Name: Brandon Garciga
Hometown: Miami Lakes, FL
What is your major? Mechanical Engineering
Where did you intern? What did you do there? I am currently interning with Medtronic in Minneapolis, Minnesota. My role is a systems engineer, although I do work a lot with the Quality Team for compliance reasons.
How did you get your internship? I got this internship through the 2018 Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) Conference.
What advice do you have for those beginning the internship process? Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Going into the medical device industry was a very daunting experience at first. Through networking with other interns, colleagues, and talking about certain goals that are needed to be met, I was able to understand exactly where I stood and how to exceed the expectations.
What projects did you work on? The main project I am working on is increasing the mechanical heart valve productivity after all the machining and production (i.e. detailing, spinning, polishing, final assembly, etc.). In addition, I will be investigating ways to automate and improve the current process that is being used now. One of my jobs is to test the current process through a validation exam and then conduct a study, known as the Gage R&R report, that shows whether or not the results are repeatable, reproducible, and reliable enough to have in the current system and allow for future production. Then we implement a better way to measure crucial parameters of the leaflet to have better traceability.
How did your internship connect back to your coursework? My Solidworks, Mechanics of Materials (w/ Lab) and Engineering Economy classes all have laid a good foundation for me. It is crucial to understand Solidworks drawings here as every mechanical heart valve is unique and the crucial parameters that are targeted need to be understood to reach nominal value when measuring them. Mechanics of Materials has played a significant role for me here at Medtronic. From the class and the lab, I have learned how certain metals act when they undergo plastic deformation.
In addition, there are many tests that are conducted here that relate back to this FIU course (ex: hardness testing). Finally, Engineering Economy has played a vital role due to cost-benefit analysis. Since my project has to deal with implementing a new system to automate the current process, it is important to not only do a cost-benefit analysis on different alternatives, but also figure out when the break-even point for the new system will take place. All in all, these classes laid a good backbone for me while working here at Medtronic.
What was the coolest thing about your internship or that happened during your internship? The coolest thing about this internship was learning about all the different mechanical heart valves that are produced in this facility. Everyone at Medtronic is focused on their mission, which is “to contribute to human welfare by application of biomedical engineering in the research, design, manufacture, and sale of instruments or appliances that alleviate pain, restore health, and extend life.” Additionally, I find it amazing how they are so willing to help you learn and with your project, so it can be optimized and implemented as fast as possible.
What did you like most about your experience? Working on ways to improve the current system of measuring the crucial parameters of the mechanical heart valve leaflet is what I like most about the experience. The fact that this can have such a big impact on the company in terms of revenue and manufacturing yield is what drives me.
What did you learn about yourself? I learned that it’s okay to not know everything. It’s always best to ask your team questions when you are unsure of something. My manager always tells me, “good experience comes from good judgment. Good judgment comes from bad experience.”
How did you expand your professional network? I have been able to leverage my professional network using social media applications such as LinkedIn and even Instagram. I will try my very best to continue to reach out to my team, colleagues and other interns after my internship ends to continue to expand my network.
How did it help you prove yourself in the “real-world?” This experience has helped me in the “real-world” because it has exposed me to a whole side of the medical device industry that I wasn’t aware of. This experience has led me to find a new passion which will hopefully lead into a longterm practice.
Garciga standing next to Medtronic's mission statement.
Garciga working in the lab at Medtronic as a systems engineer.