Camila Pagan is an undergraduate senior in the Biomedical Engineering (BME) department here at Georgia Tech. Originally from Puerto Rico, she went on a college tour and visited Georgia Tech as her last stop. While on her tour at Tech, she visited Whitaker, where she was impressed by how the classes applied math and science in creative and artistic ways. One prime example was in a design and iteration class, BMED 2310, where she saw the design of a prosthetic foot medical device. Camila realized biomedical engineering wasn’t just crunching numbers and rigid formulas; it combined creativity and problem solving skills. She thus interned several times at Boston Scientific, where she became familiar with the industrial side of BME.
After deciding to attend Georgia Tech, Camila found the BME curriculum improved her chances to score internships because it provided her with a diverse skill set. She could choose specific classes that would give her skills companies found relevant to their job opportunities. In particular, her background in material science and her design & prototyping knowledge from BMED 2310 and her Industrial Design (ID) minor enhanced the importance of product iterations. Additionally, BMED 3100 provided critical background in physiology, allowing her to have a better grasp on designing medical devices suitable for the human body. Camila feels the curriculum gave her a holistic perspective on medical products and how to apply her knowledge in different contexts.
Camila has had three internships while at Tech: one at Eli Lilly & Co. in Summer 2017, and the other two at Boston Scientific in Spring 2017 and Summer 2018. Camila worked at both the Indiana and Minnesota locations for Boston Scientific, providing her with diverse experiences. Her first contact with Boston Scientific was at the BME career fair, which provided her the opportunity to interview for an internship with them in Spring 2017. Two months later, a Boston Scientific employee called and offered her an internship position at their Spencer, Indiana location, which is a manufacturing site close to Indiana University Bloomington. According to Camila, “[she] just couldn’t say no to them.” She worked with them as a Process Engineer on the manufacturing floor to analyze various product builds.
As a Puerto Rico native fluent in Spanish, Camila was asked to work on unique tasks such as working as a translator on a line transfer between Indiana and Costa Rica. This involved handling communications between both countries as well as training people on the job and observing interactions between them as they worked on their projects. She also worked in the Research & Development department, where she worked on the usability of materials, devices, and medications. For instance, she worked to improve the user experience of an insulin pen. Through these opportunities, she was able to network with other employees, which led to an offer from Boston Scientific’s Minnesota site for another internship there.
At the Minnesota site, she worked on the manufacturing floor once again, analyzing the product development cycle and the process of iterating and taking products to manufacturing. These products mainly involved interventional cardiology, as opposed to the endoscopy products that her first internship taught her about. She worked closely with her managers and other employees to discuss how she would tackle a certain project and to learn about the product development process. Also, she met with her higher-ups, allowing her to visually express her progress and next objectives to her bosses. These meetings provided her with valuable feedback, helping her piece together her path forward. This work model was ideal for her, as she enjoyed working with mentors who were willing to give her guidance while still giving her space to work independently. Internships such as these allow students to prepare themselves for full-time positions in their desired field, which is exactly what Camila did. She received full-time offers from all three of her internships. She ultimately chose the Maple Grove, Minnesota location in order to work with a larger, more expansive product portfolio.
The most gratifying aspect of Camila’s internships was the final presentations, where she showcased all the work she had done, and obtained feedback from people she did not typically work with. Comments such as, “that was good work, we’ve been trying to get that to work” gave her satisfaction of knowing her work made an impact. She wanted each piece of her work to be valuable to at least one part of the product development life cycle, and this kind of feedback allowed her to see that first-hand. Furthermore, Camila enjoyed the little “aha” moments she had where she saw the tangible application of the BME curriculum in practical, real-life situations.
Moving forward, Camila’s goals are to strengthen her industry experience, possibly via graduate school, to represent minority groups that she is a part of (i.e. Hispanic and female engineers), and to give herself a challenging experience in whatever work she pursues. In this way, she can show people that no matter what their background, they can do quality work and make a positive impact on other people. Now that she has a full-time position at Boston Scientific lined up for herself, she wants to understand the company more and see where she can make the biggest possible impact on the industry. She would love to say that “a product [she] developed is saving X amount of people”, but she is still looking for the specific change she wants to create. Her internship experience has helped her learn more about the long-term path she wants to take forward and thankfully, she has mentors for guidance and support.
Her advice for anyone currently pursuing an internship is: “When talking to companies, be genuine about who you are and what you do. Show your eagerness to learn more about your potential job quickly.”
Someone will have to give you your first bit of real-life experience, and if you show that you’re eager to learn and develop yourself as a person, you will come off as a valuable asset to the company you want to work for. No matter what kind of occupation you wish to pursue within the biomedical industry, no matter what schools you attend or what classes you take, and no matter what research labs/co-ops/internships you land before graduation, always be ready to learn more and never stop learning.