Diving Deeper

Last week was exciting because Annie and I got to dive deeper into our test method project for the guidewire. We found the perfect testing material from a company called SynDaver Labs (check it out here; it’s super cool). They make synthetic tissues, body parts, and whole cadavers to serve as a training and educational tool. Although we are not sure what exactly is used to make these models, they are based on water, salt, and fiber. We had been looking for a material that had similar mechanical properties to veins, and SynDaver makes a venous tissue that is validated to be very similar to real tissue. We shared these findings with our team, and they were equally as enthused as we were. We ordered the material and are looking forward to continuing to develop our test method. This week, our team is in Maple Grove participating in animal testing, and we are anxiously awaiting the results.

In addition to working on the test method, I also learned how to complete complaint analysis. One responsibility of the design assurance department is to manage customer complaints and make design changes to lower the complaint rate. I analyzed complaint data from the past year and created charts to clearly display which countries had the highest sales and highest complaint rates, among other things. I enjoyed learning a new skill, and I now understand the value in analyzing complaints to provide the best customer and patient experience. It is especially important, and sometimes difficult, to understand the reason for complaints and to decipher if it is a design flaw, unclear directions for use, or a clinical use error which is causing the problem.

Things I learned last week:

  • It is very difficult to find data on the mechanical properties of human venous tissue
  • Many materials used as a substitute for human tissue in tests are not clinically validated (for example, aluminum foil)
  • Physicians do not always follow the directions for use for a product, and this must be kept in mind when managing complaints

As for the weekend, we traveled to Arenal Volcano, La Fortuna hot springs, and the La Fortuna waterfall. On Saturday morning, we hiked about five miles near the volcano, then enjoyed a soak at Baldi Hot Springs in the evening. On Sunday, we traveled to the waterfall and hiked up and down 500 steps to take in the natural beauty. We stayed at a great Airbnb called the Sleeping Indian, which was colorfully painted with a tribute to The Beatles, and featured an indoor hammock, fun lights, and a variety of artwork. At a restaurant down the street called the Lava Lounge, I got to meet some really cute dogs, which was arguably the highlight of my weekend.

La Fortuna Waterfall

Part of The Beatles Mural

Our very athletic group of engineers attempting to take a jumping picture

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Hikes ‘n Hot Springs

Establishment Labs has a very good internship structure, and for that reason, we have received many interns from Costa Rican and American Universities throughout the summer. This morning a new intern toured our offices and looked at Christine and me like we were tenured employees -a pretty jarring experience, as we’ve only been here a month. Then again, we’re starting week #5 and we have, surprisingly, fallen into the swing of things very comfortably. Because this is week five, we’ve also published enough blog and personal social media posts that many people know we’re currently doing an internship in Costa Rica and are curious about what we’re actually doing here. I still haven’t found a particularly good answer to this question, as most things I work on are device design, development, and research. All being fields that are surprisingly secretive. Competing companies are trying their best to make their product lines better than one another, which is why we try to keep everything we’re working on so hush-hush. That being said, we’re working on some very cool projects!

What I can say about my project is that I’m working on Class III medical device design (but if you’ve been keeping up with the blogs, you know that by now). The art of telling somebody about your work in the Research and Development department is a tricky one: you need to outline enough detail so that people know you’re not just twiddling your thumbs all day, but not so much that you breach your strict non-disclosure agreements. Over the past week, we have been in the process of reviewing pre-clinical reports for various devices. Thankfully, the FDA  has very strict rules when it comes to animal trials, and no fewer than an infinite amount of reading material on the subject, so there is never a dull moment when it comes to learning how to outline such a trial!

Now that the summer is officially well into its second “semester”, we are also beginning to think about our implementation projects for the year. I will be on the team helping to develop and implement the Consultika app here in Costa Rica, so Sarah, Ahmad, Hannah and I took a short break from work on Friday to meet with our local Costa Rican contact (and GMI alumni) to discuss the project. We spent the entire morning breaking down the Costa Rican healthcare system, how it differs from many other countries, and the pitfalls one should avoid when trying to bring clinical trials here. It’s a daunting task, but we’re looking forward to researching it more in depth this week.

Our cohort seems to have had a healthy balance of Coast vs Altitude when it comes to our weekend adventures. This past weekend we opted for the latter and headed to La Fortuna, a town near Arenal National Park (home to the famous Volcan Arenal aka Arenal Volcano). We kicked off early Saturday morning with heading to the national park. The most embarrassing thing I’ve done so far on this trip was forgetting to pack an umbrella and rain jacket, even though I knew I’d be living in Latin America during the rainy season, but I have since acquired one and am (finally) prepared for the weather! We started our trek up to Volcan Arenal on Saturday morning where the weather fluctuated between sunny and hot and down-pouring and humid. After about 30 minutes of taking our rain gear on and off to either cool down or cover up, the climate decided on a healthy downpour WHILE STILL BEING hot and sunny for another 30 minutes. It was a beautiful hike, so beautiful, in fact, that a few of us were too entranced with looking for sloths and getting lost in nature that we (quite literally) got lost and wandered away from the group. We ended up arriving at the cooled-20-year-old-magma flow way before the rest of the group, where we took a much-needed break to admire the volcano and its lake.

Hiking through the jungle of Volcan Arenal- see if you can spot the sloth! 😉

Hannah and me at the top of the Volcano

After a hot and sweaty morning of national-park exploring, we decided to experience nature in a much more comfortable atmosphere. Many local resorts have capitalized on the fact that they are near a volcano, and its subsequent geothermal energy, and have created a pseudo-waterpark out of the available hot springs. There were varying temperatures of pools, 75 F, 87 F and 110 F and countless natural cave saunas. The best way I can describe the hottest pool is having you imagine getting in a hot bath. It’s the same temperature that makes you think “wow this is hot, but it will cool down in a minute to a perfect temperature and then I’ll be chillin’” except it doesn’t cool down and you slowly boil alive, which was perfect for our sore, muddy muscles! What was not good for our muscles (or any other bone in our body), however, was the water slides that definitely do not abide by any standard of water slide in the USA. In big waterparks back home you think “wow this is high up/ wow this is fast, but I know there is a regulatory agency that is present to ensure my safety so I’m just going to enjoy the ride” but here you think “haha this is fun… hey, we’re going kind of fast don’t you think… Ow, my entire body was just violently bashed the other side of the slide again.” and then it finishes with feelings of sheer terror until you inevitably end up flipping out of the end of the slide, hydroplaning for 15 feet, and eventually sink to the bottom bruised and disheveled. We finished off this relaxing weekend by hiking 500+ steps down to a waterfall and, of course, 500+ back up to the bus on Sunday morning -effectively tightening all the muscles we spent the past evening relaxing at the hot springs. All in all, it was a solid adventure and I would do all of it again but for now, back to work!

The view of the Costa Rican countryside on the way to La Fortuna

500 leagues (steps) under the sea (waterfall)

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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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Quality as an Iterative Process

Another whirlwind week at Establishment Labs comes to a close. Things ramped up fast, as I embark on creating a design process that meets regulatory requirements of various countries. It must adhere to the regulations of various countries. Thankfully, standards such as ISO exist, allowing for easy cross-compatability with other countries’ regulations. It’s only easy, of course, if ISO standards were easy. But the tome that is the ISO standard has numerous guidelines for medical devices, and the design process is no exception. These guidelines are not strict measurements of tangible objects, but rather prescriptions for checkpoints along the design process. From conception to testing to refining to in the wild, medical product design needs to have rigorous documentation. The focus is ensuring if the design process is executed well and on target. In other words: did we do the thing right? Does the product fulfill the intended goals? And did we do the right thing? Does the product solve the problem correctly? To prove this focus for regulatory agencies, medical device companies have designers and managers check things at every step of the design process.

This took me by surprise. In the past, when I thought about standards, they seemed like one-dimensional hoops companies had to jump through to satisfy basic safety requirements. But if you really think about it, there’s no reason why standards shouldn’t be applied to processes such as design. Should a heart valve be developed through sheer guesswork? Or should there be a methodical approach to it? And shouldn’t the methods be expected of all medical device companies? Quality is not just in the final product, as I learned. It’s in how the product was made as well. Failing to plan is planning to fail.

It’s a lesson that I’ll carry over to my implementation project, the exciting Consultika project. During the academic year, I, along with a few of my distinguished GMIers, will be working to implement this secure messaging service for Costa Rican doctors in order to better protect patient privacy. We’ll set into motion a solution crafted by GMI cohorts before us. So how does quality play into that? Although I have had my fair share of hacked together solutions in my life, implementing a service to be used as an aid for medical care would require that each step of the process is deliberate. We need to ask ourselves plenty of questions: What are our goals? How do we plan to achieve them? Did we achieve them? Does our implementation fulfill the identified need? Whilst asking ourselves these questions, we also need to document our answers to show to ourselves and to others that we are creating a service that safely and effectively helps patients.

In the end, it’s all about the patients. You only get out what you put in. To get a quality medical device, we need to put in quality work, every step of the way.

Hospital Enrique Baltodano, Liberia, Guanacaste, Costa Rica

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Keeping up the Momentum

Boston Scientific Project Update 

  • New Acquisition

I’ve defined several previously unidentified components and vendors for Boston Scientific’s newly acquired product. My main goal is to complete the Supplier Definition Form in order to submit it to the Supplier Director and Buyers. This acquisition has a very aggressive timeline as its anticipated release to market date is January 2019. In light of this, there is no time to find more inexpensive and local vendors. This is known as a TAI (transfer as is) project.

  • Ureteral Stent

After talking with Boston Scientific’s materials experts and some vendor R&D teams, we decided to redefine our design specifications. We discovered that our desired application is extremely novel and therefore none of our suppliers have an existing material. Therefore, we are planning on experimenting with additives and blends in order to change the physical prorates of the material. In the coming weeks, I plan on working closely with Process Development engineers during the prototyping phase and continuing to research potential vendors we could use during the production phase.

  • Biopsy Jaw

I’ve examined the biopsy jaw’s closing and opening mechanism and determined the mechanical problem. In order to better understand the device’s functionality, I assisted with the assembly process of the biopsy jaw device. In the coming weeks, I will use the device drawings to precisely calculate the alterations the R&D team needs to implement in order to ensure full closure of the jaws. In addition, I assembled and tensile tested the adhesion efficiency of a problematic connection within this device. This connection needs to withstand 15 pounds and right now it can only withstand around 11 pounds. I plan on performing other tensile tests on the problematic connection using various loctite glues.

Tracking Progress

I’ve found it difficult to record my progress and completion of tasks because most of my work is recording over email with my various supervisors. As I’ve made more and more progress on my projects, the disorganization of my work flow has become more and more apparent. To keep up this momentum in an organized fashion, I’ve created a Weekly Assignment document which outlines my past accomplishments and future goals every week. On top of organizing my schedule, I plan to present this to my supervisor during our weekly meetings to help him evaluate my work.

While talking to my colleagues I found that they all initially had trouble keeping track of their progress and had to develop their own methods. I can’t help but think that Boston Scientific would run much smoother if they had a more intuitive database to upload, edit and share documents…

La Fortuna

This weekend a group of us spent two nights in La Fortuna. We explored some very muddy trails around Arenal Volcano, which is the youngest and most recently active volcano in Costa Rica (don’t worry Mum and Dad, the last eruption was 20 years ago). We then relaxed our muscles in the Baldi hot springs until dark. Sunday morning, we did some frantic souvenir shopping at the hand-crafted stores and explored a 75-meter waterfall. I have really enjoyed exploring Costa Rica during the weekends and I can’t believe we only have three more weekends! It’s strange to think that we are leaving in less than a month!!!

We walked up and down 500 stairs to swim close to the La Fortuna waterfall.

This week I began running in the mornings before work and I am always greeted by this curious cow.

 

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Visually Exploring Risk Analysis

Visually presenting data was the main focus of this week. On the supply risk matrix I redesigned a graph showing the breakdown of our risks and if the risks were unassigned or who they were assigned to within our department for support. By adding both numbers and percents to the graph I was able to quantify the data and this helped me see that percents can be ambiguous without a set amount of numbers attached to them. Redesigning this helped me see that how the data was presented mattered, and I hope to present ideas on other graphs that could be utilized to my supervisor this week. I also helped my coworker with creating graphs to show how many engineers we needed to keep up with our supply risk workload based on past data. We utilized the supply risk matrix to create this graph and compared how our workload would change month to month if we had 2 versus 5 engineers on our team. I was able to help make sure the data that was calculated was accurate and presented in a way that was easily interpretable for someone not familiar with the data. This experience helped to show me that I have the skill set needed to create graphs that extract data from other sources in order to show it visually. 

I also finalized my SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, timely) goals for the internship this week. I created a powerpoint with them to visually show them and split them into 3 categories: overall internship goals, supply risk matrix goals, and my project goals. Having these goals in an easily presentable form helped to facilitate the meeting with my supervisor about them. I found that talking with my supervisor about my goals really helped me communicate to them what I wanted to get out of this internship and they were able to guide me in the direction of how I could achieve each goal and modify the goals I had set. Additionally, by talking over my goals with my supervisor he inspired another goal which I would not have thought of on my own. My goals focus on getting the most out of the internship medically, design wise, and making information accessible for non-native Spanish speakers. The medical and design aspects I knew I wanted to focus on coming into this internship, but I learned how important communicating information in another language can be and added this third aspect after a couple weeks here in my internship. I continued to see this week how visual communication is better as a communication tool across languages as well as setting goals and discussing them can lead to new directions and information!

Over the weekend we traveled to Arenal Volcano and La Fortuna. We hiked on the base of the volcano and sadly could not see much of it as it was covered by clouds, but the experience of hiking in a rainforest was incredible. We also went to the largest hot springs in the world and I loved relaxing in naturally warm water and going down water slides. It was a great trip to reset for another week of the internship. 

Arenal National Park Group Photo

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Y ahora, algo un poco diferente (ESPAÑOL)

This week’s blog was brought to you by copious amounts of translating and conjugations via Spanishdict.com. Feel free to plug this directly into Google Translate or read the English version HERE. Next week will be in English again, I promise.

¡Hola a todos! No puedo creer que estemos en Costa Rica por un mes. Hace casi un mes desde escribí mis SMART Goals, así que está un buen tiempo para reflejar un poco a uno en específico. Uno de mis objetivos era aprender más español, y necesito ser honesto conmigo mismo. En realidad, yo practiqué un poco cada día con mis compañeros, pero tan pronto como no sabía una palabra, yo inmediatamente regresé a hablar en inglés. Para mí, ha sido un hábito malo por cada idioma que yo aprendo. Mi español no es muy malo, pero no es bueno tampoco. Hace dos años largos desde tomé una clase de español, y no recuerdo mucho además de lo básico.

Usted probamente está preguntando porqué esta publicación está completamente en español. Pues, me sentí culpable describirlo esta experiencia en inglés. Así, esta es mi castigo buen oportunidad para práctica y compensación porque no di suficiente esfuerzo en el mes pasado. Mi objetivo es hablar con más fluencia por agosto, y solamente tiene uno mes más. Esta publicación está siendo escrito primero en español sin usando traductores a menos que absolutamente necesario (actualización: fue muy necesario). En el fin, voy a copiar todos a Google Translate para verificar. Yo leí en línea que uno del mejor metódicos para aprender un idioma es escribir cada día sobre tu día. De esta manera, puede usar un vocabulario que aplica a tu vida normal, en especifico para ti. Escribir es mi parte favorito de aprender un idioma porque es tiempo valioso para formar frases cuidadosamente y pensativamente, así como buscar algos que no sé. En el primero, quería hacer este método, pero fui perezosa. Hay muchos metódicos más para practicar un idioma, incluyendo hablando con hispanohablantes, leyendo periódicos, viendo la televisión, o escuchando música (que mi compañero de trabajo me recomendó). ¿Muchas de estas parecen obvios, pero por qué yo no lo hago?

Un poco es para evitar momentos torpes y embarazosos, pero si estoy con personas amables que me quieren aprender, no tengo nada para perder. Para aprender un idioma, necesita tener coraje y mucha, mucha motivación. Esta publicación es mi afirmación público y promesa a mí mismo a practicar más activamente.

Hay muchas razones que quiero aprender español, pero ahora es porque mis compañeros de trabajo están tomando el tiempo para hablar conmigo en inglés, aunque si es difícil e imperfecto. Yo puedo hacer mi parte a hablar en español también. Sera difícil al principio, y seguirá siendo difícil de diferentes maneras a medida que sigo aprendido, y esto es algo que voy a tener que lidiar. En el futuro, quiero trabajar en ingeniería para diseñar dispositivos medicales cerca del mundo, y también a casa en los Estados. Parafraseando (mucho, porque hace dos meses que yo escuché su discurso) a ex astronauta Dra. Ellen Baker, “Desde el espacio, el planeta Tierra no tiene fronteras visibles, y tampoco deberíamos.” Yo no permitiré idiomas ser una barrera para mí para compartir costumbres, pensamientos, e ideas con otros. En el mundo de hoy, esto es lo más importante.


Three beaches in Guanacaste:

  • Playa Tamarindo

  • Playa Brasilito

  • Playa Conchal

Bonus: Week 5 Exotic Fruit Bingo: Manzana de agua (water apple): The description is in the name. Also referred to as the rose apple or java apple, this bell-shaped fruit has a waxy red exterior that tastes faintly floral and a crisp, white inside. If an Asian pear didn’t have a gritty texture, this is what it’d be most similar to in both taste and texture.

Also from Feria Escazú

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This is the English version of my blog post.

Hi everyone! I can’t believe we’ve been in Costa Rica for a month. It’s been almost a month since I wrote my SMART Goals, so now’s a good time to reflect a bit on a specific one. One of my goals was to learn more Spanish, and I need to be honest with myself. In reality, I practiced a little each day with my friends, but as soon as I didn’t know a word, I immediately went back to speaking in English. For me, it has been a bad habit for every language I learn. My Spanish is not bad, but it’s not good either. It’s been two long years since I took a Spanish class, and I don’t remember much besides the basics.

You’re probably asking why this blog is completely in Spanish. Well, I felt guilty describing this experience in English. So, this is my punishment good opportunity for practice and compensation because I didn’t put in enough effort this past month. My goal is to talk more fluently by August, and I only have one more month. This blog is being written first in Spanish without using translators unless absolutely necessary (update: it was very necessary). In the end, I will copy all to Google Translate to verify. I read online that one of the best methods to learn a language is to write every day about your day. This way, you can use a vocabulary that applies to your normal life, specifically for you. Writing is my favorite part of learning a language because it is a valuable time to form sentences carefully and thoughtfully, as well as to look for some things I do not know. At first, I wanted to do this method, but I was lazy. There are many more methods to practice a language, including speaking with Spanish speakers, reading newspapers, watching television, or listening to music (which my co-worker recommended to me). Many of these seem obvious, but why don’t I do it?

A little is because I’m avoiding awkward and embarrassing moments, but if I’m with kind people who want me to learn, then I have nothing to lose. To learn a language, you need to have courage and a lot of motivation. This publication is my public affirmation and promise to myself to practice more actively.

There are many reasons I want to learn Spanish, but now it’s because my co-workers are taking the time to talk to me in English, although it’s difficult and imperfect. I can do my part to speak in Spanish, too. It will be difficult at first, and it will continue to be difficult in different ways as I continue to learn, and this is just something that I’ll have to deal with. In the future, I want to work in engineering to design medical devices around the world, and also at home in the States. Paraphrasing (a lot, because I listened to her speech two months ago) former astronaut Dr. Ellen Baker, “From space, the planet Earth has no visible borders, and nor should we.” I will not allow languages ​​to be a barrier for me to share customs, thoughts, and ideas with others. In today’s world, this is most important.

Click here to return to the original blog post.

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Surf’s Up

**How are we halfway through our time in Costa Rica?!**

This past week was spent primarily on the test method development project for the modified guidewire design. I am working with 1 engineer from R&D, 2 engineers from Design Assurance, and Sarah (also DA). We have also already reached out to colleagues in the CAD design and mechanical testing departments to get input on the project. I love seeing how many departments and types of engineers come together to make projects successful. So far, we have completed most of the background research and come up with a loose plan for the next 5 weeks. We currently have 3 basic approaches to validating the safety of the modified guidewire:

  1. Equation modeling
  2. Human testing
  3. Universal Testing Machine

Each method allows us to effectively evaluate the new design, so we just have to continue getting inputs from different people, analyzing the research, and considering the needed resources in order to pick the best path. Another really interesting takeaway from last week was from a meeting with a coworker about the differences between U.S. and Costa Rican universities. While taking time off to co-op is normal in the U.S., I learned it is abundantly more common in Costa Rica (even required by a lot of schools). I also learned how lucky I was to have a year-long senior capstone project sponsored by a large company. During capstone, we had the opportunity to take advantage of all resources from industry and from my university. This is not as common in Costa Rica.

In addition to completing my project, increasing my networking skills was one of my major goals for the summer. I know I struggle in this area, but it is so important to have confidence in connecting with other professionals in the field. To work on this, I have made it a point to set up short meetings with people across different departments to chat about their jobs and backgrounds. I have already learned a ton about what people in R&D do and the different paths they took to get there. I hope to leave the summer with a clearer insight on what type of career I’d like to pursue. I’m still not sure yet, but I think I’ll have it a bit more figured out with the help of these meetings.

Post-surfing during high tide

Another valuable thing I learned this week is that if you can’t do more than 2 push-ups in a row, you definitely cannot surf for 2 hours during high tide. I unfortunately learned this the hard way (and have many bumps and bruises to prove it) but I still had a blast trying! We went to Tamarindo beach this weekend, and it was the picture of paradise. We spent Saturday laying on the beach, going to farmers’ markets, and learning to surf. It was very challenging, but everyone was able to stand up and ride a wave by the end! On Sunday, we went to Playa Conchal. The shore was covered in tiny shells instead of sand and the water was a beautiful clear blue. We had delicious food and no one got severely sunburned, so I’d say all-in-all a pretty perfect weekend!

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First Big Task

This week was another week of working hard and learning a lot at my internship. I finished my first big task, which was to correlate the product specifications, to the test methods, to the design verification evidence for the Renegade and Direxion microcatheter families that are being transferred from Cork, Ireland. I also continued working on the test method project for the lead placement guidewire. I read quite a few papers about characterizing different properties of guidewires, including tip shape and lubricity. I also read through some clinical studies which described how optimized lead placement is correlated with better patient outcomes. The guidewire that Annie and I are working with is used to facilitate proper lead placement, which is why these clinical studies were applicable to our project. We will continue to work on this project and will have meetings with several other BSC employees next week to get their input on the test method options.

Annie and I also had a meeting with one of the R&D engineers to talk about the relationships between companies and universities in the United States. We concluded that in Costa Rica, there is a larger focus on taking time off of school to gain industry experience, and that the U.S. is more focused on completing research while attending college. While both are important, I like that Costa Rica has a stronger focus on getting the students experience in industry before they graduate. I think it is really important to get that sort of perspective before graduating and finding a job.

Over the weekend, we traveled to a few beaches in Tamarindo. Playa Conchal was especially beautiful, with shells for sand and crystal clear water. I got sunburned, but had a lot of fun. It was a very relaxing weekend spent in the warm Costa Rican sun.

Playa Conchale, Guanacaste, Costa Rica

GMI Group Dinner at the Airbnb

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