Biomedical Device Development at the CARI Labs
As a second-year Biomedical Engineering Technology student, I was very lucky to have been able to secure a summer position as a research assistant with the MAKE+ research group at BCIT CARI. Working alongside the Product and Process Applied Research Team (PART), a group of researchers who conduct research projects and develop innovative devices for industrial clients, I was given the opportunity to contribute to the development of some innovative medical technologies.
Early in the summer, I worked on a new device to assist in navigating C-arm machines for X-ray capture. Essentially, it is a camera-based positioning system which aims to improve the accuracy involved in locating desired areas to be X-rayed, as the C-arm itself is large and difficult to maneuver. Testing involved mounting the device onto a C-arm machine at Vancouver General Hospital and verifying the accuracy of tests in the lab setting and the clinical setting.
I spent the latter half of the summer conducting tests on a component of a new device used in conjunction with a ventilator, which is a device that sustains breathing patterns in a patient who is incapable of breathing on their own. This was done with the assistance of "Robo-Lung", an automated motor-controlled syringe system developed by MAKE+ researchers that simulates airflow coming into and out of a patient. By programming and manipulating different variables into the system, we were able to closely examine the pressure changes that exist at various airflow rates at the interface between machine and patient.
Considering I only have about one year of education in this field, I was very fortunate to get the kind of exposure that I got with MAKE+. Everything that was assigned to me was very hands-on, and I felt confident in what I was doing because so much care was taken to ensure that I had a good understanding of the devices I was working with. I think that this is what sets CARI apart from other places—it prides itself on being part of an educational institution. All of my colleagues were more than happy to help with whatever I needed help with, and they were good at it too. It really does make a difference when the people you work with are also devoted to teaching their craft.
All in all, this was exactly the type of summer work I was hoping to get, and my first year in the Biomed program definitely prepared me well for it. This job also serves as an excellent basis for what I would like to do after graduation. Especially since the economy is still recovering, work experience like this is invaluable for soon-to-be graduates like myself. It is my hope that upon graduation, I will be able to find a niche for myself in a similar team environment so that I may pursue my passion for biomedical device research and development.