After sixth-form college, I worked as a lifeguard for a couple of years, then decided to study biomedical engineering at university. Straight after I graduated, I got my dream job, training to be a clinical engineer!
Trainee Clinical Engineer for the Leeds Teaching Hospitals
I work in hospitals, and I check and fix all kinds of equipment – from blood monitors to wheelchairs – use loads of ways of measuring the way bodies work, and even give people (little) electric shocks to help them to walk!
I’m a trainee, training to be a clinical engineer (also called a clinical scientist) – a specialist engineer who does all sorts of things in hospitals.
You can find clinical engineers doing lots of things in hospitals and healthcare. What they do varies between people, but in general, together with our friends, the medical technicians, we:-
Fit and repair special wheelchairs for people with particular needs
Maintain and repair medical equipment that every patient needs (even in my city, there are over 10,000 bits of equipment that we look after!)
Test and use special measurement equipment that is so new that it needs an engineer to operate. For example, measuring electrical signals in eyes to find the reason for sight problems; measuring how much water people have in them to see if their treatment is working; and measuring how hot parts of patients are.
Use lots of cameras and a knowledge of how forces work on people’s bodies to tell doctors exactly how some patients are walking wrong, and how to fix it
Do scientific experiments to find out new things and help to treat ill people better
Set up little machines so that they give someone a tiny electric shock that helps their muscles work better
Design equipment and work out how to better use what we have, so that we can do more and give more help to anybody who needs it
My Typical Day
A caffeine-fuelled medley of seeing patients, doing computer calculations and writing reports.
What I'd do with the money
Build a free website with a database of medical engineering companies, for engineers who want to work in healthcare.
According to the latest government reports, there are at least 3,309 medical technology companies in the UK. But when I was looking for a job as I finished university, I found that it’s really difficult to find them! Medical technology is such an important part of so many people’s lives, and the UK is one of the best countries in the world for it, but hardly anybody knows about what is done here!
Fortunately, all of those companies are listed in the “Bioscience and Health Technology Database”. If we were allowed to have the names and websites of those companies, it should be possible to make an automated web-crawler to categorise them all like magic!
So, what would I do with the money? If I could get hold of the right information, I would use it to build a free website where anybody could search for medical engineering and technology companies, and look up companies by what they do – prosthetics, surgical equipment, synthetic skin, stem cells, wheelchairs, robotic assistants, or whatever else…
Not only would that help newbie engineers looking for jobs, but it could show people the variety and number of organisations involved, and that would be fantastic.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Probably not crazy.
Who is your favourite singer or band?
My favourite band is Muse! I’ve never seen them live though, I would love to one day…
What's your favourite food?
Burritos. They are like food which likes being wrapped up in blankets and not leaving bed. Much like I do.
What is the most fun thing you've done?
Volcano boarding: sliding on volcanic ash down the side of an active volcano!
What did you want to be after you left school?
Were you ever in trouble at school?
Not too much!
What's the best thing you've done as an engineer?
Not a very engineer-y thing, but we once had a little 5-year-old kid who was terrified of our walking measurements. I made him smile and got him walking, and we measured him. Based on that, he had surgery and now he walks better!
If you weren't an engineer, what would you be?
Possibly still a lifeguard. Or a musician, I play the saxophone! But I prefer engineering.
Tell us a joke.
What did Albert Einstein say to his friend? “I moustache you a question”! (HA I crack myself up)
This photo was taken after a “casting clinic”. We wanted to find out exactly what shape somebody’s back was so that we could make a wheelchair seat especially for them. So we sat them on the big beanbag that you can see here, and then sucked the air out so that it kept the same shape. In the picture, a technician who I work with is scanning the shape of the beanbag using something a lot like a Kinect that you can use for Xbox games. The 3D scan is sent to the workshops where more technicians make it using great big robots! So, you can see how useful engineers and technicians are to healthcare here.