Sandra has been working at ICS Medical for 2 years. She started her journey at ICS as a technician and was recently promoted to an engineer.
Sandra shares her insights on her career progression at ICS and her decision to return to education.
How long have you worked in ICS Medical Devices? Tell us more about your education/career background.
I have worked for one year and nine months in ICS Medical Devices. My journey in the medical device sector started in 2017 in one of the globally recognised MedTech Hubs, Galway, when I got my first job at Medtronic as a production operator. After Medtronic, I worked as a product builder in Merit Medical and Creganna Medical (TE Connectivity).
I got the chance to work on a large variety of medical devices, starting with smart technologies such as life support units and finishing with minimally invasive delivery systems. During the four years I spent as a production operator/ product builder, I significantly expanded my technical knowledge and skills as well as professional growth while working directly hands-on with various people who were professionals in their fields of expertise. However, a significant change in my career started when I was introduced to Design Services. I got to experience a different stage of the medical device lifecycle compared to manufacturing and really enjoyed the experimental work.
I wanted to progress in my career and thought about returning to education for a while. However, as a non-native English speaker, I felt unconfident about studying in Ireland due to the complexity of STEM subjects. An opportunity arose to try my abilities in the Foundation course in Science, Technology, and Engineering at the University of Galway. The course was designed for mature students who want to return to education. I completed the course without trouble and got motivated. Around the same time I joined ICS Medical Devices as a Prototype and NPI Technician and, shortly after that, started studying BSc (Hons) in Quality and Regulatory Affairs for the MedTech industry.
Congratulations on recently graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Quality and Regulatory Affairs. What motivated you to complete this degree?
I decided that I have a passion and a skill set, and I can and want to benefit the MedTech industry. I set a goal to progress in Science and Engineering, aiming to take up scientific and engineering roles within the MedTech sector. In 2021 I started exploring my options to study and decided to apply to Springboard funded courses. I strategically chose a Bachelor of Science in Quality and Regulatory Affairs Level 8 degree because it was specifically designed by the Irish MedTech Association and the University of Limerick Science and Engineering department to equip people working in the MedTech industry with technical knowledge and understanding of Medical Device design and life cycle.
I broadened my knowledge of medical device need specification, concepts, materials science, biocompatibility, design for manufacturing processes, verification, validation, statistics, and six sigma. Moreover, I gained advanced knowledge of medical device regulatory requirements in terms of technical file creation and submission for the US and EU, as well as industry applicable QMS, GDP, GMP, and standards such as ISO 13485 and ISO 1479.
It was a busy year for me, working full time and studying an intense course. However, I would like to take the opportunity and thank everyone in ICS Medical Devices who got involved, supported, and celebrated with me throughout my course. It is now completed, and I’m planning my next educational milestone.
Sandra graduating with a first class honours in Bachelor of Science in Quality and Regulatory
Affairs from the University of Limerick.
What part of your job do you find the most fulfilling?
The most fulfilling part of my job is “The Unknown”. Although I am involved with multiple departments across ICS Medical Devices as projects progress, prototyping is the most enjoyable part of my role. In prototyping, everything is unexpected and, therefore, exciting. Prototyping allows me to satisfy my curiosity and to have personal input at an early stage in order to build what is required for our customer. Often projects are challenging and require extra effort to solve their unique problems. I guess this is the beauty of my job, creative problem solving with an attitude that nothing is impossible.
How has your role at ICS evolved since you’ve been here?
Almost two years ago, I started as a Technician, and just recently, I was promoted to an Engineer role here at ICS Medical Devices. The company is continuously growing, and there are plenty of opportunities to excel for ambitious and hardworking people.
What is one thing you wish people knew about your job?
I wish people knew how medical device and, to be specific in my case, catheter prototyping is not just about putting some polymers and metals together but rather how much personal input it demands. Prototyping requires people to be passionate, curious, and creative to stay on top in the competitive industry. It flourishes in a creative environment where new processes and constructions are invented daily, and people are encouraged to go and do something unexpected. It could be the day another innovation will be brought into the industry.
Projects in prototyping are unique, they are challenging because, in the majority of cases, they are new unseen technology. A prototype is often the most exciting stage for an innovator as it’s the first time the project owner gets to experience and hold their idea in hand. However, prototyping is not only about discovery, but it also requires knowledge of materials and processes to ensure that the prototype is cost effective, functional, and meets its specification. It is vital to explore prototypes from different angles and systematically collect data to ensure gradual development of the product in later stages to be able to implement industry applicable methods to manufacture it and achieve consistent quality.
ICS Medical Devices promotes a healthy work/life balance, what is your favourite thing to do when you are not working?
When I’m not working, I like to be an ordinary human and enjoy the little things in life, such as coffee and long walks by the Atlantic ocean. I like to relax with a book and expand my knowledge on something new. At the moment, I’m reading “Spillover”, it’s a science-adventure book for anyone curious about pandemics. Sports are an important part of my life, I have been practicing kickboxing for a few years at my local club and also competed in a few CrossFit competitions around Ireland. I currently like running and exercising at my local gym. Endurance and weightlifting sessions would be my favourite.