Winner! Thanks for to everyone who voted, its been a great experience! Hopefully a few of you guys will have been inspired to have a go at engineering in the future :D
PDD Ltd. – product design consultants, Catalent Pharma Solutions Ltd. – big pharma company, Glide Pharma Ltd. – biotech start-up company
Enterprise Fellow in Delivery Devices for Cell Therapies
I design new drug delivery devices that inject human cells (that have been collected from donors or grown in a lab) into patients to treat injuries and diseases.
For three years during my PhD I lived in Oxford and worked as a Medical Device Engineer for a start-up company called Glide Pharma where I helped improve the design of their needle-free injection technology. After I had written up my thesis I became a researcher to learn all about regenerative medicine and apply what I had learnt about drug delivery.
I soon realised that many therapies that involve injecting human cells into patients will need unique devices to make sure the cells are delivered alive and to the correct site in the body. Things are made more complicated as cells are often very delicate and both time-consuming and expensive to grow or collect.
I work with different companies and research groups across the UK and am designing devices to deliver cells to different parts of the body to treat health issues such as injured spines, skin conditions and diabetes.
My Typical Day: Every single day is different!
I am employed by Loughborough University as an Enterprise Fellow to develop an idea I worked on during my last research project to the point where it can be used in hospitals on patients. The university also send me out to solve problems for different healthcare companies who require engineering support.
All the projects I work on will involve designing, performing and reporting experiments using force testers and hi-speed cameras in the workshop as well as bioreactors, centrifuges and cell counters in the lab. These experiments help me to find out the parameters required to develop prototype devices. Once the parameters are known I can design new prototypes on paper or on CAD (computer aided design) software. A CAD model is really useful and can be 3D printed and then handled to better understand how a product will be used. After getting this far on some projects I then help write patents to protect the ideas and intellectual property that has gone into the design work.
Sometimes during the year I teach undergraduate students which I really enjoy, although this year I’ve had to mark their coursework and exam papers which isn’t as much fun! Any time left in the week is spent emailing collaborators in Newcastle, London and Cambridge to make sure projects are running smoothly.
When work finishes in the evenings I go to rugby training or play football in the winter or cycling and climbing in the summer.
What I'd do with the money
I would host an event at the university for students and teachers to come along and understand that engineering is about more than fixing cars… we can repair people too!
Engineers are needed to make people better in the healthcare industry and are just as important as scientists, doctors and surgeons. Without us they wouldn’t have any equipment to use to diagnose and treat patients with!
I’d get some of the UK’s leading medical device designers, scientists and engineers to run a healthcare engineering workshop to explain how different medical devices in the home and in hospitals are designed, developed and made by engineers; from simple things like needles and asthma inhalers all the way through to MRI scanners and surgical robots. We can also show how important the cells that are manufactured at the university are in creating future of medicines.
I was very fortunate to get a work placement at a leading design consultancy when I was 16. The experience was a world away from how I’d been taught design & technology and resistant materials while at school. It inspired me to follow a career into healthcare engineering. Hopefully having a day out like this would inspire students before they go on to pick GSCEs, A-Levels or university choices.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Makes things better!!!
What's the best thing you've done in your career?
One of the projects I’m working in aims to develop an injection device for a cell therapy that will be used in a clinical trial next year to help patients who suffer from a (currently) incurable genetic skin disease. It is exciting to be at the forefront of new treatments that come from the very latest understanding in engineering, science and medicine. I’ve been fortunate enough to meet some of the patients who the device is going to be for and discuss how the disease they have affects their lives. Those conversations help spur me on when things get difficult. I cannot imagine that there is an engineering field more rewarding than healthcare. Hopefully the device and cell therapy will work and the lives of those I’ve met can be made better.
What did you want to be after you left school?
A Design Engineer. I was fortunate to have a really cool work experience at a design consultancy in London and liked problem solving, brainstorming new ideas/concepts and then going ahead and designing and manufacturing them. I then chose Loughborough University because it’s the best in the country at the time for my two favourite things… engineering and rugby!
Were you ever in trouble at school?
If you weren't doing this job, what would you choose instead?
I grew up living in a pub but when I was younger I wanted to work for LEGO… to this day I still cannot see any downsides of being paid to design and build LEGO models!
Who is your favourite singer or band?
Foo Fighters and Coldplay.
What's your favourite food?
Anything cooked on a BBQ.
What is the most fun thing you've done?
I’m a really into travelling and sport. Last year was a busy one, I travelled around India in the spring, flew down under to watch the British Lions beat Australia in the summer and cycled from London to Amsterdam in the autumn.
Tell us a joke.
Why don’t you ever see hippos hiding in trees? Because they’re really good at it.