The anatomy of engineering
Women in STEM Senior Mechanical Design Engineer, Orla Cannon, works on developing new technology and products to improve patient safety and surgical outcomes.
How does engineering improve people's lives?
"I work on developing new technology and products to improve patient safety and surgical outcomes. Patients are part of everything we do, and my job involves speaking to surgeons, organising product demonstrations and attending operations. Surgical procedural knowledge is key to developing the right products.
"I started in September 2015, on the Stryker Instruments R&D Graduate Programme. I was always interested in engineering – my dad’s a mechanic and I have three brothers – and I took metalwork at school. My education enabled me to complete a BSc in Product Design at DIT. Product Design is a multidisciplinary course which incorporates Engineering, Art and Business – covering everything from the initial idea, to product manufacturing, to sales and marketing. In the ﬁnal year I was split between automotive and medical device design until Stryker came to the college, and I realised a career in medical devices was something I would be interested in.
"When I joined the graduate programme it involved ﬁve rotations of six months. They covered four key areas: design, quality, manufacturing and engineering services, with a cross-functional project at the end.
"The best thing about the programme was it allowed you to own your own career. It encouraged you to make it known what you were interested in. From this I got to experiment with everything from hands-on machine experience, to designing new instrumentation for surgical procedures, organising surgeon demonstrations and developing relationships with teams both in Ireland and internationally.
"People would be surprised by the amount of anatomical knowledge that I, an engineer, possess. If you are developing a product to help improve surgical outcomes, you must know that area inside out. Having the experience in multiple rotations allows you to see different aspects of engineering and choose both your favourite and what you are best at. This sets you up for the best experience in your chosen role in the future."