Making Progress

In last week’s blog, I discussed my “revelatory” moment and its effect on my mentality toward the medical guidewire fixture I started designing.  Since then, I’ve made quite a bit of progress and have several updates I’d like to share.  In my attempt to make this information more digestible and interesting (and to improve my ability to write concisely yet accurately), I’m going to try writing this in short sections.  Here goes!

Medical Guidewires: Fixture Design

As I mentioned previously, Jeff, my supervisor, has asked me to design a fixture to hold guidewire segments as they proceed through a manufacturing process.  While I would love to discuss the purpose and details of this in greater detail, I am unable to do so.  However, I can certainly talk about my work from a more general point of view!

Essentially, this physical structure must hold a designated number of long, skinny guidewires in a taut position, and it must accommodate a range of guidewire lengths.  One of the recent challenges I overcame was learning how to create screw holes in the fixture SolidWorks (that might sound straightforward, but it was new for me!).  Fortunately, Steven, my intern buddy (who has more experience with SolidWorks than me), offered to sit down with me and walk me through the process of utilizing the Hole Wizard to implement #14 screw holes in the design.

Another challenge (one that I’m still working to overcome) has been thinking of a way to adjust the fixture height.  Oddly enough, this task reminded me of a dog I walked in D.C. last year.  The dog was always kept in its owner’s kitchen with a gate that could be adjusted via a simple clamp mechanism.  After I did some thorough Googling, I found the exact model of this gate online and studied its clamping mechanism.  Now, I’m attempting to replicate the mechanism in SolidWorks to make the fixture adjustable!  I am hopeful that this will succeed, but as I pointed out in my blog last week… failure is okay!  With all of that said, more updates on this project will come soon.

Medical Guidewires: Gas or Electric?

After a certain point in my fixture design endeavors, I figured it’d be beneficial to have something else to switch back and forth with so I can keep my focus and energy levels at their peaks.  I asked Jeff if he needed any other help with the guidewire manufacturing process development, and lo and behold, I now have another project!  For at least these next few days, I will be evaluating the pros and cons of using gas vs. electric ovens in the manufacturing process.  I’ve contacted both a chemical engineer and an industrial engineer at BSC to gain more information, and I’ve done quite a bit of research on my own.  I plan on meeting with Jeff by the end of the week to present my findings and hope they will be useful!

Me at my cubicle, casually researching industrial-strength ovens

Production Lines: Observing and Learning

In addition to the guidewire-related projects described above, another productive experience I’ve had at BSC is accompanying my Exploratory coworkers to the site’s four cleanrooms to observe the production of devices.  The two I’ve witnessed the most are the gastrointestinal forceps (which I’ve mentioned in previous entries) and the guidewires.  I’ve also had the chance to see sphinctertomes, snares, stents, and others.  At times, I have simply stood and observed the workers as they perform actions like soldering, gluing, laser cutting, and more.  Other times, my coworkers have been generous enough to give me extensive walk-through tutorials (some of which have been entirely in Spanish!).  I am really glad to have this experience, since I genuinely believe it will help me understand how medical device production happens.  As they say in Costa Rica, “pura vida!”

Weekend Adventures: Arenal Volcano, Baldi Hot Springs, and Rio Fortuna Waterfall

Once again, our group took time over the weekend to explore Costa Rica’s natural beauty.  We left for the town of La Fortuna on Friday, which sits right below the country’s youngest volcano: Arenal.  In addition to to the volcano, La Fortuna offers a plethora of options for hiking or kayaking through the rainforest, and there are also a number of hot springs where people can swim and relax.  Our group did all three of these, which made for quite a worthwhile (albeit a little tiring) weekend!  My favorite part was hiking at the Rio Fortuna Waterfall on Sunday.  Immediately after entering the park that encompasses the waterfall, guests arrive at a look-out point with a stunning view of the waterfall tumbling over an emerald green cliff.  They then can hike down 500 stairs (yes, 500) to see the bottom of the waterfall and swim in a section of the river.  The entire experience was breathtaking and beautiful.

I think this sums up everything that went on this past week.  I hope you enjoyed reading, and please enjoy these photos from our trip to La Fortuna!

The GMI ’19 crew (minus Paula) embarking on the treacherous journey to Arenal Volcano. From left to right: Drew, Razi, Annie, Hannah, Sarah, Theresa, Christine, Sylvie, Carolyne, and me. Photo credits: Freddy the bus driver.

A gorgeous view of the Rio Fortuna Waterfall

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