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Alumni Spotlight: Preparing to Become a Medical Device Engineer at VISE

Doctor surgeon wearing virtual reality glasses. The surgeon is doing surgery by inserting a camera and using a VR controller.

In hopes of pursuing a career as a medical device engineer, Celia Maiorano sought an interdisciplinary master’s program that adequately prepares students for the industry.

This ultimately led her to find and select Vanderbilt’s novel M.Eng. in surgery and intervention program. Celia describes the program as, "[helping her to] redirect into a new field!" She goes on to say, "I was in the pharma/biotech industry when I graduated from undergrad ... [and] ... there was no 'track' in undergrad for devices or SI ... [the program] really allowed for changing of fields and created unique opportunities".

While in the program, her design project was focused at developing an AI tool for segmenting sonoanatomy and assisting residents while training in an experiential setting to perform pectoral nerve blocks.

Her coursework focused on machine learning applications, computer vision, and medical image processing. She also developed project management skills and an entrepreneurial mindset through other courses such as program and project management.

celia2Tell us a little bit about yourself. Your name, age, background, and undergraduate degree.

My name is Celia Maiorano and I am 23 years old and from New York! I graduated from the University of Maryland (UMD), College Park in 2021 with my B.S. in Bioengineering. Following undergrad, I moved to Baltimore, Md. and worked in the biotech industry for a year before coming to Vanderbilt in the fall of 2022.

What initially attracted you to the Vanderbilt Institute for Surgery and Engineering?

During my senior year at UMD, while searching for jobs, I had my sites set on the medical device industry. Many positions that I was interested in required either 3+ years of experience or a higher degree. This encouraged me to explore higher education.

I found VISE and the M.Eng. program and it was exactly what I was looking for. The program was designed to prepare students for the industry which was something that often lacks in undergraduate programs. Also, having the ability to complete this program in 1 year was extremely appealing to me. After already working in the industry, I wanted to get back into it as soon as possible.

What other master’s degrees were you considering besides the M.Eng. in Surgery and Intervention? What ultimately led you to select the ESI program? 

I was considering a master of science program in biomedical engineering and an M.S. in bioengineering with a specialization in medical product engineering. I ultimately chose Vanderbilt University over these programs mainly due to the appeal of VISE's Innovator track, and the support I felt from Dr. Miga.

What has been the most insightful takeaway you have gained from the ESI program thus far? 

When you truly immerse yourself in a program or experience, there’s no limit to what you can learn. I have learned so many new skills and improved on so many others from undergrad. I never expected to have absorbed so much information from this program in such a short time.

What has been the most challenging aspect of the ESI program? 

Time management and reentering academia from the industry have been the most challenging aspect of the program. Since I am on the Innovator track, I have taken four graduate-level courses both in the Fall and Spring. Learning to balance coursework after being in the industry for a year was a bit of an adjustment.

Where are you now?

Celia accepted a position as a Mobile Body Brain Imaging Data Analyst at the Child Mind Institute, a leading independent non-profit in children’s mental health.  She will be working on studies investigating neural correlates, behavioral and/or cognitive of children, adolescents, and young adults with mental health and learning disorders.

Celia states, “My ESI degree really prepared me perfectly for this position. I developed many of the targeted skills for this role during my time at Vanderbilt, such as medical image processing, programming proficiency, scientific literature review, data handling, and data analysis.”

What advice would you give to a prospective student considering the ESI program? 

Take every opportunity that is given to you! Diving into this program head first has truly been an amazing experience.

Please share about one faculty member who has inspired and positively influenced your experience.

Dr. Miga has been one of the most inspiring, influential and encouraging mentors I have had all throughout my academic and industry career.

From day one of receiving my acceptance letter he has guided me in choosing courses, providing me with all kinds of advice and opportunities and helping me set achievable goals for myself and my time in this program. 

Are you interested in furthering your career in the medical device industry? Consider VISE!

We invite you to explore our M.Eng. in surgery and intervention to learn more about how our interdisciplinary curriculum prepares students to make an impact on various healthcare industries. 

Read more about how surgery and intervention is shaping the next frontier of healthcare in our resource: The Future of Healthcare Technology: Robotic Interventions, Technology-Guided Therapy, and Surgical Data Science.

We also invite you to request more information to get in touch with our graduate admissions team. If you are ready to take the next step into furthering your education in the future of healthcare, apply now!

ESI Pillar Graphic (Instagram Post (Square)) (1)-1Visit our resource page to uncover more about our cutting-edge master of engineering in surgery and intervention program.

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