MEng Medical Engineering graduate Manisha De Mel describes how her time at Surrey helped her secure a job as a medical device safety engineer.

How did you end up in such an offbeat, unconventional and interesting career?

I wanted to study at Surrey because of the University’s high graduate employment rate.

I was also impressed by the option of taking a Professional Training Year; having the chance to put theory into practice was a critical deciding factor for me.

In terms of Medical Engineering course content, Surrey offer specific biomedical modules which provide you with a broad understanding of physiological concepts. My favourite module was Clinical Rehabilitation which focused on human movement analysis and prosthetics development.

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What is your strongest memory of your time at Surrey – what do you picture first when you think of being here?

My strongest memory at Surrey is still Freshers’ Week. The effort that goes into welcoming and making new students feel at home is massive. Staff and academics go a long way in helping new students integrate well here.

What were the best things about your course?

The best thing about my course were the numerous opportunities to apply theory in practice, which would vary from from gait analysis in the Human Movement Laboratory to tissue engineering in the Cell Culture Lab. In terms of facilities, the buildings here are fully equipped with specialised experimental laboratories, a machine workshop, Design Centre and Gait Laboratory.

My degree encompassed core Mechanical Engineering elements like:
• Fluid Mechanics, Thermodynamics, Engineering Materials, Mathematics, Experimental Laboratories, Design, Sustainability & Component Productions, Statics & Dynamics.

It also covered specialised Electronics and Biomedical Technology components like:
• Electronics, Control, Instrumentation, Numerical Methods with MATLAB.
• Medical Implants, Biomaterials, Biomedical Sensors, Human Biology, Biomechanics, Healthcare Practice, Physiological Measurements, Clinical Rehabilitation, Bio-signal Processing.

I also carried out a Group Design Project each year and I won the prize for the Best Final Year Project.

I completed my Professional Training Year as a Mechanical Engineer at the R&D facility at Elekta Oncology Ltd., UK, where I worked for 1 year & 3 months.

This degree is accredited by the IMechE as fully satisfying the educational base for a Chartered Engineer (CEng).

If you completed a Professional Training placement, what did you find most useful about it?

I successfully completed my Professional Training placement at Elekta Oncology Ltd – one of the UK’s leading providers of radiation oncology treatment solutions to cancer patients. Joining Elekta was a very exciting prospect as it gave me the opportunity to see the challenges of developing medical devices at first hand. As part of the Agility™ Reliability Project Team, based in the company’s Research & Design facility, my tasks included research, design, testing and data analysis to improve the system. My work involved improving the reliability and safety of a radiotherapy treatment. During my time there, I saw the paramount importance of safety in the medical device industry. During my Professional Training year I saw the paramount importance of safety in the medical device industry.

One of the crucial skills I gained was the ability to interact with engineers and scientists from other disciplines. A central part of my role was to negotiate with other departments and manage their expectations. I also learnt the importance of other departments in the company – for example, how the finance department actually helps to shape the priorities of the engineering departments. I feel proud of what I achieved at Elekta. I played a key role in significantly improving the reliability of a device that helps to save lives, and the research I helped conduct will improve the performance of current and future products by decreasing downtime in hospitals due to breakdowns. Having the chance to experience the industry before graduating helped me identify what I wanted to do after I gained my degree. My placement experience definitely went a long way in helping me secure a graduate job.

What do you do now and what do you find most enjoyable about your line of work?

I currently work in medical device safety as an Engineer at Underwriter Laboratories, Guildford. It’s incredibly exciting to be able to apply all my knowledge in a practical environment and learn new skills in the industry.

How did you decide what career to go into? How did your time at Surrey help you to decide?

In addition to doing a professional training placement, Surrey offered other opportunities to gain exposure to the medical engineering industry. This included industrial collaborations for both individual and group projects, field visits to various medical device companies, and a wide range of seminars and talks hosted at the university. These gave me an insight into different areas in the industry but also numerous opportunities to network with professionals in the field. My dream job would be to become a forensic biomedical engineer and provide research-based solutions to improve the reliability and safety of medical devices

What aspects of being connected with the alumni network are most important or of most interest to you and why?

Networking, finding new opportunities and maintaining a strong link with the University.