Feature Stories 2024: Christian Fall '24: An electrical engineer en route to medical school

Feature Stories 2024: Christian Fall '24: An electrical engineer en route to medical school
Christian Fall '24: An electrical engineer en route to medical school

Electrical engineer and entrepreneur is the first undergraduate SMART Scholar at UMassD

Electrical engineering major and Honors College student Christian Fall '24 is UMass Dartmouth's first undergraduate to receive the Department of Defense (DoD) SMART Scholarship. Fall is an engineer on a pre-med track; he is also an entrepreneur whose collaborative projects won him the first- and second- place prizes at the 2023 Corsair Idea Challenge. Fall credits his UMassD professors for helping him grasp opportunities and supporting his pursuit of a bold and unique career path. 

Why did you choose UMass Dartmouth? 

"I liked that it was close to home for me, and I knew the strong reputation of the engineering programs. When I came here, the school lived up to my expectations plus more. All the professors have been amazing." 

Why electrical engineering?  

"I was always into math, I liked the idea of engineering, and I had a knack for those things. I was attracted to the option UMassD offers to pursue dual degrees in both computer engineering and electrical engineering. However, I decided coding wasn't for me, and became more interested in the integration and overlap of human physiology and electrical engineering. I started taking classes that will be pre-requisites for medical school."  

Medical school is an unusual goal for an engineer; how did you make that connection?  

"I think there is a lot an engineering undergraduate degree can bring to centralized medicine. There are electrical pathways all throughout your body, it's essentially how neurons communicate; given that humans are semiconductors, I think the integration of electrical engineering principles can help solve many problems in modern medicine. For example, I worked with my friend, Logan Bento, a bioengineering major, to develop Cold Red, a device that uses technology to promote healing and pain management."   

Is there someone on campus – professor or otherwise – who has made a difference in your life? 

"Dr. Paul Gendron is one of the smartest people I've ever met, and he is so personable. I'm amazed by his level of knowledge. He is always available, not just to help with what we're learning in class , but also to discuss other topics I'm interested in. Dr. Gendron has been incredibly helpful to me, and he really cares about his students and is invested in our futures."  

You're the first undergraduate at UMassD to receive a Department of Defense SMART scholarship. Tell us about how you came to this opportunity. 

"When I was a sophomore, Dr. Lance Fiondella told our class he would be holding a scholarship meeting. At the meeting, he told us about the DoD SMART scholarship opportunity. I approached him and asked if he would be my mentor. That relationship proved extremely helpful. Dr. Fiondella has experience with the Department of Defense and gave me guidance during the application process."  

The SMART Scholarship program is an education and workforce development opportunity for STEM students in 24 disciplines. SMART scholars receive tuition funding, a stipend, internships, and guaranteed employment with the Department of Defense after graduation.  

Seniors Christian Fall (left) and Dylan Cantara (right) pose with their ceremonial first-place check
Christian Fall '24 and Dylan Cantara '24, first place winners of the 2023 Corsair Idea Challenge

Two Corsair Idea Challenge wins: Embargo basketball league and Cold Red therapy 

In December 2023, Fall was a member of two separate partnerships competing among the finalists in the 8th annual Corsair Idea Challenge. The Corsair Idea Challenge tasks students with pitching their idea for a new product, service, or experience to a panel of three experienced judges and a live audience in less than 5 minutes, with an additional 5 minutes of Q&A. Winners are awarded cash prizes and a two-month membership to the Co-Creative Center in downtown New Bedford. Fall's projects won first and second place.  

"My friend Dylan Cantara '24 (finance) and I grew up together in Fairhaven and always wanted to work together. Embargo is our shared project: a local basketball league, clothing brand, and podcast. It's all designed to promote a healthy lifestyle, because health affects all aspects of your life.  

"The basketball league provides community and interpersonal connections. We're in the process of adding a women's league, something that's missing in this area. The podcast covers all kinds of health-related topics, including mental health, fitness, sports, and technology.   The clothing line is a way to live out our mission in real time, tying everything together."

Fall and Cantara also competed in the Collegiate DECA International Career Development Conference and won second place in the Entrepreneurship - Growing Your Business category.  

"Cold Red, which I mentioned earlier, is the other project I presented at the Idea Challenge with my friend Logan Bento. Cold Red combines cold therapy and red-light therapy, two known ways to boost healing into a single device for maximum effects. 

"Competing in the Idea Challenge was a fun experience. In both cases, we already had our ideas fairly fleshed out, but now we had to think about how to market and present them in a compelling way."

Seniors Christian Fall (left) and Logan Bento (right) pose with their ceremonial second-place check
Christian Fall '24 and Logan Bento '24, second place winners of the 2023 Corsair Idea Challenge

Have you been involved in internships or research? 

"I interned at the Naval Undersea Warfare Center. The work itself is classified, but it was exciting to use what I've learned at UMassD, and see how it translates into the workforce.  

"For my senior design project, my team is working on a device called MADWEC (Maximal Asymmetric Drag Wave Energy Converter) that creates power from ocean waves by converting the energy into electrical power and storing it in a battery.  We've been working with Professors Mehdi Raessi and Dan MacDonald at SMAST.  

"My Honors College APEX project (Academic Project or Experience) is on large scale telemetry and how its electrical makeup affects important engineering factors such as cost analysis, ethics, and more. The study focuses on the difference between large scale parallel rigged telemetry and large-scale series rigged telemetry. I will be building small scale models of parallel, and series- rigged telemetry devices, testing them for shorts, opens, overvoltage and other electrical properties with the goal of determining which system is more viable, all things considered." 

Fall also won first place at the 2024 Sigma Xi Scientific Research Honor Society 28th Annual Research Exhibition. 

Advice for future Corsairs? 

"Become the best person you can be with respect to whatever you have a passion for and learn how to advance yourself in life through it. 

"I also think it's important for younger students to realize the name of the school you go to is not as important as what you do with the opportunities that come your way.  Instead of striving to go to a well-known school, focus on being a person worth knowing. The College of Engineering at UMass Dartmouth has helped me grow my network and take advantage of amazing opportunities. It's been a fantastic education."  

What are your plans after graduation? 

"After graduation, I will work for a Department of Defense facility to fulfill my scholarship contract.  After that, I plan to go to medical school. In the meantime, I will be studying for the MCAT and continuing to build my businesses."