This week, Dr. Richardson led us in another short course. He employed the model of learn-by-doing as we created a presentation every afternoon regarding our product and incorporating what we had learned in the morning. We were in groups with professionals in the medtech industry and I learned a lot from their expertise and experience. My favorite lesson was about design for manufacture; we learned how to reduce manufacturing costs by simple design changes like substituting snap connections for bolts. It was enlightening to me when the manufacturing engineers in the room presented us with a top-ten list of what annoys them most about the designs they are given. It was an honor to work with these professionals and to benefit from their wisdom. I also received some great advice about interviewing, weighing job offers, and taking advantage of every opportunity.
As usual, the short course ended with a showcase on Friday where we were able to present our product through the lens of the week’s lessons. I am very grateful for these opportunities to practice my soft skills that I believe are vital to any professional. This week I focused on making eye contact with specific members of the audience and not looking at my slides while presenting. After watching the other presentations, next time I will focus on adding emphasis with my voice and hand gestures while grabbing the audience’s attention with an interesting fact or story.
On Monday, I’ll start my internship at Boston Scientific. I’ll be in the cardiology department of R & D in the Heredia location. I’m very excited to gain actual experience in bioengineering. I’m looking forward to learning all that I can by asking questions, designing, presenting, working, and being immersed in the industry. Since this will be my first real look at what bioengineers do, I’m itching to confirm my career choice and also gain insights into which parts of the industry interest me most. Likewise, I’m excited to benefit from the wisdom of my coworkers who I hope will not tire of my endless questions. I want to take full advantage of their experience and also learn by observation what it means to be an excellent employee and what it takes to be a great manager. I believe that I will also learn many vital soft skills like presenting clearly, communicating effectively, holding meetings, and working smart and hard. While my main goals for this summer are professional and personal growth, I know that everything I will experience at Boston Scientific will both motivate me in my studies when I return to Rice and also help me to find a job.
Just for fun, here’s an example of how my engineering brain works: I pondered the hotel’s shampoo supply (yes, I’m such a nerd). When I used the hotel’s free shampoo the first night, it was not at all what I expected (see picture). It was a relatively large packet filled with a tiny amount of shampoo. I was a bit annoyed; I assumed some sort of manufacturing defect had not sufficiently filled the packet. However, when I used what I could squeeze out the package, it was actually too much shampoo for my hair. I was confused why the producer had elected to concentrate the shampoo to an abnormal level. The next day, after discussing designing for manufacture in class, it hit me: why pay to ship water to someone in the shower? By concentrating the soap and reducing the amount of water in the solution, the manufacturer cut the shipping weight in half because no one needs more water in the shower. This is a perfect example of how I want to train myself to think in unconventional ways so that I too can devise clever ways to design products.
As always, fun facts about Costa Rica:
- Costa Ricans always follow high fives by fist bumps
- No one uses addresses, just landmarks for directions
- There is no carpet in the buildings, only tile or occasionally concrete, probably for cleaning purposes