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STMicroelectronics Internship: Monitoring of heart rate and activities with integrated ECG and motion sensors

By Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering, on 13 October 2023

Name: Sirine Bhouri
Degree: Biomedical Engineering
Project Title: Monitoring of heart rate and activities with integrated ECG and motion sensors
Supervisors: Dr Terence Leung

This summer I got the opportunity to work on an 8-week studentship that was organised jointly by UCL and ST Microelectronics Ltd (STM). The aim of the project was to work with STM’s Hi device and investigate a new clinical application for it. By the end of the project, I managed to develop a real-time model of sway as well as a Graphical User Interface (GUI) that uses accelerometer data collected by the Hi device to compute a sway index and output the grade of ataxia of the patient in a timely and accurate manner, thus facilitating the diagnosis and monitoring of ataxic patients.

What immediately appealed to me about the project was the fact that it focused on wearable technology, and programming, whilst providing clinical exposure. I got to interact with patients and clinicians to develop a proof-of-concept that integrated microelectronics into the clinical world, and I learned so much in the process.

Indeed, I got the opportunity to work, share my ideas, discuss my findings with and get feedback from both engineers and clinicians and this was truly an opportunity of a lifetime. It proved to me how important it is to consider both the engineering and clinical aspects if we want to develop an innovative, effective, and useful medical technology.

Realising not only the importance but also the necessity of this interdisciplinarity reassured me that I had made the right decision to study biomedical engineering, which essence itself consists of bridging engineering, physics and maths with biology and medicine to improve patients’ and clinicians’ lives.

In addition to this, working with engineers, clinicians, my supervisor as well as PhD students, taught me to share my findings and present my ideas in a clear and succinct manner. It also improved my ability to receive and implement feedback effectively to improve my work.

All of these learnings and achievements were made possible thanks to teamwork which was key during my studentship. By collaborating continually, I gained insight into various fields and aspects of medical technology development, and I learned so much from each and every single presentation and discussion I had. I also got to meet brilliant people who shared my passion for biomedical engineering and medical technologies, and this made me truly enjoy my time as a student intern!

Reflections: My first year on Biomedical Engineering

By Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering, on 1 August 2022

A profile picture of Sirine standing in front of a podiumMy first year at UCL has officially come to an end and I can’t believe how fast these a-little-less-than-ten-months went by!

In the span of a few months, I went from being a wide-eyed 18-year-old to a young adult full of ambition. I have learnt a lot, met so many inspiring people, both teaching staff and students, and grown so much as a person.

MOVING TO LONDON : Making a home away from home

It feels like only yesterday I was in a plane in the direction of London, looking through the porthole and feeling both nervous and excited about this new adventure that was just about to start.

Moving away from my family and the country I had always lived in, adapting to a new city, meeting new people, and having to make a home away from home was not easy at first. At that time, I found the prospect of moving to London by myself and starting this new chapter of my life daunting and overwhelming and I had far too many apprehensions. But this is all part of growing up and as unsettling as that was, things got easier with time.

After my first few weeks at UCL, I had joined a society I really liked, met new friends, discovered my favourite study spaces, made peace with the 9am lectures and started a life-long friendship (although unstable in times of strikes) with the tube!

All these small experiences and achievements familiarised me with this new chapter and made me excited for it.

MY COURSE : Biomedical Engineering

University is undoubtedly very different from high-school and one key point of my first year was obviously my course.

After spending one year studying it, I could not be more reassured that I made the right choice. What I really like about Biomedical Engineering is that it offers an interdisciplinary approach that allows me to apply the knowledge I have acquired in Engineering, Physics and Maths to the medical field or, in other terms, to innovate in the clinical domain. It really is an interesting and exciting course where I am perpetually learning, expanding my horizons, and growing, both as an engineer and as a person.

I think the highlight of this first year were the Scenario Weeks during which we had to work in teams on exciting, hands-on projects which included developing a wearable device and designing a healthcare app.

This makes me very excited about the coming years and I am looking forward to all the exciting projects I will be working on.

SOCIETIES/CLUBS : A door to new experiences, friendships and opportunities

Finally, when it comes to my first year, I think that one last essential part of it were the clubs and/or societies. At the start of the year, after attending an online social event which I really enjoyed, I decided to join the UCL Women’s Engineering Society, and it was probably one of the best decisions I made.

Indeed, by doing so, I got the chance to meet and befriend so many students who have the same interests as me, to attend amazing socials and to become one of UCLWES’s executives which allowed me to further enhance various skills.

Next year, I will be the treasurer of UCLWES and I am really looking forward to this new role and to the great socials and activities that we will be organising.

So my advice to any first year reading this post would be: go to the welcome fair, try out the taster sessions, attend the socials, you never know, you may discover THE society/club that is made for you and make life-long friends.

As this blog post is drawing to an end, so does my reflection on my first year. I know that I will forever be thankful for this first year, and this is why I am both, a little sad at the idea of letting it go and excited about what is coming next!

There will be periods of homesickness and stress, but there will also be periods of joy and excitement. Life, certainly, does not come with a map and these ups and downs are what make it so special and full of lessons! 🙂

a collage of London landmarks and the UCL campus

This blog was written by Sirine, MEng Biomedical Engineering

Photo credits: All pictures supplied by Sirine