After completing an experience and expertise-building internship this summer, junior Biomedical Engineering student Elizabeth Perry is excited about the opportunity to build on that momentum with her studies at the Cullen College of Engineering this year and next.
She received the offer for the internship at Boston Scientific, a medical device manufacturing and research company with more than $9 billion in yearly revenue, on a virtual call while she was attending the Black Engineering of the Year Awards STEM Conference in February 2021. Perry attended the conference thanks to a fee waiver from PROMES.
“When I received the offer during the call, I was surprised that it would happen so smoothly,” Perry said. “There were so many other attendees and they saw my resume and wanted me as an intern. I was so thankful and immediately told my family afterwards.”
Perry completed the internship from May 2021 through August 2021, working an 8-5 schedule throughout.
“I got the opportunity to work in their Research and Development Department,” she said. “My manager gave me a main project of developing a Graphical User Interface [GUI] through MATLAB for image processing. In other words, it was an app that would help the engineers efficiently research images through endoscopes and improve the quality where needed. Since I was only there for three months, this was the framework for the GUI, and they should be able to easily add new features to it in the future.”
Perry added, “My manager also let me develop test methods, and test the performance of endoscopes in my spare time of the work day. I would split my days into two halves – I would perform tests in the lab in the morning, and then code in the afternoon. I enjoyed being able to work on multiple things at once so that I wouldn’t get burnt out.”
After two years at the University of Arkansas, Perry transferred to UH for academic reasons, and to be closer to home. Perry is a graduate of Kingwood High School in the Humble ISD.
“I have grown a lot and have met great people and mentors at UH, but I still stay in contact with friends at the University of Arkansas and we stay up to date on each other’s accomplishments,” she said. “During the time at UH, I’ve been able to get out of my comfort zone and grow as a person. For example, I became an undergraduate teaching assistant [UTA] for ENGI 1331 my second semester at UH and then became a PROMES ambassador after a year. I encourage others to get out of their comfort zone a little from time to time.”
Once she got to UH, Perry identified two faculty members who have been significant, positive influences for her.
“My first actual mentor was Ms. Minerva Carter from PROMES,” Perry said. “She had reached out to me through email when I first transferred in Fall 2020 saying terms like 'Women of PROMES Student Leader' and then 'PROMES Scholar.' I was confused at first as to why she wanted to mentor me, but Mrs. Carter definitely made the right choice in reaching out to me. She helps me set goals for each semester and mentors me on networking with other professionals, applying for scholarships and getting out of my comfort zone. The best thing she does is being honest with me on what I'm excelling at and what I need to improve on. PROMES and being a Women of PROMES Student Leader has contributed immensely to my growth.”
Perry also mentioned Dan Burleson, Ph.D., an Instructional Associate Professor, as another mentor.
“I have been a UTA for him for a year now and have enjoyed helping students succeed,” Perry said. “He’s very relatable with all the UTAs and cares for the students just like we do. Dr. Burleson is open to listening to our ideas on ways we can improve the course and help students better. We also have occasional Animal Crossing conversations.”
Given how positive her internship experience was overall, Perry said it reinforced her desires for her career after she graduates in May 2023.
“At the end of the internship, I felt satisfied and proud of the work that I did,” she said. “The projects I worked on contributed to the company and its employees. I learned to be more confident in myself and the work that I do and to always ask questions if I need help.”
The idea of getting involved with industry is very appealing to Perry right now.
“After graduating, I want to go straight into an industry job,” she said. “Boston Scientific is an option, but I’ve also been interested in Abbott as well because they have locations in Texas. While I’m working and learning more about the field, I could go back to school and earn a Master's if I think it’s needed to go further in my career. At this moment, I have no idea what I would do a Masters in and would rather wait until I have a defined goal. So far, I would like to work in Research and Development, but there’s still time left to learn new things.”