Miranda Bugos – Internship STEP Reflection

Miranda Bugos

STEP Reflection

Making a Difference Through Engineering


Brief Description of STEP Project

In the duration of my STEP signature project, I was tasked with production and sanitation of lumbar and cervical plates. These tasks started off by cutting stock of raw titanium and aluminum beams. These beams were then put into a high precision cutter to shape them into cervical and lumbar plates. I then had to gage pin, sand blast, inspect, and sanitize them to go out to a holding center where they would be until a hospital voices a need for them.


What about your understanding of yourself, your assumptions, or your view of the world changed or transformed while completing you STEP project

Throughout this experience, I learned a lot about myself and my field of study. This opportunity solidified my career goal. I knew from a young age I wanted to help people I just did not know what path I wanted to go down. I also assumed some things that turned out to be false throughout the course of my internship. One of which being that I was going to be stuck behind a desk all day programming or coding. After my first day there I realized that was not the case. The tasks I was asked to do were very hands on and I loved it. Another assumption that caught me off guard was the process and the strict inspection these parts must go through to get cleared to go to hospitals. Obviously, they need to be perfect since they are going into someone’s body, but I underestimated just how much paperwork needs to be done for them to be cleared.

My view of the world was transformed by this experience as well. Going into this field, I knew that medical implants were high in demand, but I think I underestimated just how in demand they are. This opportunity showed me that biomedical/biomaterial/biomechanical engineers are needed especially because the prosthetic and medical implant field is rapidly progressing, expanding, and evolving.


What events, interactions, relationships, or activities during your STEP Signature Project led to the transformation/ change you discussed and how did those affect you

Over the summer, I made thousands of cervical and lumbar plates. My boss expressed to me that these were only for one company and that they would be gone within a month and that we’d do that whole process over again. The company I worked for also works with other companies to sell these implants to so you can double or triple this workload. This really opened my eyes to the demand of these medical implants.

As for relationships, I worked with a small group of engineers which allowed me to be very involved in the production of these medical implants. A lot of my time spent working and learning was one on one with my bosses. I think this was very beneficial in building a connection with them and learning a great deal about the industry I would be joining after graduating. I also think this enhanced my internship experience. Because I was involved in such a tight knit group, I was involved in almost everything that happened in the company. I am very thankful and fortunate to have been in the frontline at such an early stage of my career. I am also very grateful to have been offered to go back and work for them next summer and even during academic calendar breaks.

A major event that happened while being employed there was, I got to sit in on an audit. I signed to protect the privacy of material discussed during the audit so I cannot speak much about it, but the experience was very motivating and interesting. The topics that were discussed led to my transformation of some of the things that I discussed previously as well as some others I am unable to elaborate on.


Why is this change/transformation significant and valuable for your life.

As stated previously, I knew I wanted to help people from a young age, but I was unsure of how I wanted to do that. This experience solidified that for me. I want to do the process I did over the course of this summer for the rest of my life. Watching finish products being sent out to hospitals knowing they started off as a bar of metal is so rewarding. Knowing that I made a difference in thousands of lives this summer is exactly the feeling I strive to have for the rest of my life.

As for future plans, I did end up changing my major slightly in the middle of this internship. It had nothing to do with the internship or company it just allowed me to have more mobility within my professional career. I switched from biomedical engineering to material science and engineering with a specialization in biomaterials. This switch is still heavily involved in the processes I went through during my internship. It also allows me to branch off out of the medical side of things if I need to. I am still very thankful for this opportunity and want to continue on the path I was originally on.

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