Week 7: The Engineering Nomad

Waking up three minutes before the bus was supposed to depart for work on Friday is never a pleasant experience, but when the rush to get ready and out the door (in the same time it takes to brew the corporate coffee in the office) is all said and done, all I could think was, “wow, what a busy week.” As an intern, as a student, and as an explorer in Costa Rica, there never seems enough time in the day to appreciate all that has been accomplished in the week, and in that regard this blog is a fantastic forum to do just that. Though we are just wrapping up the second week of our internships, we have achieved far more than what you would first envision at a 7-4 job.

Co-worker dinner at Applebees!

Any updates on the work front?

After a shutdown week, neuromodulation is back in full force! Not only did I have the chance to meet my supervisor, but I also met the neuromodulation team that brings a vibrant and dynamic aura to the workplace. They immediately welcomed me to the team, treated me as one of their own, and in return it has already made a huge impact on my productivity. When you work with a team that all share a common goal, you worry less about whether someone is performing well and focus more about how you can help one another succeed. This type of work environment has resonated with me, and it has motivated me to work as hard as I can in the remaining time I have here.

Additionally, my supervisor has been nothing but supportive from the first time we met this past week. As a professor at a local university, he understands the importance of ensuring that I get the most out of this internship while simultaneously providing value to Boston Scientific, so we developed a timeline that will achieve both. Namely, in a continuing effort to ultimately reduce the charging time of the IPG, I have spent and am spending this and the next week on an “ideation phase,” which aims to develop as many solutions as possible, whether or not they may actually be viable. The goal is to allow me to learn about all the systems involved with charging between the charger and the IPG and to identify areas that can be improved. In that regard, I can then assess these potential areas using the model I have been creating to understand how we can effectively use our time to develop future iterations of the product.

In essence, my goal is to provide the framework for future improvements to the device, which not only comes with lots of research, but also with a mentality of innovation and criticism. With the freedom to change any aspect of the current product, I get to think along any tangent that can make a difference, but this also comes at a price. While in an ideal world we could dedicate full time to every potential issue, we realistically only have a finite amount of resources to do so. Some solutions, though viable, may not yield an outcome that is financially worth the investment to change, and thus it is my job to find the balance between innovation and reality, which I think is pretty cool.

 

What made this week different?

If there was a week where I had to go with the flow, it would be this week. On Monday, a videographer from Rice University visited to gather some footage of the GMI program, so Tasha, Sanjana, and I traveled out to Guanacaste (3.5 hours of driving one way) to gather some interviews and rebuild DialOasis [refer to blog 4] for the camera. On Tuesday and Friday, I traveled out to the Boston Scientific Coyol site, where I went on line tours to see the manufacturing process. Simply put, it was incredible to see the discipline and the production of such complex medical devices under one roof. That really only left two days in the Heredia site where I am supposed to be, but being flexible is part of the job description, right?

Invenio team!

 

You learn anything really cool this week?

Have you ever heard of packaging engineering? Maybe you have, maybe you haven’t, but it is by far the coolest thing I learned this week. It is often overshadowed by other medical device engineering departments such as R&D and manufacturing, but it is crucial for the success of any company when dealing with the consumer. We all know how frustrating it is to open plastic clamshell cases without scissors, or even packages from Amazon without a key to slice the tape. My point is that in the medical device industry, fumbling with a device because of the packaging can be critical during a procedure, and so packaging engineering ensures that there is a smooth transition for the consumer during use. This includes all factors, ranging from aesthetic quality and ease of opening to ensuring product sterility and transfer from the production end. Packaging engineers focus on customer experience, as the package is the first thing physicians or patients see prior to using a device. In some cases, a difficult package may just dissuade a nurse from using the product again, so if you thought this was unimportant, just remember that every interaction matters.

How frustrating is it when you can’t open something on the packaging??

 

But Chan, what do you do during your short periods of free time?

Yes, we can still have fun. Whether it is a cooking competition, or just exploring the city, we find time in the end.

This is a video I put together (during my free time) of our trip to Bajos del Toro last weekend (also during our free time)!

This past weekend we visited a dog sanctuary, a chocolate festival, and even hiked in Escazu where a “small hike” turned into an uphill battle with nature. Overall, pretty busy weekend! Looking forward to the next. Pura Vida.

Hey Josh, you okay?

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