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Career Story: Medical Device Engineer

Medical Device Engineer

Job Title: Principal Engineer

Type of Company: Currently my company produces a medical device that removes blood clots from people's arteries.

Education: BS, Worcester Polytechnic Institute •• MS, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Previous Experience: I started as a design analyst for Sikorsky aircraft and after six years became a research design supervisor for a commercial ultrasonics company.

Job Tasks: I am the principal designer and group leader for the medical device acoustic performance. I use computer finite element analysis to design an ultrasonics transducer that puts out the proper amplitude and frequency required by the device. I also lead a group of people that produces the drawings that describe this device and runs pre-clinical experiments that test it. The experiments that my group performs ensure that the ultrasonic device won't fail during use. We also run experiments to determine that the device properly removes blood clots. This involves running the device in actual blood that is clotted to check for the proper amount of removal.

I also develop the plan and lead a group of engineers through the process that qualifies this device through the FDA. In this process we make 50-100 of the devices in an actual manufacturing environment. We then perform testing to determine if the devices perform as expected.

A typical day might start with a morning meeting where the results of yesterday's experiment are reviewed. Following the meeting I would visit the engineers that are performing today's experiment to check on its progress. Later in the day I would plan the FDA program or the next series of experiments.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of the job is that there are many different things to do during a day. The different tasks are project planning, computer aided engineering analysis, computer design, leadership of other engineers, design of experiments, and the carrying out of experiments. I think the best part of the job is carrying out experiments on a new device to determine if it is operating properly. For this we use high tech equipment like laser vibrometers and oscilloscopes .

The worst part of the job is that there is often not enough time to do everything that needs to get done. This can get frustrating sometimes.

Job Tips: For proper preparation a full course of study in engineering would be appropriate. There is also additional training in specific software packages (like SolidWorks or ANSYS) that would be helpful for computer-aided design or computer-aided analysis.

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