BSc Hons Applied Biology and Biopharmaceutical Science
Design Assurance Engineer
Medtronic Cardiovascular Ltd
Favourite thing to do in science: Learn more about the world
About Me: I live in Galway in the countryside next to a farm.
It’s great to live here because I can have all of the benefits of living in the countryside in the quiet and seeing how the farm works but I don’t have to do any of the hard farm work. However, it’s not so fun when baby lambs escape from their field and eat my potted plants. To keep fit, I run, swim and cycle in my spare time, I also like to bake, read and do word puzzles. In the summertime I swim in the sea or a lake with my friends.
My Work: The company I work for makes medical devices for the human body. In Galway, in the part I work in, we work on devices for the heart. These devices help people when they have a heart attack.
My job is called a Quality Engineer, (Design Assurance) lots’ of people in different companies do this job and the job can be different in each company. The devices I work on are coronary drug eluting stents. The heart has its own individual blood supply of arteries and veins that supply the heart muscles which the heart needs to keep pumping. For a variety of reasons sometimes a build-up of plaque (fatty deposits in the blood) can happen to people. This build up can reduce the amount of blood that is supplied to the heart muscles and can cause a heart attack. A cardiologist will decide to implant a stent over this plaque which will push it out of the way and restore the blood flow. Once in place, the stent acts as a scaffold or a cage that allows the blood to flow through. In my job we work on new products and developing those. I am responsible for some documentation and also product testing, what parts of the device we should test and what the test tells us about that part of the device. I work alongside people that decide what materials are used to make the new device and how to test this material and also what the test tells us. There is a lot of work and it takes a few years to get a product through product development and onto the market. There are a few different stages involved and lots and lots of testing to prove that it is a good device and that it works like we are saying it works. We then have to put all the information that we have gathered together and then it is submitted to a regulatory agency who give the go ahead (or not) for the company to sell the device.
My Typical Day: All the team meet at 9am and chat about what is happening today, if we are making any devices today, what we will use them for and what testing we would like to do. The rest of the day is getting ready, having all of the things needed and working on all of that stuff.
Once the plan for the day or week is decided, I spend some time chatting to the people that test the product to see how everything is going, they will give me results and either myself or the person that asked for the testing will analyse the results. The analysis looks to see if the device passed the test or not, how well it passed or not, were the results similar or very different. A lot of this analysis is done using statistics. As part of product development we must share our results with the managers and explain what we are doing and what we are discovering about the device. If a part is not passing its test we must tell them and explain that more testing needs to be done. At certain stages of the project, this information must be documented officially and recorded in our company systems. I am responsible for some of these documents, for example, I need to know and be able to explain what the device does when it is being used by the doctor and how it should behave. These devices are made up of different types of material (mostly special plastics) that are joined together (bonded). This bonding can be done different ways to suit different materials. We must test these bonds and know the force required to break them- this is important and we must make them as strong as possible so that they don’t break when they are being used- we want the device to stay in one piece. The documents I write will have this information describing the part we tested and how the test results came out so we can recommend if more work is needed or if we can move on and test the next section. We will also have other documents that describe the device in other ways and what was done at different times so that at the end of the project we will have put together the complete story of how the device came into being.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Calm, helpful, patient
Who is your favourite singer or band?
What's your favourite food?
What is the most fun thing you've done?
Slides in waterparks
What did you want to be after you left school?
Laboratory worker/ scientist
Were you ever in trouble at school?
What was your favourite subject at school?
What or who inspired you to become a scientist?
my second class teacher when she brough us on nature walks and talked about photosynthesis.
If you weren't a scientist, what would you be?