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Coaching future healthcare engineers

Team’s role supporting the Healthcare Engineering Module at Loughborough University has been ongoing for over five years now. In that time, I’ve seen the number of students on the module grow from two dozen in 2014 to over seventy in 2019 – with even more applying for the module next year. The success of the module has been down to the enthusiasm and dedication of the course leaders and their engagement with the medical device industry.

Just as the popularity of the module has grown, so have my own children. My daughter Christie has just started her year nine Design and Technology course this year, and to give her some inspiration for a career in healthcare engineering, she accompanied Charlie Lowndes, Ben Brown and myself to the University’s kick-off meeting for this year’s projects in March. Taking my daughter back to my old department came with a wave of nostalgia, but showing Christie the projects she could be working on in this field has highlighted what a career in engineering and product design offers – in healthcare alone, you could work on anything from an inhaler to a surgical robotics system.

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As in previous years, we set the students a number of design briefs and acted as mentors as the projects progressed, then returned at the beginning of May to review the final pitches and present some prizes to the winning teams.

To better reflect Team’s values as an Employee Owned Trust, the prizes awarded to the two winning project teams were given in John Lewis Vouchers – one of the oldest EOTs in the UK. The ‘Best Presentation’ prize was awarded to the team that worked on a novel design for testing allergic reactions, making the whole process more consistent and easier to assess. The award for ‘Most Investable Idea’ was presented to the team that designed a compact mountain rescue system to help stabilise climbers suffering from hypothermia. Congratulations to Jonathan, Ashley, Monika, Owen, Shahir and Yasmin, and good luck in your future careers.

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Every year I am more and more impressed with the levels of creativity and confidence that the students bring to their projects, and the polish they bring to their presentations. I also feel very proud that Team has played a small role in helping to build the profile of the module and inspire the next generation of medical device designers. Thanks very much to Yang Liu of the Wolfson School of Engineering for her invitation – we look forward to working with you in 2020.

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