Global studies student hopes to help Detroit with technology

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August 14, 2017

Connor Tukel wants to make the world a better place — and he's starting with Detroit. 

Tukel is a junior at Wayne State University majoring in global studies and minoring in public health. He’s part of the MedStart program, a member of the Irvin D. Reid Honors College and a clinical research technician for multiple hospital emergency departments in Detroit. The aspiring doctor is also busy studying for the MCAT.

Connor Tukel Wayne State studentTukel originally majored in Near Eastern studies because he wanted to understand everything happening in the Middle East, but switched to global studies to broaden his focus and gain an international mindset. "I surprise a lot of people by being in MedStart and not majoring in science, but I'm still taking science classes,” Tukel said. “The combination of the two programs will make me a better, well-rounded doctor."

Tukel hopes to one day incorporate his love for technology and medicine into a career. "They're very much interrelated, health, technology and the global aspect,” he said. “I have this down-the-line picture of streamlining the three." 

Tukel is also passionate about changing people’s views of the city of Detroit. He grew up in Franklin, Michigan, and has always lived in the metro Detroit area. His most recent project was inspired while on vacation. "We met these people from Montreal and when we told them we were from Detroit, they said 'Oh, I'm so sorry.’"

Tukel knows that even with the changes and growth that Detroit has gone through, there are still negative perceptions of the city that he wants to change. "360 Degree Detroit is a project where I'll be using a 360-degree camera to capture Detroit's culture and attractions for people to view in a virtual reality setting." 

Tukel won a Global Crossroads scholarship to help fund the project, which will be presented in the fall. In the meantime, he is on a waiting list for a new camera. "I could show someone a cool photo of the city, I could describe to them what it's like at a Tigers game or at Eastern Market on a Sunday,” he said. “Or I could just have them put the goggles on; it’s indisputable."

Watching 360-degree videos on YouTube has helped Tukel get ideas for his project. "If I can leverage the feeling of being in Detroit to change people's perceptions, that would be pretty cool; that's what I'm ultimately trying to do." If his first video project goes over well, Tukel hopes to come up with more refined ideas and create a website or exhibition for Wayne State to use during events. 

Tukel believes that this virtual reality technology will soon be implemented in medical schools. "I think for teaching medicine, this could be an extremely powerful tool," he said.

Over the coming months, look for videos, stories and events featuring some of the many Wayne State initiatives and passionate individuals committed to the arts and culture. This content is part of WSU's Warriors in Action campaign highlighting how Wayne State makes a difference in Detroit and beyond.