Beginner Looking For Path [Medical Devices]

Thread Starter

electrolearner

Joined Apr 9, 2020
2
Hello all,

I am relatively new to this forum and to the world of analog electronics

Background:
I am a electrical engineering undergrad who has taken a few courses on electromagnetism and electronics. I am familiar with some basic components (resistors, capacitors, inductors, and a tiny bit of semiconductors) and some principles (Ohm's Law, induction, Maxwell's Equations). However, I have never designed my own circuits. I have some experience with microcontrollers, but not much with analog components.

Interests:
My end goal is to design circuits for electronic medical devices (diagnosis, monitoring, wearables, EMG, EEG, etc...). I also have general interests in controls, signal processing, and embedded systems.

The Question:
The thing is, there is a lot of information out there, and I am easily overwhelmed and stuck in analysis paralysis. What path would you all recommend I take to get to designing medical stuff? Books? Particular circuits? Should I focus on first learning basic circuits and fundamental building blocks or should I dive in and learn as I go? I'd like to develop a sort of outline/roadmap of things I should learn and do.
 

MrChips

Joined Oct 2, 2009
26,086
Medical stuff or not, the path is the same.

Continue taking the courses offered related to math, physics, computers, electronics, signal processing. Seek out courses offered on bio-medical physics, health and radiation physics.

What you now need is practical experience.
Get yourself some basic items:
DMM
Power supply (or even two 9V batteries)
Solderless prototyping board
jumper or hookup wire
Components: resistors, capacitors, diodes, transistors, LEDs, opamps, 555-timer, digital circuits.
(You can acquire most of what you need in an electronics starter kit.)

Start building stuff and experimenting.

Here is a list of parts for your interest for starters:
https://forum.allaboutcircuits.com/threads/components-selection-guide.65137/#post-531470
 

MisterBill2

Joined Jan 23, 2018
11,877
I AM an electrical/electronic engineer with a good amount of experience. About 16 years ago I tried to apply for a job servicing and calibrating medical electronics. I learned that for an entrance level position I had to have a Masters degree in medical electronics from one of a very short list of universities.
Unless things have changed, that is a very big leap for a very limited area of employment.
I suggest starting in a more accessible field to gain the skills and credentials.
 

tindel

Joined Sep 16, 2012
876
Sounds like you're doing the right things. You're a EE undergrad. Next step is to find an internship in the medical devices industry.

You likely won't design anything for a med device company for 5-10 years after graduation. If you want to design in the future, they'll bring you in as a test engineer so you learn what they are designing so that you can later design those things. It's rare to get a design job out of college - at least out of undergraduate school. More likely at a startup, but still likely to be a test engineer there, as well.
 

MisterBill2

Joined Jan 23, 2018
11,877
Consider, and plan for, going on beyond the basic BSEE degree, in getting at least an MSEE in medical electronics. That will at least qualify you for an interview at one of the medical systems companies.
 

Thread Starter

electrolearner

Joined Apr 9, 2020
2
I appreciate the replies. I'll be aiming to get a MSEE for sure.

In the meanwhile, I will dive into analog circuits using the book Make: Electronics: Learning Through Discovery 2e by Charles Platt. It provides a bit of theory and quite a few "experiments" (circuits). I can then use resources to dive deep into the theory and use my knowledge to derive mathematical models for each of the circuits.
 

MisterBill2

Joined Jan 23, 2018
11,877
In addition to all of those technical skills, the ability to communicate clearly and accurately is very valuable. If you can't adequately communicate your brilliant ideas it is very difficult to share them. In addition, clear and adequate communication tends to make the jobs go more smoothly.
 
I am an electronics engineer working at a start-up that is designing a test device for a cancer therapy.

I can give some pointers.

As a design engineer, you will need to work at the intersection of physical phenomenon and interpreting data.

I recommend looking at these areas, physical phenomena, sensing physical phenomena, processing data acquired from sensing physical phenomena.

There is so much to learn and master in these topics, that it is split into different specialized jobs.
However, it is good to know some of this since you will work with others to make a design that works well in all of these areas.

Physical phenomena
-Know the basics of the physics / biology of what is being sensed.
This is useful for knowing what to sense and what may affect sensing.

Sensing physical phenomena
-Know analog for obtaining and handling an informative analog signal.
-Know digital for converting the analog signal to a digital signal and also for working with the digital signal
with a computer, FPGA, microcontroller.
-Know pcb design fundamentals since this is the medium of your circuit design.
-Know controls and signal processing to be able to make a stable circuit system that can handle the input signal and manipulate it if needed.

Processing data acquired from sensing physical phenomena
-Know some digital signal processing so that you have an idea of how the information is processed
and what requirements the digital/programming team may have for the input signal.
 

Irving

Joined Jan 30, 2016
2,666
I work with the biomechanical engineering & rehab team at University College London. We do a lot of research & teaching on EEG & EMG, neuro-interfacing and implants, prothesis, neural-stimulation, etc. We run an MSc on biomech and assistive tech and another on surgical robotics.

Apart from an in-depth understanding of basic electronics, both analog & digital, to work in this field you should have a good grasp of instrumentation amplifiers, noise and how to combat it, stabilisation techniques, etc. With respect to EEG/EMG you could do worse than study and intimately understand the datasheets and application guides for chips such as TI's ADS1294, ADS1296 and ADS1299. For implants, wireless power and NFC data transfer techniques, some materials science ref body-safe materials, eg ceramic substrates, hermetic sealing, thermal management (inside the human body is a pretty nasty place).

Medical electronics is a huge field, you cannot hope to encompass it all. Go with what really interests you, the rest will follow...
 

justtrying

Joined Mar 9, 2011
435
Being a biomed tech and having done a project for my program, you need to have a solid understanding of biology behind that technology. It is not "staff". These devices work with real signals from real people and have real implications. If you want to be good, you need to understand where the data and signals come from - real living and breathing individual.

There are many areas, i suggest you pick one of interest to you and concentrate there as was mentioned already.

https://portal.unifiedpatents.com/patents/patent/US-5647368-A

Link to a patent by one of my instructors. The company he founded has been bought by Stryker and this technology is now used in their latest models of surgical towers.
 

MisterBill2

Joined Jan 23, 2018
11,877
Being a biomed tech and having done a project for my program, you need to have a solid understanding of biology behind that technology. It is not "staff". These devices work with real signals from real people and have real implications. If you want to be good, you need to understand where the data and signals come from - real living and breathing individual.

There are many areas, i suggest you pick one of interest to you and concentrate there as was mentioned already.

https://portal.unifiedpatents.com/patents/patent/US-5647368-A

Link to a patent by one of my instructors. The company he founded has been bought by Stryker and this technology is now used in their latest models of surgical towers.
There you have it from an insider! But still keep in mind that communications is also important, because success is a team effort.
 

Irving

Joined Jan 30, 2016
2,666
It is not "staff".
communications is also important, because success is a team effort.
I agree. Working with clinicians and academics has been a bit of an eye-opener for me. After 40+ years in industry they bring a very different, sometimes frustratingly so, dynamic to the situation. The term "end-user" takes on a whole new meaning!
 
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