Still learning..and having fun!

I’ve learned a lot since my last blog post, and I’ve had a lot of fun in the process.

I started auditing a class to learn AutoCAD, which is a really useful tool for communicating design ideas. I’ve always wanted to learn how to use CAD, so this seemed like the perfect opportunity. Tasha, Sanjana, and Chandler are also auditing the class, so we always seem to have a good time, even when we have no idea how to draw some of the designs. I also had the opportunity to take an Arduino FabShop at Rice to learn the basics of setting up the circuits and how to program the Arduino. I’m really glad I had this opportunity, and I hope I can continue to participate in more workshops to continue developing new skills.

My implementation project, TruVent, has been moving along, and we’re almost finished with our manuscript for publication, which will be a huge relief. We’ve also moved into the brainstorming and screening process for our second-generation prototype. Chandler and I hope to have a completed prototype by the end of the semester, which is just a short 3 weeks away (hard to believe—right?!). In order to reach that milestone, we will be doing extensive brainstorming, researching, and screening to narrow down our ideas to the ones that show the most promise. We will also begin low-fidelity prototyping to demonstrate our ideas and help us narrow them down to one that we will move forward with. Despite the short timeline, I’m excited to get to work and do some real designing, and it’ll be fun to create our designs, potentially using a 3D printer.

My other big project, which is focused on developing a device to detect retroperitoneal hemorrhage, has also continued to push forward. We’ve moved on to more of a business focus in the class now, which is definitely very interesting, but also challenging for me. I don’t know much about business models, financial models, and value propositions, so I’ve definitely had to rely on my MBA colleagues to explain a lot to me. Despite the difficulty in taking in so much new information in a short amount of time, I’m glad that we’ve had the opportunity to learn more about the business dynamics that come into play when developing a start-up company, especially since I’m interning for one right now and may work with a start-up after graduation in May.

As I mentioned in my last blog post, I’m interning for Multisensor Diagnostics, which is a start-up company working to develop a device to monitor patients with chronic illnesses from home. For the past few weeks, I’ve been doing interviews with clinicians that have chronic disease patients to get a feel for how they currently monitor their patients and how our device could help them. Getting clinician feedback is always helpful when designing a new device to take to market, because you want to make sure that it meets a need that they have and they will actually want to use it. Last week, I attended TMCx Demo Day, which is an event that allows the start-up companies in the TMCx program to present their pitches to investors. I really enjoyed the event, as I was able to finally meet my boss in person and learn more about the company and the device. All of the start-ups are doing really exciting work, and it made me think about working with a start-up after I graduate. I think it would be exciting to to make a huge impact in healthcare and learn so much in a short amount of time. Despite the risk that comes with working for a start-up, I think it may be a really great opportunity for me, and it would definitely push me out of my comfort zone.

At the end of October, we traveled to Austin to attend the SWE conference, which was a great opportunity to network with the big medtech companies and hear some dynamic speakers, including the VP of General Electric. I talked to people from Medtronic, Abbott, Boston Scientific, J&J, Stryker, Becton Dickinson, and Baxter, which was a really great and exhausting opportunity. I’ve also had the opportunity to continue observations and needs finding at TMC. Last week, I went to Texas Children’s Hospital and got to watch two pediatric urology surgeries, which was neat, but also a little sad. The kids are just so young—it breaks my heart.

Despite all of the work we do, we’ve also managed to have a good bit of fun these last several weeks. We watched the Astros win the world series, dressed up for Halloween (a few times), and squeezed in a few brunches. I’ve also continued to play volleyball on the weekends with some other grad students, which is always a nice homework break! Lastly, Siri and I have also still been volunteering with Houston Pets Alive, which has been a lot of fun.

We only have three weeks left to wrap up our work for the first semester. I can’t believe how quickly the time flew by. I’m definitely looking forward to some relaxation time at home, but for now, I’ll be pushing hard to finish up the semester strong.

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