Student Placement Blog

Mi3 News


Student placements providing valuable experience whilst increasing employability, can be highly rewarding for both students and employers and with the recruitment marketplace demands and competitiveness ever increasing, a placement can help develop a sought after skillset before graduation! 

Mi3 has had a student join the team for a 12 month placement over the last two years. In July 2021, following the success of these placements, Mi3 decided to take on four students from different universities to participate in “A Year in Industry”. Over the course of the year, the students will post multiple blog entries, to showcase their experience and highlighting some of the key activities they are involved in. The blog will be written by all the students as a collaboration.


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Monthly Blog

Each month one of our students discusses their progress in the programme, how they're feeling, the challenges they face and the projects they're working on.  Click on the series of links below to see how they're getting on!

 

First impressions as a student intern at Mi3

Luke takes at look at the first few weeks as he started his placement at Mi3...

Introduction

The first six weeks at Mi3 form the induction process. This allows new starters to gain exposure to all aspects of the business, whilst also providing the perfect opportunity to meet everybody. I believe that to be successful in the role as a Design Engineer at Mi3, it is crucial for us to have an in-depth understanding of all aspects of the business. I have detailed below what our first six weeks looked like, and what a new starter could expect to be involved in.

First few days

The first days at Mi3 consisted mainly of learning and understanding many of the processes and procedures that take place within the company. This helped get us up to speed quite quickly, meaning that we could get stuck into work much sooner. we had a site tour and met people from various departments.

First few weeks

For the next few weeks, we spent much of our time in the operational areas of the company. This began in the warehouse, where we were shown the processes for sending and receiving goods, as well as providing materials and equipment to the clean rooms. We then spent roughly three weeks in the production areas, across both clean room environments at Mi3. I worked on various assembly tasks alongside the production staff and developed a true appreciation for the work that they do. This has given me a much better understanding of ‘Design for Manufacturability’ by helping me to consider the assembly process when designing new products.

Later induction with office departments

For the remaining weeks of the induction, we were upstairs in the office, where we spent plenty of time with members of each department. This gave helpful insight and understanding in areas such as Supply Chain and Quality Management and allowed us to meet every person in the building.

The open plan office is a very friendly environment which I found to be welcoming, especially due the inclusion of an ‘open door policy’ applied to all managers’ offices. This meant that all members of senior management, as well as the managing director, are easily approachable and within reach.

Beginning project work

After six weeks of induction and training we joined the Engineering & Product Design team. We immediately started work helping the team with a handful of interesting projects, ranging from design concepts to establishing process techniques and bespoke equipment. I gained a lot of responsibility with the tasks I was given, and quickly got used to working in the team. Some of the tasks I personally worked on include writing and carrying out testing protocols, CAD modelling and rapid prototyping using a 3D printer. I also reached out to different companies to retrieve quotes for parts and prototype models.

Summary

I found the induction very useful for understanding how the business works and enjoyed meeting everybody from each department. I felt that this was an opportunity which would unlikely be a part of the placement in a larger business and is an advantage of working within a Small and Medium-sized Enterprise (SME) like Mi3. The other students and I look forward to the rest of the year working on different projects with the EPD team.

About the author - Luke Almond - Luke is a second-year student at Liverpool John Moore’s University studying Product Design Engineering and has interests in medical device design and 3D CAD modelling, hoping to use the year in industry at Mi3 to further develop existing skills and gain experience in all aspects of a business. Following his placement at Mi3, Luke will return to Liverpool to undertake his final year of the Product Design Engineering course.

 

 

Five things I have learnt as a student intern at Mi3

Maryam looks at the things she's learnt in the first few months at Mi3

There is no doubt that university and industry are two completely different environments, and as students it is tempting to convince ourselves to plan our whole career within academia because that’s our comfort zone. However, there is no denying the fact that spending time in industry opens doors to endless opportunities and experiences which will develop us further into more well-rounded individuals who understand more about the world of work than just what our degrees taught us. So far, a quarter of the way through the year, this placement has definitely not disappointed in serving its purpose of exposing us to the industry. Below, I have listed five things that I have learnt so far as a Student Intern at Mi3.

Commercial awareness is key

Over the past three months, I have learnt that simply picking the most expensive and precise manufacturing methods and tooling is not always the best option. In fact, it very rarely is, purely because it is not worth the cost. While studying at university, I came across all sorts of state-of-the-art equipment and whenever there were projects that needed them, there was never any need for consideration of cost as they were readily available. However, since starting this placement, I have come to learn that there are almost always alternatives which would do the job without breaking the bank, and especially because the only way for a business to survive is to make profit, minimising costs is a top priority. Finding a compromise between quality and cost is essential for the success of a company.

The medical device industry is highly regulated

Prior to starting my year in industry, I was vaguely aware of how strict the medical device industry’s regulations are given the nature of the products. However, it was only when it got to writing up protocols and technical documents did I realise how detailed the rules are, and with the transfer from MDD to MDR, the guidelines are only going to get more stringent. What I have seen so far is only a drop in the ocean, but I am keen to gain experience and learn more about what it takes to survive as a business in this sector.

So many documents…

From CAD drawings to specifications and NDAs, everything is documented. Any time a document is updated, its previous revisions must be archived but not deleted. There are templates for every form, specification, and work instruction. There are even rules for how some details must be filled in, such as the date. If a mistake is made in a document, there are measures taken to ensure that there is traceability. Of course, these are all done as a precaution to ensure that if ever something was to go wrong, we could trace back to the root of the problem. While the learning curve to this has been steep, I can say without a doubt that the steps taken when creating and updating documents are becoming more and more familiar, and I have hope that there will come a day when I will be able to write up a document without asking a thousand questions on how to structure it, why we need it, who it is for, where to find information, who needs to approve of it and so many more.

How a business operates

Being a student intern within the Engineering department means that I tend to interact with the same people on a regular basis. However, when it comes to executing a project, collaboration is needed between departments, for example, parts may be needed from the Warehouse and operators may have to be requested from Production. All of this requires constant communication between the different departments of the business and keeping track of what has been done. Some other skills that I’ve learnt over the past three months is how to contact suppliers, and more importantly, how to follow up with them to get things moving. Moreover, from an engineering perspective, having spent almost three weeks in Mi3’s Production cleanroom helping with the manufacture of orders, I have come to realise the importance of simplifying designs as much as possible to make the operators’ jobs easier.

The importance of planning and time management

It is easy to think that with a solid plan, a project will run smoothly with no hiccups and that everyone will prioritise it and follow the schedule exactly how you wanted. However, when you have a request for another team, for example, but they also have a job that is critical for the business, what you need is not necessarily at the top of their priority list.  I quickly came to learn that taking these lags between activities into account when creating plans is a must, otherwise the project length will be severely underestimated and as much as you want other departments to cooperate with you, you need to cooperate and be understanding with them just as much.

Final reflections …

Joining Mi3 has been an experience, sort of like joining a marathon midway and trying to catch up, but it keeps me on my toes, and I learn something new every day. I look forward to the rest of the internship and seeing what else is in store for me.

About the author - Maryam Kurrimboccus - Maryam has just completed her third year of Materials Science and Engineering with Biomaterials at the University of Manchester. With interests in the medical device industry, she has taken an interruption year to gain more of an insight into what it takes to be part of a business like Mi3 and develop her skills further. After she finishes her placement, Maryam will return to university to complete her Masters in Materials Science and Engineering.

A day at Mi3 from the perspective of a placement student

This month, Angelos goes through what a typical day for him looks like...

Having a set, daily schedule is a very interesting “concept” in someone’s life, at least in my opinion. Waking up at a set time and taking the correct means of transport, to be on time for work, can be challenging, especially if it’s compared to our previous lifestyle, in the University.

In “Uni”, as students like to call it, we normally wake up 20-30 minutes before the lecture (no matter the time), get dressed, and walk to the campus. If you live next to the campus, just like I used to, the whole process needs less stress, as you will need 5-10 minutes, instead. In Uni, we spend a couple of hours around campus, going from lecture halls to labs, and from the coffee shop to the library, and after all is done, we go out, or to our friend’s house, to” relax and take a breather”. Every student needs to relax after a hard day and all this walking around, and, let’s be honest, no one studies anything Uni-related, after Uni, unless it’s the exam period (you should study though, studying is good). The overall lifestyle is relaxed, with some ups and downs here and there, but now, the “Placement lifestyle” is very different.

Traveling to your placement

As I said before, you will have to commute, because no one lives, or would like to live, next to their workplace. If you drive and you have a car, that’s great, but if you drive but you don’t have a car, like me, life gets hard, and even harder the farther you live.

Personally, I have to take a train, a bus, and walk a bit, to get to work. It is not as bad as it sounds, it’s a total of 30 minutes travelling, 10-15 minutes of waiting and 10 minutes of walking (enough exercise for a day, considering I have to do this twice a day, adding an extra 10-minute walking distance from my home to the station). All this travelling wakes me up too, so I do not mind at all, especially when I have my headphones on. So, after 40-45 minutes, I arrive to Mi3, ready to scan myself in using my fingerprint, because technology and automation are amazing.

Daily life

Now, let’s jump into my perspective and point-of-view. I am in, scanned through the door, feeling like a secret agent entering his underground office, and now it’s time to go to my desk. Yes, I have my own desk. Nothing fancy or super private, there is the “open door” policy in this company after all, but it is still decent and spacious enough for me. It is time to stick to the 1-2-3 rule (I made that up since starting).

  1. Turn the computer on and log in
  2. Get your agenda/diary/weekly planning notebook and a pen
  3. Open your emails

Emails and your agenda are your best friends during your placement. That is because everything that happens will be either sent through via email, or in person, so always carry your agenda.

After I check my emails and identify the updates regarding previous tasks, I dive into my personal work schedule. In there, I write all the tasks I have to do, and categorise them by “Due Date”. Doing so, helps me keep track of my progress on all of my projects and tasks, and makes sure that I complete everything on time. Thus, I pick the most critical deadlines and work on those tasks for the day.

For today, I have to do a couple of things, starting off with “Specifications Updates”. For that, I should find out more about the new material that is going to replace the material we currently use for 5 components. It is not that hard. I have already emailed the supplier to give me the “Technical Data Sheet” and the “Safety Data Sheet”, so I can now do the “fun” part. I need to find the material the supplier uses, replace it in the old “Product Specifications” document, add a few details here and there, replace the safety procedure, which gives an overview of how to handle this material, and after all the changes are made, I can print the new document, together with an approval form, and give it to my line manager for review. When he reviews it, I will go around the office, give it to the corresponding managers for review, and if they are happy and sign it, I can then publish it in the QMS (Quality Management System) folder as a “Live Document”. Paperwork. I know… I don’t enjoy it either, but it is necessary for medical devices, so I must not avoid it.

Task number 2 is… CAD (Computer Aided Design)! Great! That’s a job for an engineer, right? So, what do we have here? Design this part for that product, based on the customer’s specifications… OK, I can do that! I will open Solidworks, pick a plane, click Sketch, and start drawing. You know the drill.

Ok, it’s been 2 hours, since I started it and I think it’s done. My line manager approved it, so it is ready to… Oops! Forgot to make the drawing. That does not take time. A few clicks here and there, put those views, some measurements, update the table, print it... Done! Easy! Time to make my second tea. Hydration is a very important. Also, don’t forget to stand up occasionally and take a breather, it is very important and encouraged, especially by the HSE (Health, Safety and Environment) department.

 Task number 3: 3D Print the prototypes I designed yesterday. I really like doing that.

I believe 3D printers are amazing. First things first, I need to slice the CAD models and make the appropriate settings so that the 3D printer will be able to... print them. I will change the material from Nylon to PLA (its more environmentally friendly), and will remove the support material, as I don’t need it. Ok, click slice… 4 hours of printing. Not too bad. I need to set the 3D printer up now as well. Following the Work Instructions, I need to remove the old material, put the new one, and press start printing. Ready! See you in 4 hours. Setting up the 3D printer takes me around 30 minutes, depending on the speed that the 3D printer warms up and the time it takes to calibrate the building plate. Sometimes it’s a hassle but, I like it.

Task number 4… Meetings! So, in 10 minutes I need to attend an online call with a FEA (Finite Element Analysis) company, for some parts that we need to assess. It normally takes 30 minutes which is not too bad, but, after that, I need to run to a meeting room for a small meeting with my Line Manger. I can do that.

So, the meeting with the FEA company went well, they understood what we need and after giving them the materials of each component, they can do the analysis and hopefully by next week, we will have the results and conduct a report for the clients. That is next week’s task then, which I should now write down. Don’t forget to fill in the agenda. In 5 minutes, I have the meeting with my Line Manager. It is a 1-to-1 meeting that we have every week, in which we talk about the workload of the week, how I am doing with the tasks, what’s next, and an overview of how I find it so far in the company; Busy, but Good Busy!

What’s next, what’s next… Oh… Lunch Break! Best time of the day. Those 30 minutes off, are very helpful to relax and forget work for a couple of minutes.

I am back. Task 5: Measurements in the cleanroom.

That’s a very nice task, because I am working with another placement student. Firstly, we need to change. Put on a hairnet before getting in the changeroom, clean our hands, wear our “Tyvek Coveralls” and gloves, and get in the cleanroom. Time to work. We are measuring each component that came from the Injection Moulder and write our results down. Then I will put all these results in an “Excel” sheet and do data analysis, so we can find out, which are the best settings for injection moulding those specific parts. That will take us around 2 hours.

Measuring is done! It’s been two and half hours, but it was worth it. We measured everything and now, I will go to my desk, put the data in, analyse them and send them to one of our line managers, who is responsible for the whole project.

Ok, I input the data and did the data analysis I had to do. It was not very hard, more time consuming than hard, I’d say. What’s left…oh wow, it’s 16:10, almost time to go. I will quickly fill my agenda with the last task I did, write them on my work schedule, so tomorrow I will be sure that they are done. Also, a quick check on my emails. Nothing special, as it seems, it was a quiet day.

Time to head off! Bye-Bye, everyone, see you tomorrow. Oh yeah, tomorrow is Friday! Shorter day, breakfast in the office and hopefully a sunny/warm day. Also, I have less tasks, considering that I did a lot today, but there is always a chance for a new surprise.

Final thoughts

As I said before, “work lifestyle” is far different than “Uni lifestyle”. It is more arranged and fuller, but it helps you get accustomed to it, as in your future career, you will have similar schedules. That is the reason I am enjoying is so much at Mi3. Although there are drawbacks (waking up early, traveling, working hard, the advantages and the things you do, outweigh them by far. Finally, you practise and improve your own skillset daily, but you also learn a lot of new things and develop new skills, that will help you further on your future career and life. Skills like teamwork, time management, socialising and “networking” are some of those. The rest… You will identify them on your placement.

About the author - Angelos Stavropoulos – Angelos is a third-year student at the University of Bradford, studying Biomedical Engineering and is interested in Prosthetics and Tissue engineering, hoping to use the year in industry at Mi3 to further develop existing skills, apply his knowledge in practise and understand in depth the medical field, from a manufacturing perspective. Following his placement at Mi3, Angelos will return to Bradford to progress with his studies, doing a Master’s in Biomedical Engineering

 

Overcoming worries & concerns

Mariaye opens up about her initial worries and concerns as she started her placement with Mi3.  Learn how she has coped...

Mi3’s Technical Student Placement serves as the ideal stage between university and work to learn as much as possible about what it takes to work in the Medical Devices industry. The responsibilities and challenges of the role are comparable to those of a permanent employee at Mi3 however, there is also the focus on preparing the students for the start of their engineering careers.

Naturally, the transition from university to work life can be daunting; as students and recent graduates, the Year in Industry marks the extent of our engineering experience and yet, we are working amongst many experienced and talented engineers. Nevertheless, it has only been two months since the third cohort of students started at the company and Mi3 has already helped us overcome many of the worries that we had prior to starting. Hence below are some examples from myself and the other students of how we overcame the fears we had in anticipation of the role.

 

I would be thrown into the deep end and expected to know what I’m doing as soon as I start. 

The induction process was very comprehensive; we were able to experience the other roles of the company to gain a well-rounded understanding of the product lifecycle. There is always the opportunity to be trained further if ever we feel as though we need it. Within the last two months our responsibilities have gradually increased in a challenging but enjoyable way.

Also, the fact that there is more than one student is reassuring as we can relate to each other with regards to facing new types of challenges.

 

The workload would be too overwhelming.

We have weekly workload reviews and 1-1s with our line manager where we have dedicated time for discussing progress, workloads and any other general issues. If ever we do feel overwhelmed and concerned about meeting deadlines, the line managers are very supportive in helping to resolve any concerns we may have. Ultimately, project delivery is a team effort and so there is no problem in seeking extra help from other colleagues.

 

It would seem like I ask too many questions. 

From day one questions were welcomed and we were reassured that this would continue to be the case throughout our time at Mi3. Everybody in the office, including senior management are very friendly and happy to answer any of our questions. We are certainly not judged by the number of questions we have; in fact, our curiosity (or diligence when we request clarification) is often supported.

 

I would be more of a hinderance than some help, especially during my time in Production.

The students spent two weeks in Production helping to assemble the products manufactured at Mi3. The main purpose of this time was to understand the challenges faced during manufacturing so that they may be considered during our design work. Hence, we were treated the same as any new operator which was empathetically. The team leaders were really encouraging and kindly spent time to demonstrate the assembly processes (multiple times if we were still unsure). Additionally, they expressed appreciation for our suggestions for improvement; even though we are interns and new to the industry, they valued our contribution.

 

I didn’t feel confident talking with suppliers and customers.  

Telephone and email etiquette is not taught at school or university; it is essential but can only be learned through practice at work. Even normal emails and phone calls especially would make me nervous let alone communicating on behalf of the company. As mentioned previously, if I’m ever unsure about how to word a message or what to say over the phone, my line manager is happy to provide support. Even though it may seem like silly questions there is no judgement.

Within the last two months my confidence has grown with regards to communicating with contacts outside of Mi3. This has been due to the support of my line manager and due to practice.

 

I wouldn’t have any free time.  

I initially thought that the transition from university to work would be more difficult regarding time management since the typical university day is much less structured. However, at university, the work is more condensed since term time only lasts around seven months. This led to periods where I would have no free time and then others where I would have too much. Therefore, in my opinion, the amount of work is similar to that of university however now, the work is more consistent. Consequently, the work-life balance is not only more consistent bus also more definitive. In addition, the set times help with developing effective time management habits as well.

CONCLUSIONS

Since starting at Mi3, my development has already exceeded my expectations. Having overcome these initial worries, I feel much more confident at work. These fears are not specific to medical devices and so, I will be able to apply what I have learnt all throughout my working life.

About the author - Mariaye Marshall-Dowe - Mariaye is a Technical Placement Intern working as part of the Engineering & Product Development team. She has recently graduated from the University of Leeds with a Master’s in Mechatronics and Robotics. Her studies gave rise to/prompted her interest in medical technology which she is now pursuing at Mi3. Through the placement role she intends/aims to expand her technical knowledge and industry skills regarding medical devices to establish a well-rounded/firm foundation for the start of her career.

Meet the Students!

Luke Almond

Luke is a second-year student at Liverpool John Moore’s University studying Product Design Engineering and has interests in medical device design and 3D CAD modelling, hoping to use the year in industry at Mi3 to further develop existing skills and gain experience in all aspects of a business. Following his placement at Mi3, Luke will return to Liverpool to undertake his final year of the Product Design Engineering course.

Mariaye Marshall-Dowe

Mariaye Marshall-Dowe is a Technical Placement Intern working as part of the Engineering & Product Development team. She has recently graduated from the University of Leeds with a Master’s in Mechatronics and Robotics. Her studies prompted her interest in medical technology which she is now pursuing at Mi3. Through the placement role she aims to expand her technical knowledge and industry skills regarding medical devices to establish a well-rounded for the start of her career.

Maryam Kurrimboccus

Maryam has just completed her third year of Materials Science and Engineering with Biomaterials at the University of Manchester. With interests in the medical device industry, she has taken an interruption year to gain more of an insight into what it takes to be part of a business like Mi3 and develop her skills further. After she finishes her placement, Maryam will return to university to complete a Masters in Materials Science and Engineering.

Angelos Stavropoulos

Angelos is a third-year student at the University of Bradford, studying Biomedical Engineering and is interested in Prosthetics and Tissue engineering. He is hoping to use the year in industry at Mi3 to further develop existing skills, apply his knowledge in practise and understand in depth the medical field, from a manufacturing perspective. Following his placement at Mi3, Angelos will return to Bradford to progress with his studies, doing a Master’s in Biomedical Engineering.