The team at Respiratory Sciences Inc. is working to develop and commercialize a medical device that aspires to detect respiratory diseases earlier and thus treat them sooner. When the team contemplated their options for designing and assembling a respiratory simulator test-system, they decided to engage with the SciTech Internship Program to find and hire Senior Mechanical Engineering Major Elizabeth Brown.

“SciTech gives us easy access to very talented people and allows us to validate them before we integrate them into our business,” said Dane Stimart, the Director of Diagnostic Devices and Services.

Brown was responsible for researching, designing, building and running their bench test system.  Given her previous internship experience in the medical device space and her proactive personality, Stimart was confident she was up for the task.

“Elizabeth was curious, ambitious and independent,” Stimart recalled. “So, I had faith that she would have the energy to drive this on herself.”

Empowering independence
The purpose of Brown’s mechanical bench test system is to validate Respiratory Sciences’ medical and related clinical use cases. The engineering process’s many steps began with research.

“Before I could build, I needed to learn the theory,” Brown said. To accomplish this, she worked with a leading University Physics Professor who had already partnered with Respiratory Sciences. From this collaboration, she designed the prototype, first as a computer rendering using block diagrams and schematics and then fabricated it physically. Brown incorporated a wave form generator, a specialty piece of equipment, to make her artificial lung bench tester come alive with “breathing” to simulate patients with differing levels of lung health. All her work was supported and validated through the numerous academic, industry and medical experts supporting the Respiratory Sciences team.

“It’s been such a great experience, basically starting from square one,” said Brown proudly. “The biggest surprise for me was how much importance this position has in the company. I didn’t think I’d be given so much free range to work on it independently, but I really appreciated that. I think being able to do all this has set me up super well for my career as a future engineer.”

“We’re here to support you,” Stimart replied. “Having the ability to trust your employees, see where their strengths are and give them options to grow is so impactful. You can really harness the energy of an individual by empowering them.”

Professional validation
Respiratory Sciences approach to internships has been a great success. Brown made significant contributions to their R&D and they fostered her confidence in a very meaningful way.

“Personally, I feel further validated in the fact that I want to go into the med device industry, and I feel really happy with where my career is going,” Brown said. “The work we’re doing at Respiratory Sciences is really important and impactful. It’s a method that could get really big and could help a lot of people.”

After a very successfully spring internship, Brown will be continuing her work with Respiratory Sciences this summer and is looking forward to helping them advance their device as far as she can. “I love the startup environment,” she said. “There’s a lot of room for me to grow.”