Ellie Blues

This summer I interned with a medical device start-up company, ThrombX Medical, in Santa Clara, California. With only 3 full time employees I was fully immersed in every aspect of the company.

I didn’t have one big project as such, more a collection of smaller tasks on a weekly basis. These involved; writing protocols and quality documents for design verification testing that will be carried out after my internship has finished, carrying out radial force testing on the device at every design revision, ordering and managing inventory of parts based on engineering drawings and editing videos of the device to show investors.

Two highlights from my time at ThrombX Medical include; a physician interaction with 5 interventional neuroradiologists and neurosurgeons to gain their feedback on the device - meeting and conversing with these esteemed professionals was an incredible experience. Furthermore, I saw 3 animal studies which were very different experiences, it was interesting to see how the device operates in a surgical setting and to see how the design is optimized following such studies.

I have learnt from this experience that although entering the working environment may seem daunting, it is far easier than I first thought.

Every weekend brought with it another adventure. Over the 4th of July weekend the Northern California interns travelled to LA and San Diego. We also managed to spend time in San Francisco, Lake Tahoe, Yosemite and King’s Canyon National Parks.

Over the summer my confidence has definitely increased, in my own abilities and my confidence to raise my thoughts and ideas during meetings and to higher ranking individuals.

It has been intriguing to see how the theory I have learnt at university is applied practically to industry. For example, at university we learnt about medical device regulations which was pretty tedious. However, in practice, these regulations govern most of the engineering decisions that are made within the company, influencing everything else that follows. Seeing this full process has allowed me to appreciate what I have been learning throughout my studies.

I feel that I have grown a lot over the course of my internship and I hope to bring this growth back to university for my final year. I aim to be more productive instead of dragging deadlines over into the weekend and to approach tasks more efficiently and logically.

From start to finish the whole experience with Saltire has been so unique. Without Saltire there is no way I would have gained access to an internship at a medical device start up in Silicon Valley. In fact, one of the most common questions people have asked me is how I ended up here…and it is all thanks to Saltire. The medical device industry in Scotland is a lot smaller in comparison to the industry in the US so without Saltire I wouldn't have had the opportunity to gain this invaluable experience and exposure.

To anyone considering whether to apply to become a Saltire Scholar next year I would say to definitely go for it, you will definitely get further than you think. The application process is such a good learning experience; learning how to refine your CV to highlight the appropriate skills for each job as well as gaining interviewing skills will be immensely beneficial in the future.

If not for my Saltire internship I would still be unsure about what path to take after university and whether to enter the medical device industry, and would feel significantly less confident applying to jobs.