Week 10: The Mindset of Improvement

With only a few days left in our internship, this week not only revolved around the work that needed to be done for fast-approaching deadlines, but also proved important for establishing a smooth transition post-internship. However, being in such a large medical device company outside the U.S. allowed for some unique experiences.

English Class 101

A few times a week, employees who are less comfortable speaking in English take classes to help accustom themselves in speaking it more fluently. An opportunity to help others speak a language that I was fluent in (which has been rare these last couple months) was one that I could not pass up. And so, the Rice students who were working at Coyol offered their help in conversing and correcting the students who wanted to sharpen their linguistic abilities. We first introduced ourselves, sharing what our interests were and where we came from. As Sanjana, Ryan and I are all from Texas, needless to say, the class was introduced to phrases such as “howdy”, “y’all” and “Dallas Cowboys”. As I explained American Football to them, you could tell that they were legitimately confused as to why it wasn’t call hand-egg or something similar. I cannot argue with that logic. The greatest part of this experience was not necessarily teaching whatever little we could in 45 minutes, but rather letting our fellow coworkers feel comfortable approaching us and having conversations (even if not perfect).

A Week’s Work

As I mentioned previously, there was much to do on the agenda to maintain our target date on deadlines. I do, however, want to stress that although I believe it is great to meet deadlines with certain goals in mind,  ultimately, I want to leave a larger impact with my work that will help the company past my time there. These are the goals that I had set out to accomplish for this week:

  1. Conduct further chemical coating testing on alternative variables
  2. Receive quotes and specifications on lubricity and durability equipment
  3. Prepare for post-internship transition

Viscosity Testing

With the current test methods for ureteral stents and drainage catheters, a few parameters such as humidity and isocyanate percentages are calculated for the coatings, however, the current metrics are not necessarily all-inclusive. In studying coating processes for guidewires, I noticed certain differences in the measuring process that might prove useful for stents as well. One measurement in specific was the measurement of viscosity. A viscometer (seen in the figure below) was used to calculate the time a fluid took to move from the start point to the end point. These time-values were then inserted into EXCEL to retrieve viscosity values. In conducting testing of our coatings using this methodology, we saw trends in our coating that were unfavorable (in comparison to the guidewire reference values). There are possible reasons as to why these discrepancies are soon, but perhaps more frequent testing could provide more insight.

How a Viscometer Works

L&D Equipment

One of the objectives from our initial meetings consisted of a way to improve the manual methodology used to measure lubricity and durability for stents and drainage catheters. To expedite this process, I began specification comparison between various products. After preliminary analysis, I arranged meetings with the sales directors for these companies. Understanding there are often varying criteria that are emphasized from company to company, we had to sit down and ensure that our parameters could be met with confidence. After talking to the representatives with our core team members, there a few key takeaways that I learned:

  1. Ask a multitude of questions (there is no such thing as too much information)
  2. Salesmen are good at their jobs, keep that in mind
  3. There are other factors to consider that may not be on a specification sheet (i.e warranty or lack thereof, availability of spare-parts, calibration/maintenance, lead times)
  4. Equipment can be a major investment, think of all the benefits and consequences

Post-Internship Preparation

Ending an internship is just as important as beginning one. I made it a priority to schedule exit-interviews with my supervisors so that I can understand what they thought about my quality of work. Whether the feedback is good or not, this information will undoubtedly help me in my professional career—ensuring that I am continually improving myself as an Engineer. Although it may uncomfortable to ask my supervisors what I could improve on, being my first time working in an industry setting, I know there are probably things that could be done better. I also want to make sure that the relationships I made at Boston Scientific continue past my time in Costa Rica. Networking is key in opening opportunities as an Engineer. It may not be my last time working with my fellow colleagues, and maintaining these relationships  may be important on projects to come.

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