When Life Gives You Lemons
By Mike Stinchcomb, Design Engineer Intern
About 2 years ago I tried to shoe ski down a huge, snowy, slick hill on my way to class (as any college kid would), which resulted in me falling pretty hard on some ice. After my fall, I experienced sharp and persistent pain in my hip. I saw a few doctors who were having trouble finding the root of the problem. I went through 6 months of tests, physical therapy, MRIs, x-rays, and ultrasounds until the doctors were finally able to diagnose me with femoroacetabular impingement. This is a fairly rare condition and the treatment varies from patient to patient. For me, surgery was the solution. When all was said and done, it had taken nearly 15 months for me to go from being injured to fully recovered. For a person who spends a good chunk of their average day either running, biking, swimming, climbing, skiing, or doing any number of physical activities, this injury was tough.
During this time of being injured, I was trying to figure out what I wanted to accomplish with the strong passion for engineering I have. Through my injury, I was both amazed by the capabilities in current healthcare and driven by a passion to help people who are experiencing the same frustration I did. I knew I wanted to use my skills in engineering to advance the medical device industry and that‘s when I came across Tekna.
From a distance, I was interested in Tekna because they do a lot of work in the medical device industry, but when I came in for an interview, my perspective of the company deepened. It became clear to me that Tekna is a needle-in-a-haystack company. From the creative, fun, and dynamic work environment, to the highly skilled, friendly, and hard-working employees, I knew it was where I wanted to intern.
During my first week on the job, I sat down with my internship mentor, Kelly, and we put together a laundry list of things I wanted to learn and accomplish during my internship. To my amazement, and eternal appreciation, she made a way for me to get around to all of them. I wanted to be involved in medical device projects, and I worked on several. I wanted design experience, and I designed multiple components and systems for real projects. I wanted experience with testing, and I designed testing fixtures, wrote test protocols, and performed tests. I wanted to be more proficient in Solidworks, and they let me sit in on simulation and surfacing training sessions. I wanted to learn Arduino, and they taught me. I wanted to learn manufacturing processes, and they let me go on every supplier visit scheduled for the summer. The team at Tekna continuously went out of their way to help me develop foundational, professional skills that they knew I would need in my career.
This servant-hearted leadership is a big part of the company culture at Tekna. If you’re interested in learning something, you’re provided opportunities to pursue that interest. You’re constantly being pushed to grow in your profession. If you have questions or need help, people gladly take time out of their day to assist you. Any one employee will give advice or feedback on your project regardless of whether or not they are working on it too. Nobody shifts the blame, they own up to their mistakes. And it’s not frowned upon to make a mistake. After all, there are very few inventive designs in the world that don’t have a history of failure.
This internship has been foundational in my professional development and has provided me with skills and experience that I will carry with me throughout my career. It’s given me an opportunity to do what I love and help the people I’m passionate about helping — all in an incredible work environment with incredible people. Thank you, Tekna!