One student engineers her future in biomedicine
“It was the coupling of my interests in physics and sport medicine,” reveals UTS Women in Engineering scholar, Elizabeth Si when asked why she chose to study the Bachelor of Biomedical Engineering Bachelor of Business Diploma in Engineering Practice. “I didn’t even know what to expect. It wasn’t until I started my internship that I realised there is a lot you can do with the degree.”
Elizabeth, now in her third year, is currently undertaking an internship at Chemtronics Biomedical Engineering, an operating division of the not-for-profit healthcare provider, Cabrini Health Limited. “I’m based out at St George Private Hospital, Kogarah. There is a site manager there and I help him with his daily tasks,” Elizabeth explains.
“We get calls from all departments of the hospital, asking to fix their medical devices. We also have a monthly preventive maintenance schedule, so I do a lot safety and performance testing. Say for example, I check whether syringe pumps are delivering the right amount of medicine to the patient by running it against the two testers, safety and performance, and if it passes the test I enter the details into the database.”
It is this practical side to working at Chemtronics that makes Elizabeth’s six-month internship invaluable. “In my course, I enjoy the diversity I get between engineering, science and business subjects. It always keeps me on my toes, and gives me a different perspective on things as well. With my internship, I get the hands-on experiences that we don’t necessarily pick up when we’re being taught at university. I love dealing with people and I like applying my technical skills to the tasks I get given.” Elizabeth adds, “My managers are also concerned about me learning and about getting work done.”
As a double degree student, Elizabeth is given the option to pick up the internship component, which she thinks is absolutely worth doing as it allows students to gain a better idea of what they see themselves doing later on down the track. It also gives students access to networking. Also the UTS Campus Coordinator for Engineers Australia, Elizabeth explains, “I didn’t apply to be the UTS Campus Coordinator for Engineers Australia; someone recommended me to the position and that was gained through networking.”
Elizabeth still has a few more years and another internship to undertake before she graduates, but she has already realised the potential of studying Biomedical Engineering. “You have a wide range of specialities to choose from and you get to help patients as well. So you have to understand the clinical side as well as the functional side, and you have to know how things affect the patients. With biomedical engineering, you can range from career in pharmaceuticals up to creating medical devices.”
So where does Elizabeth see herself in the future? “For me, at the moment, I’m considering going into nuclear medicine, as in cancer therapy and working a lot with radio pharmaceuticals. I have a passion for that as well, but that was only refined when I started working with medical devices at Chemtronics.”