Week 8: Accountability

We are halfway through the internship! This week, I spent more time on the production floor. We were performing a confirmation build for one of Boston Scientific’s new catheters. Our goal was to test different curing conditions in order to establish high, low, and nominal temperatures and cooking times for specific steps of the manufacturing process. I got a chance to see how this process works, including all of the preparation and documentation that leads up to the tests themselves. In order to run the test, the manufacturing team had to produce enough catheters ahead of time so that the test could be run without hindering production output. This meant running a shift overnight to produce three batches of catheters, that could then be tested continuously. Once this was completed, our team was able to test our product under the different conditions. The entire process involved a lot of coordination and communication between different departments.

One of the most interesting things I learned this week was how detailed and precise the documentation process is for manufacturing. As I learned last week, most of the production is done by hand. For each step, there is an instruction document that outlines how to do it in extreme detail. Many of the steps are followed by quality control tests, in which the user can access whether the device has been successfully assembled thus far. If a device doesn’t pass the quality test, it goes into a scrap pile. Each time a device is scrapped, the engineer who scraps it must document why the device couldn’t proceed to the next step. Every step is tracked so that the engineers who handle the device are held accountable.

At any successful company, accountability is key. Over the past few weeks, I’ve noticed the ways in which Boston Scientific incorporates methods to hold their employees accountable. At the end of every week, the Process Development department holds meetings in which one project team gets the floor and walks the whole department through what they have accomplished. There is a huge rolling whiteboard on which they list their goals, ideas, and deliverables. This is a really cool way that not only forces teams to monitor their work as their project progresses, but also gets the entire department involved.

One of the biggest things I’ve focused on this week is holding myself accountable. At a big company like Boston, and especially as an intern, a lot of the work that we are assigned is very open-ended. There’s no one keeping an eye on me to make sure I’m being productive, and I don’t have someone checking my work at every step to ensure I’m heading in the right direction. It’s my responsibility to make sure I’m taking the right steps, asking the right questions, and utilizing my resources. This week, with my boss out of town, I knew I had to make sure I was keeping on top of my goals. I delved deeper into my research, and asked for more opportunities to learn. At the end of the week, I was able to provide my recommendations for the next steps on the project, which I will get the chance to test out next week!

This weekend, we went to La Fortuna to see the Arenal Volcano! We relaxed in some hot springs, went on a hike through an inactive volcano, and took a boat ride through the lake. Arenal is one of the biggest tourist attractions in Costa Rica, and after hearing so much about it from many of the locals, it was exciting to experience it firsthand.

We only have three more weeks left at Boston Scientific, and in this beautiful country – I’m ready to make the most out of it!

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