A Summer at Edwards Lifesciences: Quality Engineering Intern Kristianna Jones Reports

Kristianna doing the signature Edwards’ heart hand sign outside on of the testing labs

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.

Kristianna Jones outside the Irvine Campus during her first week at her internship

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.


“An Incredible Opportunity”: Undergraduate Tasha Repella on Studying Abroad in Sydney

Tasha Repella snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef with a large wrasse fish

Tasha Repella is a biomedical engineering student at the University of Arkansas. In early 2018, she spent five months studying abroad in Sydney, Australia. Below, she reflects on her experiences and discusses what she’s learned:

A year ago, if someone had told me I would be sitting in Sydney, Australia, writing about the last five months I spent in one of the most beautiful countries, I wouldn’t dare believe them. Looking back at this semester, I am so humbled by such an incredible opportunity I was given and the valuable lessons that helped shape me.

Because Australia is in the southern hemisphere, the seasons there are opposite from the U.S., so their school year doesn’t begin until March, which is late summer for them. So at the end of February, I took a leap of faith, and I boarded a plane headed for Sydney. I was thrilled, but the nerves also stuck with me. While I have grown up with a deep love for travel, I knew that leaving the comfort of my Fayetteville community of three years would be tough, but it was the best thing I have ever done.


A Summer with Mission of Hope: Undergraduate Brandon Moritz on Living and Working in Haiti

Brandon Moritz with the translators he worked with in Haiti

Brandon Moritz is a biomedical engineering student at the University of Arkansas. During the summer of 2017, he spent three months as a Medical Intern with Mission of Hope, Haiti. Below, he describes the experience and discusses what he learned:

This past summer I had the opportunity to live and serve in Haiti for three months. I was hired as a Medical Intern with Mission of Hope, Haiti to assist with operations and execution of their healthcare system in the region. Along with other Medical Interns and our Mobile Medical Clinic Director, Lauren Raschke, we led doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals from all over North America in providing healthcare to 18 different villages in our region of Haiti. We saw 5,400 people in the region through mobile clinics alone during my time there.

Moritz working in the pharmacy during a mobile clinic

I also was able to use my biomedical engineering knowledge to assist our Haitian prosthetist in the Prosthetics of Hope lab. Some men and women came in who still hadn’t walked since the devastating earthquake that occurred back in 2010 that cost them their leg, but some of my most rewarding work came from seeing people who hadn’t walked in years be able to take their first steps without the assistance of a crutch for the first time.


On Studying Abroad in Australia: Gilman Scholar Megan Davidian on Scholarship Applications, Life Down Under, & More

Megan in front of the Sydney Opera House

Megan Davidian is a sophomore from Fayetteville, Arkansas majoring in biomedical engineering. She is currently studying abroad on a Gilman Scholarship at the University of Technology Sydney. Below, she discusses the scholarship application process and what she’s been up to in Australia so far. 

Since I am from Fayetteville, the University of Arkansas was in my backyard and it was the only school I applied to. I knew during my first semester here that I wanted to study abroad in Australia, and while researching programs I found out about the Gilman Scholarship—I came across it on the study abroad website.

In general, just applying and figuring out what classes I would take (and if I would be able to get credit for them) was a long and complicated process. I didn’t know for sure that I would be able to attend an Australian university and get transfer credit until August of my sophomore year. Once I got the final approval, it was time to apply for the Gilman Scholarship—I started the application process in September and it was due October 10th. While I found the application process very stressful, the study abroad office and Dr. Bryan Hill were happy to help and answer any questions I had.

While many of the questions on the application were straightforward, there was one multipart essay that required you to answer various questions about what you are studying, why you want to study abroad, how studying abroad will help you, and what challenges you have faced coming to this decision. Though writing this essay felt terrifying at first, I learned that once you start answering the questions in bullet form it becomes much easier to then figure out how to put them together as a coherent whole. In the future, I would recommend that anybody applying for the Gilman or other similar scholarships use the University’s Writing Support center. If it wasn’t for the gentleman there who helped me to better organize my essay and to provide stronger examples within it, I don’t think I would have received this scholarship.


A Stepping Stone Into the Field of Medicine: Saurabh Wagle on Studying Health Care in Puebla, Mexico

Wagle with his university medical class (left) and at El Hospital General Al Norte in Puebla, Mexico (right).

Saurabh Wagle is an undergraduate majoring in premed and biomedical engineering at the University of Arkansas. This past summer, he spent five weeks studying health care in Puebla, Mexico by by taking classes in Spanish medical terminology and shadowing at local hospitals. Below, he reports on his experience:

Studying abroad for the first time was an extremely nerve-wracking, yet exciting experience that I will never forget. As soon as I entered my terminal and saw my friends, I knew that this study abroad experience would be truly special. During the plane rides, I kept thinking about how all of the Spanish classes that I had taken and all of the times that I had practiced speaking in Spanish had finally come to this. In the end, it was simply incredible to have the opportunity to become fully immersed in a different culture and to be able to navigate through the city of Puebla using the Spanish speaking skills that I had previously acquired.


Researching Across the Pond: Jessica Perez Reports from the Harefield Heart Research Centre in London

Perez imaging with the confocal microscope

Jessica Perez is a master’s student in biomedical engineering here at the U of A. As part of a year abroad, she’s been given the opportunity to do research training at the Harefield Heart Science Centre, located in northwest London. Below, she reports on her experience:

My name is Jessica Perez, and I am currently a master’s student in the Biomedical Engineering Department with Dr. Kartik Balachandran as my graduate advisor. I had done undergraduate research with Dr. B when I was pursuing my Bachelor’s in Biomedical Engineering, and when I decided to do my master’s degree at the University of Arkansas, he took me on as one of his graduate students. However, this semester I have taken a break from schoolwork, and I am currently doing research training at Harefield Heart Science Centre in a little village in Northwest London.