Project Wrap Up and Final Thoughts

As I begin to wrap up my time in Menomonie, I would like to take some time to share my thoughts on my project and my experience here.

Project Wrap Up:

During the last 8 weeks, I have created a demonstration to show how my assistive robotic device to aid with catheter insertion would operate. From there I researched different tremor suppression techniques, which include using 1) sensors and actuators, 2) weight, 3) mass spring damper systems, and 4) an uncoupled device. Upon further investigation, I decided that my assistive robot should be used with an uncoupled device (that is using a stand similar to a camera tripod), to completely remove the device from the tremor motion allowing for smooth catheter insertion. From there, I created a mock up design of what the assistive robot and stand may look like. For future work, I hope to begin finalizing my design and prototyping the device, and then start testing the equipment. Initially testing would be done on catheter insertion dummies used in hospitals to teach nurses how to insert catheters. Using these dummies, I could see how well the device transfers the catheter from the device into the urethra, and initial improvements could be made from there.

With respects to my project, I found this experience to be a great learning opportunity, but also to be very challenging at times. Going through the engineering design process has showed me how expectations for completing a project do not always line up with the reality of the design process.  In all honesty, I thought I would have had a complete prototype built, tested and ready to present at my final presentation. But this was my expectation. In reality, I found that designing a new device takes more time than expected, requires more research than I thought, and you hit many more bumps in the road than predicted. Even though I did not accomplish as much as I had hoped, I was able to lay a foundation for future work to be built upon and I am proud of how much I was able to accomplish in the last 8 weeks. In addition, I am grateful for the opportunity to better understand the engineering design process. Prior to arriving, I had completed a few small group design activities, but nothing to this magnitude. I realized that previously I have not been given the opportunity to fully utilize the design process and I’m thankful that this experience has given me the chance to explore how this process works, and provided me with better insight on how to design a product. Overall, I believe that I have presented a great starting place for this design. I believe this product could improve someone’s life and I hope that the information I have laid out in my final paper would be beneficial to future work on this product.

I hope that this technology will eventually be prototyped and tested so that those who struggle with inserting a catheter can live a more independent life. Furthermore, I hope that the work I have laid out and my analysis on tremor suppression techniques will inspire others to find ways to help those who suffer from this neurological disorder, and will inspire new technological developments in creating tremor suppression devices.

Final Thoughts:

As I reflect on the REU program as a whole, I realize that I really did not have any expectations prior to arriving on campus, and thus my expectations were neither met nor proven wrong. I found this opportunity to be a great chance to get my feet wet with engineering experience, as well as a great way to push me to think outside the box and start thinking like an engineer. I feel honored to have meet colleagues who also share a passion and desire to help others. From my perspective, most of my fellow engineering students seemed to be more focused on the money that they will make or the things that they will have, rather than focusing on how their talents can help the human race. It was reassuring to see a group of talented individuals put their time and energy into products that matter and could help improve and individual’s life.

I also learned that I need to be more sure of myself as an engineer. When I first started out, I constantly seconded guessed each of my decisions. I realized though, that I need to be confident in what I am doing and not be afraid to take risks. The worst thing that can happen is failure, and in the end failure is really not a bad thing. Failure provides a learning experience for you to build upon and helps ensure you will not make the same mistakes again. In the end, I’ve learned that I should not worry as much, and just be confident and proud of my decision and this will help me complete my work faster and more efficiently. This is definitely a lesson I am going to take to heart moving forward because being confident in myself is going to make me a better engineer.

I have enjoyed my time in Menomonie. Though the town was a little smaller than what I am used to, it was nice to be in a quiet, tight knit community for the summer. In addition, being in Menomonie provided me with the opportunity to go to the Mall of America for the first time, and go to the Leinenkugel brewery, which I don’t think I would have ever done if I hadn’t been here. Overall, I have had a great experience in this town, and I am thankful for the time I was given to get to know my roommate, Erin. I don’t think I could have gotten through the summer without our weekly movie theater outings and Caribou/dollar store runs. I feel honored that I had the chance to get to know this talented and inspiring female engineer.

With regards to the future, I am preparing for my senior year at Marquette University, which begins in a few weeks. My senior year will hold many fun memories with friends, along with a lot of school work and spending many hours dedicated to my capstone project. Upon graduation, I hope to move back to Colorado to be closer to my family. I would like to work in industry for a few years to pay off my student loans, and then be sponsored by a company to go to graduate school. I hope to be working at a company that sees the value of the human person, and strives to make this world a better place.

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