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Career Connections: Biomedical Engineer

5 minutes

(man) Biomedical engineering, as a discipline, is anywhere where engineering-- people that build and develop things-- intersects with medicine and human health. My name is Chris Pulliam. I work here at Great Lakes NeuroTechnologies, and I am the product manager here. I think our specialty is developing devices for monitoring different signals that the body generates. When my muscles contract, an electrical signal is generated. When I move my eyes, an electrical signal can be recorded. When I'm thinking, certain areas of the brain generate an electric signal. Our hearts generate electrical signals. We have a product that's called the BioRadio. It can be configured to record many different combinations of these electrical signals, and it's used to understand different activities that the body's going through. So, we've configured it to record the muscle activity from the flexor muscles in the forearms, the muscles that come on when you make a fist. Then this is a force sensor that's going to measure how strong Natalie's grip is. We can record directly from the body to get the muscle activity. Externally, we can record the forces that her muscles are generating. This information is captured by the BioRadio and sent to a computer. This top trace shows the muscle activity from Natalie's forearm. The bottom shows the force that she's exerting when she squeezes that hand sensor. The signal is smaller when she's relaxed and bigger when she contracts her muscles. My job, fortunately and unfortunately, is very computer-based. I do a lot of analyzing data. We're doing a lot of mobile app development. We learn how to build an app. Kinesia 360, as an example, is our new mobile application that can be used to remotely monitor individuals that have Parkinson's disease. A patient would put sensors on and go about their day, and we get all that information and try to identify when symptoms are happening. Inside of these Velcro bands is a small wireless motion sensor. On the inside, it has a Bluetooth radio, which allows it to communicate with a smartphone. These are really similar to what's in our smartphones. Many smartphones have sensors so that when you rotate the screen, its orientation changes. Those same types of sensors are in here. They're used to quantify how someone's moving during the day. Engineering is very math-heavy. I still use math and statistics that I learned in high school. Oddly enough, something that people don't think about when they think about engineers is the ability to communicate. I took a creative writing course in high school that taught me how to formulate a persuasive written argument. And since I tend to work in research, I take things I've learned and put them into a paper that's understandable by someone who didn't do the work. Our company's small, but we develop quickly. You can see something go from an idea to an actual product in the span of a year. Suddenly, you have something to give to a patient which might have an impact on their healthcare. So that is really, really rewarding.

Funding to purchase and make this educational production accessible was provided by the U.S. Department of Education.

PH:1-800-USA-LEARN (V) or WEB: www.ed.gov.

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Chris Pulliam is a product manager at Great Lakes NeuroTechnologies. He specializes in designing equipment that monitors different signals the body generates. Biomedical engineers work at the intersection of medicine and engineering. Part of the "Career Connections" series.

Media Details

Runtime: 5 minutes

Career Connections
Episode 1
5 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Career Connections
Episode 2
6 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Career Connections
Episode 3
3 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Career Connections
Episode 4
5 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Career Connections
Episode 5
5 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Career Connections
Episode 6
4 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Career Connections
Episode 7
7 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Career Connections
Episode 8
7 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Career Connections
Episode 9
6 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Career Connections
Episode 10
6 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12