In the back of all our minds while working on projects and going to class, there is always this looming thing called employment. We do the obvious things like applying online on job postings, reaching out to people through LinkedIn and talking to recruiters, but it is always nice to physically go to companies and meet people face-to-face. Some of the GMIers were able to travel to California in the past week, a trip that included stops at Intuitive Surgical, IDEO, GE Health and Medtronic. I’ll provide a quick recap on what stood out to me from these companies!
One of the most futuristic technologies within healthcare has been the implementation of robots within the surgical suite. No, there aren’t completely autonomous robots that make a physician obsolete, but rather systems that help physicians in improving the clinical outcomes of minimally invasive surgeries. One device that allows physicians to do this is called the da Vinci system. This multi-armed robot can allow physicians to grab, retract, cut and cauterize on the millimeter scale (which is normally not possible with human dexterity). The company that manufacturers these high-tech robots is Intuitive Surgical. They gave us a tour of the facility and talked to us about their products and career opportunities. We even got to play with the da Vinci system! The system was very intuitive to use (see what I did there?), and after playing with it for a few minutes, I felt comfortable using it. It was basically a $2 million-dollar version of those claw cranes that no one seems to win anything on.
One of the big facets of GMI is our focus on user-centered design. Here at Rice we attempt to do that, but after seeing the work being done at IDEO, you realize that there is so much more possibility with design than what we often constrain ourselves to. They are a design consultancy firm that does work with a variety of partners (Apple, Fender, Levi’s, HBO, eBay and even the U.S. Government). They have an open-space work space that is decorated with different projects they had worked on. It was reaffirming to see the great products that IDEO developed while instilling the human-centered design concept across their company. To see the intersection between great engineering work and great artistic ability was further confirmation in what I strive to be as an engineer.
GE Digital Health
The next stop on our trip was to GE’s Digital Health Bay Area location. Hannelle Fares, a former GMI student, gave us a tour of the facility and also gave us her experience and journey to GE. If there was one point that Hannelle really wanted to hammer home, it would be to keep persisting. She was a part of the rotational program at GE in which she cycled through a new position every 6 months. Her first rotation was in a software-heavy position and one that she did not have the expertise in. This meant that she had to take initiative on her own learning and projects. This eventually led her to be in a position to become a manager in her department as there was a void with a previous manager leaving. She got this position by being persistent and confident in her abilities. As a student looking from the outside-in, I really appreciated her honest perspective and experiences. Having that drive and motivation in tandem with great networking can really make all the difference, and Hannelle is proof of that.
The last voyage in California was to Medtronic’s Santa Rosa location. As much as I am a Texan at heart, I have to give it to Northern California on the scenery and weather. There were even a few Californians who apologized profusely for the day it rained a little while were there. I guess the Houstonians are to blame for that. About an hour north of the golden gate bridge was Medtronic. Having the Boston Scientific experience in the Summer allowed me to have these comparative goggles on while touring Medtronic. Both are giants within MedTech and both make a huge impact. One thing that I really enjoyed hearing was the perspectives of R&D engineers from Medtronic. They seemed genuinely enthusiastic about their work (which is always a good sign). This was also a great networking opportunity for us Rice students and who knows, you may even see some familiar faces working there in a few months.
Quite the Homecoming
Just as the trip seemed to be winding down, while we were waiting on our flight back to Houston, we happened to run into U.S. Olympian Bobsledder Sam McGuffie (who ironically is a Rice alum as well). Sam is actually the first Winter Olympian to hail from Rice and, needless to say, he got quite a warm reception upon our return to Houston. I mean, how much more can you really ask from a field trip, right?