Alex Markoski stands in a lab. He's wearing safety glasses, blue rubber gloves, and a lab coat, and is smiling at the camera with his hands folded in front of him.

Senior Alex Markoski Named Draper Fellow

Yet another accomplishment to add to this busy senior’s WPI resume

May 7, 2018
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When double major Alex Markoski ’18 says he really enjoys a good challenge, he’s not kidding. Markoski, who will graduate on May 12 with bachelor of science degrees in mechanical engineering and biomedical engineering, was selected a member of the Draper Fellows program, in which he will participate at Brown University, pursuing a master’s in biomedical engineering.

Markoski already has a resume filled with more accomplishments than some people twice his age. Add to this the fact that he’s literally a rock star—a musician, singer, and songwriter who has performed in more than 400 shows, playing guitar, bass, ukulele, and keyboard. Who’s got time for sleep?

“Getting involved with things that challenge me and push my skills further empowers and drives me instead of bogging me down with stress,” says Markoski, who was also the previous vice president of the Biomedical Engineering Honors Society and a member of Phi Kappa Theta fraternity. “I enjoy challenging myself and exploring new opportunities. Most of all, though, I enjoy helping people, and if I am able to make at least one person happy by the end of the day, it's a day worth living for me. This passion to help others drives me to continue pursuing new opportunities and stay positive despite my busy schedule.”

Markoski’s WPI opportunities include being named last year’s Two Towers Prize winner and honorable mention awardee of the Class of 1879 Prize for Outstanding Projects in the Humanities. He interned the past five summers at Draper Labs in Cambridge, Mass., where his work included characterizing, implementing, and validating organ-on-a-chip technology and various organ assist devices for lungs and kidneys.

“WPI has a great motto of 'Theory and Practice.' Over the years, that’s something I’ve taken to heart ... WPI has taught me how to learn. I feel comfortable going into the next steps of my life. I cannot thank the university enough for all the opportunities that exist on this campus.” -Alex Markoski

As one of WPI’s first University Innovations Fellows (UIF), a prestigious national organization funded by the National Science Foundation and directed by Stanford University and VentureWell, Markoski brought back skills he learned at a national UIF meetup to help WPI students discover what he calls “the entrepreneurial mindset, innovation, and design thinking” through events, workshops, and collaboration with faculty on the WPI campus. He created a student group to develop an entrepreneurial mindset called WPI LaunchPad.  

Markoski sees a direct link between his experience as a University Innovation Fellow and his acceptance as a Draper Fellow, and hopes to one day develop an idea and see it through from the brainstorming phase all the way to the marketing phase, using entrepreneurial skills he learned as a UIF.  “The experience at UIF has translated into where I’m going with the Draper Fellowship,” he says.  His selection into UIF was a product of his drive at WPI, Markoski adds.   

Draper also factored into Markoski’s Major Qualifying Project (MQP). He worked with a team of three other WPI students and Draper staff members to develop a format for sensing oxygen in its organ-on-a-chip platform as well as a means for fabricating and implementing it into their final system. “We were able to provide Draper with a new oxygen sensing format and a means of implementing it into their current system in a way that allows for mass production for market deployment,” Markoski explains. “Draper's system will soon help millions in the medical industry by improving the screening process for new and helpful medicines and treatments.”

Biomedical engineering professor Kristen Billiar served as the group’s advisor. “When Alex and his teammates approached me to advise their MQP, I was excited to mentor them, knowing what great students they were,” he says.  

In 2016 Markoski went to Hangzhou, China, for his Interactive Qualifying Project (IQP) and worked with ChuangChao Investment to evaluate and develop a co-working/incubator space for start-ups accounting for culture and needs within Hangzhou’s business community.  “WPI has a great motto of 'Theory and Practice,'” Markoski says. “Over the years, that’s something I’ve taken to heart.”

With graduation just days away, Markoski’s days at WPI are numbered, but he will still have a direct link to campus: his brother will be a sophomore in the fall.

“WPI has taught me how to learn,” Markoski says. “I feel comfortable going into the next steps of my life. I cannot thank the university enough for all the opportunities that exist on this campus.”

- By Lauren Curran