I started this internship puzzle with two pieces in my hands, my academic coursework and my research knowledge. As a rising senior I was determined to add the industry piece to my undergraduate experiences as a Biomedical Engineering student. In the search for learning and working hard, I was excited to land at this Stryker R&D internship, a challenging environment that allowed me to expand my knowledge and required me to go beyond the extra mile. When I heard my manager saying “R&D stands for Research and DOING,” I knew I was in the right place.
I was offered a summer-long term project based on updating a device with the goal of solving a significant clinical issue, where I was able to go from an idea to having two prototypes in my hands. Although holding the prototype felt as if I had solved the “puzzle of life,” I believe the most important lesson hides in the process required to develop the solution.
The development started with a team of surgeons showing the difficulty of using the existing device during a cadaver lab, expressing the need to incorporate new features. The process continued with engineering brainstorming sessions, where I learned one of the most important lessons this summer: What to do when stuck in a puzzle? Look at each of the pieces individually and try to assemble them one-by-one! This method of isolating the problems was essential. It was only when I looked at each of the sections of the device individually that I was able to focus in each of the pieces and start putting it all together. After completing the computer design iterations, the puzzle turned into a prototype.
Adding the industry piece to my puzzle has been a rewarding experience and has allowed me to incorporate my previous academic and research skills. In addition, the internship program afforded us the opportunity to be part of the full Stryker experience, including participating in multiple social and volunteering events, attending leadership talks, and networking with other interns and employees.
Picture taken after the Trauma & Extremities town hall meeting with Stryker’s CEO and other summer interns. Yes! I introduced myself, and yes! I asked him questions. From left to right: Maria V. De Abreu, Kevin Lobo (CEO), Neha Syal, Carolina Caicedo
For both my long term and short-term assignments, I was able to combine working independently with receiving continuous feedback from my supervisor and other members of my team. Managing my time, communicating efficiently, and applying engineering and biomedical concepts were fundamental skills that helped solve the puzzle. My Stryker experience allowed me to think big to challenge myself to do more and be better, work hard to push myself out of my comfort zone, and achieve the projects goals beyond the expectations. Overall, it was not about the pieces but how they worked together.
Maria V. De Abreu Pineda
Stevens Institute of Technology
Stryker R&D, Trauma and Extremities