacher ratio,” he said. “I felt as if the staff at CLHS knew each of the students and their needs on a personal level. Because of this, I was able to find the help I needed to succeed in the classroom.”

Schaller said he appreciates the passion for Christian education that was prevalent among teachers at the high school. He pointed out that not only were the teachers willing to stay after school to lend a helping hand, but they also made learning fun through interactive lesson plans.

Schaller’s favorite aspects of the science classes at Concordia was partaking in hands-on labs on a regular basis. 

“Concordia did a great job of enabling students to get hands-on experience in class,” he said. “I specifically remember this in chemistry and AP physics. We were constantly performing experiments to help us see the correlations between what we were learning and how the theories played into the real world.”

Like his calculus teacher, Mr. Habegger, Schaller’s passion for his own field is renewed each day because of his opportunity to help others in need. 

“Biomedical engineering allows me to use my strength in science and math to help others,” he said. “Having the opportunity to create medical devices that better patients’ lives is what motivates me every day.”

Schaller’s favorite part of the biomedical engineering field is the vast array of possibilities after obtaining a degree. 

“Within biomedical engineering there are several different career paths one could take. I went into industry to create devices, while many others chose to pursue academic research. Still others even went into medical school,” he said. 

Regardless of the career path, Schaller encourages students interested in the field to give it a try. He believes that they too will develop a passion for the field, and in turn, change the lives of those in need.

“The biomedical engineering field is still growing tremendously as technology advances,” he said. “Biomedical engineering presents challenges that most other engineering fields don’t see, in that every patient is different.”