Reflections

Final GMI Blog

It’s been almost eleven months since I came to Houston and started the GMI program. It’s been challenging, rewarding, and an experience I’ll never forget. I’ve learned and grown both as a person and as an engineer and I’d like to think I’m leaving this program with a more concrete goal of where I want to head in both my career and my life.

When I graduated from undergraduate I was both pleased and fairly confident in my skill set as a mechanical engineer. I likely had the technical skills to have done well in an industry position and, if I hadn’t mentioned it before, I had struggled with the decision to go to graduate school or move forward with a very good job offer from a medium-sized medical technology company. In the end, despite general understanding of biology and chemistry, I decided I wanted to further my knowledge of the medical technology industry to better myself for a position in research and development—something I’ve always been more interested in then the manufacturing engineering position I’d been offered.

The Global Medical Engineering program quickly taught me three things: (1) I knew next to nothing about the process for getting a medical product to market in either big companies or startups, (2) there was a whole other skill set I was going to need to develop to be successful, and (3) this is what I want to do with my life.

So, as for the first, I couldn’t have chosen a better program to quickly experience the full range of the medical device process. Between multiple industry seminars (ranging from small team startups to huge global corporations and everything in between) and the experience of finding medical needs and designing for customer requirements and market feasibility I am leaving this program with a whole new mindset for this industry. I now know better what to look for and what questions to ask in order to successfully design and test a product. In brief, it’s about continuous user input, rapid prototyping and iterations (to quickly determine what’s going to work and what’s not), designing for both the end user(s) and for eventual manufacture, and maintaining a global view—because what may work for one country may not for another.

And if it isn’t already obvious, before I came to Houston and Rice University, I really didn’t know what I didn’t know. Yes, I had a certain skill set that I was fairly confident in: CAD, FEA, CFD, presenting, working in a team, and problem solving but this industry requires more than that. In the GMI program I learned to observe. Oftentimes the true problem was not strictly defined (or even vaguely defined for that matter) and the “problem to solve” was just identifying the RIGHT problem in the first place. I learned to look for reactions from healthcare professionals and device users beyond what than just what they say. I learned to set my own deadlines, goals, and objectives with personal projects. I learned to seek continuous input and the true value of a wide, multidisciplinary network. I hope to carry on and expand these skills in my future endeavors.

Perhaps, most importantly, GMI helped me better define what I want to do. I’m a creator and a problem solver. I want to be on the forefront of technology, but not with advanced solutions. I want to create new and innovative ways to do procedures that will expand the global market. I have learned that my passion lies in developing markets and maintaining a world view. There are so many ways that we could bring technology, knowledge, and healthcare to the huge proportion of the world that is currently unrepresented. This program, through travel and international networking, has shown me the brilliance, kindness, and generosity of healthcare professionals around the world. I want to be part of their growing effort to improve and expand medical knowledge no matter country, culture, or background.

This has been an amazing program. Dr. Richardson is a superb advisor and Sheretta one of the best coordinators I’ve met. My team has been phenomenal. Michael’s natural leadership abilities, Luis’s graphic design skills, and Erica’s technical ability to research and problem solve have contributed to the amazing things we have done this year. I’m thankful for the opportunity this has been and I know the knowledge I’ve gained has made me a better person and engineer.

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