This past summer, I worked as a Research & Development (R&D) Engineering Intern for Edwards Lifesciences, a medium-sized medical device company based in Irvine. Edward Lifesciences creates devices to remedy cardiovascular disease, their most well-known product being the transcatheter deployed aortic heart valve.
Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR) is a minimally invasive way to treat aortic stenosis, which is when calcium builds up on the native valve and blood flow is severely restricted. Before TAVR was invented, the only option for patients with aortic stenosis was to have their valve replaced with open heart surgery, which is a risky procedure for older patients with underlying conditions. During the TAVR procedure, an interventional cardiologist deploys the artificial valve with a catheter through the femoral artery. Once positioned in the native annulus, the artificial valve is expanded with a balloon. This procedure is less intimidating and has a much faster recovery time than open heart surgery!
My project was to use TrackEye Motion Analysis (TEMA) software to convert 2D camera images of the transcatheter heart valve under different pressures into a 3D model. The 3D model could then be used in simulations to determine the force exerted on the frame of the valve. This is an important piece of information for documents that are eventually submitted to medical device regulatory agencies. At the end of my internship, I presented my 3D model and standard operating procedure for how to use TEMA to an audience of over 100 people. Vice presidents, directors, managers, and engineers in R&D who were also working on the transcatheter heart valve were in attendance.
I am grateful to Edwards for making my virtual internship experience meaningful and enjoyable. I had many conversations with full-time employees about their career journeys within Edwards and tuned in to talks by corporate vice presidents specifically catered to the interns. The human relations team also put on social events for the interns to get to know each other, and I made a couple friends (shoutout to Jenna & Catherine)!
Although I am not planning on pursuing industry after I graduate, I learned valuable lessons during my internship that I will apply in my future career as a physician researcher. I am definitely looking at cardiology as a potential field to go into!