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Internship Profile: Jose Heijn, Aerospace Engineering ’21 (Interventional Oncology Robotics Laboratory)

Name: José Heijn
Class: 2021
Hometown: North Miami, Florida
Degree: Aerospace Engineering
Internship (Company Name and Location): Interventional Oncology Robotics Laboratory, Department of Interventional Radiology, Miller School of Medicine; Miami

How did you find this internship?
Last December, the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering sent out an email about a research opportunity in medical robotics. I followed up with Dr. Chang, the lab director, and started working at his lab shortly afterwards. The robot we work with is CT-image guided and is designed to insert needles through the skin to treat tumors.

Describe your internship.
During the 2018 spring semester, I worked mostly with the CNC machine in the lab. I helped set up the machine, designed parts for the robot on SolidWorks, and programmed the cuts using SprutCAM. Over the summer, I helped make a gelatin phantom to use in targeting experiments. A key feature of this phantom is an Arduino-controlled mechanism that simulates the breathing and/or movement of a human patient undergoing a biopsy or treatment.

What did you learn at CoE that has helped you at your summer internship?
I learned about basic circuits in University Physics III, which helped me work with Arduino over the summer. Additionally, I was able to transfer some of the CAD modeling skills I acquired with Creo in Intro to Engineering II to SolidWorks in the lab.

What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned at this program?
I have learned to find information online by poring over research articles published in medical or engineering journals. Even if I don’t fully understand an article, I now can usually determine if the authors collected data relevant to our current project in the lab. Learning to program a CNC mill using CAM software has also been very valuable.

Why has this been a good experience for you?
I feel that this research opportunity has provided me great exposure to the robotics field. I have gotten a glimpse of the principles governing joint movement and positioning in robotics (e.g., inverse and forward kinematics). Most importantly, every advancement in medical robotics can one day streamline medical procedures and even save lives.

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