Kristianna Jones is a biomedical engineering student at the University of Arkansas. During the summer of 2018, she was a Quality Engineering Intern for Edwards Lifesciences in Irvine, California. Below, she describes what a typical day was like, what surprised and impressed her, and what she took away from the internship:
This past summer I was fortunate enough to work as a Quality Engineering intern on the Pilot Operations team with Edwards Lifesciences! I got this amazing opportunity from attending the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) 44th National Convention this past March. My internship lasted for 10 weeks, May 21st through August 3rd, in Irvine, California and every day was like a brand-new adventure. Of course, working for one of the top medical device companies seemed a little nerve-wracking at first, but I was honestly a lot more prepared for industry than I originally thought.
As a quality engineering intern, I got to experience how they ensure the safety of each product before it was sent to the market. I learned how thorough the process is—from checking the quality of the raw goods to the checks built into the manufacturing process to the final inspections and tests conducted after the product is completed, everything is truly done with a “Patients First” mindset.
A typical day for me started at 7:30am with the daily manufacturing meeting. Even though I’m not a morning person at all, I always found these meetings interesting and insightful because I was able to get a quick overview on ALL of the transcatheter heart valve (THV) products, not just the one I was supporting. Besides the morning meeting, two days never really looked the same. One day, I even got to be a surgeon and implant an aortic valve into a pig heart! My manager was mostly hands-off besides our weekly one-on-ones, so I decided what I did on a daily basis and that just depended on what projects I needed to work on that day.
I got to work on a variety of different projects during my time with Edwards. I designed and executed a feasibility study to determine if an improvement I helped come up with would actually be effective at decreasing some of the failure rates they were seeing on a product (and it was!). I led the execution of an operational qualification (OQ) of the label printers they were using for most of their THV products. I even assisted on an investigation of adhesives that had a global impact on the company! However, my main project of the summer was authoring the installation qualification (IQ) document for the new Instrons they had gotten in one of their labs. An IQ ensures that the equipment works properly and is safe for Edwards’ employees to use. This project was really cool because I worked with the Instron in the Biomaterials lab offered here at the UofA, but this project allowed me to truly learn every component and see how each element could potentially affect the safety of the equipment. The work I did was then used to validate not only that Instron for production, but also all the new Instrons in multiple labs across the campus. I thought it was really cool how they let an intern work on a project that had such a large impact on the company as a whole.
Even though work was already fun and exciting, I also got to have many more adventures outside of work too. Edwards has a very relationship focused environment so they provided subsidized housing for me and the other 104 interns so we could all bond and get to know each other. We went on hikes, had bonfires, or just had movie nights and hung out by the pool/hot tub. I even went to Universal Studios Hollywood, Disneyland, the San Diego Zoo, Corgi Beach Day, the Orange County Fair and went to all the beaches Orange County had to offer!
Overall, working with Edwards Lifesciences was a truly amazing experience! The one thing that surprised me the most was how much statistics was actually used in industry. It was not a part of the curriculum when I started the BMEG program, so I’m really glad that it is now being required for incoming students. It was also really cool to see how useful and thorough the Cardiovascular Physiology & Devices class taught by Dr. Hanna Jensen really was. Because of that class, I was not only able to understand (almost) all of the terminology they used, but I was also able to voice my opinion on devices and understand where the technology is going in future. Hopefully, I will be a part of that future as a fulltime employee after I graduate!
– Kristianna Jones