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My Story

I am Claire Szuter and I am from Trenton, New Jersey. I am studying Biomedical at Duke University as well as earning a certificate in Innovation and Entrepreneurship. I love to cook and bake, do yoga in the morning, watch every duke basketball game, and explore new Durham restaurants with my friends. One thing that I’d want people to ask me about is my passion for adaptive clothing and innovations for the disability community.

What led me to adaptive clothing started off with my journey to Duke and to Biomedical Engineering. In high school, I wanted to be a doctor because I knew it was my passion to help others. In my junior year I was chosen to attend the GAINS (Girls Advancing in STEM) at Stanford University and was mesmerized by the Biomedical Haptics Lab. Previously, I had believed Engineers just built bridges, and I never knew the full range of areas that an engineer can specialize in. That experience led me on the path of pursuing healthcare from a different direction. Now knowing that I wanted to be a Biomedical Engineer, I looked into universities with good BME programs, which is what led me to Duke. However, my true reason for choosing Duke was the community and collaborative culture that I saw and felt as I was on my tour. Especially as an engineer, learning in a collaborative environment is the key to success and for producing new and innovative ideas.

At Duke I’ve had may formative experiences, such as working in the Truskey Tissue Engineering Lab, which helped me realize that I didn’t want to go into cell culture. My Freshman Design Project, which was designing and creating a suction toothbrush attachment for ALS patients using 3D printing with medical grade resin helped me realize that I did, however, want to go into medical technology. During this time, I was also introduced to the idea of adaptive clothing, which is clothing for people with disabilities. Helping my friend create and run the new Runway of Dreams @ Duke club threw me into the world of adaptive apparel, and it quickly became a topic I could talk about for hours.

Leading up to my junior year, I had planned to work at large fashion company that produces adaptive clothing, however, due to COVID-19 the internship was cancelled. Though I initially took this as a setback, I quickly filled my time with two other internship opportunities. I participated in the Duke Summer Innovation Sprint to further research my aspirations to create adaptive clothing. I was able to collaborate and connect with large fashion companies and was given new insights into the growing industry, as well as getting experience with cold calling and doing thorough market research. In addition, in my second internship, I worked with doctors and surgeons on their medical device innovations with the Medical School Innovators Academy. I further practiced market research, consulted with medical professionals, and gained invaluable experience in how to create new products in the med-tech industry. Overall, I learned a wide range of new skills that will serve me well in the medical industry, whether it be at a large med-tech company, or my own start-up.

Ultimately, my passions are widespread and diverse, which is reflective of my personality. My path to Duke BME and to adaptive clothing seemed like a roller-coaster, but one thing remained the same throughout: my passion to treat people. Whether it be working with a surgeon to create a novel surgical device or creating a body scanning technology to help the fashion industry enter the adaptive market, I know that my ultimate goal of helping others and making a genuine change in someone’s life will beachieved.