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MIT Student’s Artistic Approach to Medical Device Design

A prolific artist, Jessica Xu, apart from Medical Device design, she has explored several media including pen and ink, watercolor, and colored pencil. During her MIT time, she expanded her horizon beyond simple traditional media. Places on campus are turned into works of art. Xu was very eager to focus on matters related to health and Medical Device design at MIT.

She was drawn towards the development of solutions for people to live more independently. While deciding her major, she found her home in mechanical engineering. She says, “I landed on mechanical engineering in particular because I realized I’m much more energized working closely with end users to develop solutions. Because of my background as an artist, I also tend to think in more physical or spatial terms, which made mechanical engineering a good fit.”

In her sophomore year, during fall she enrolled in MIT’s Therapeutic Technology Design and Development Lab as a research assistant. Ellen Roche, the associate professor of mechanical engineering, guided and helped Xu to design a minimally invasive delivery system for a patch that could be used to be placed on a beating heart.

Recently, she also helped to design a delivery tool for an implantable ventilator that actively moves a person’s diaphragm. Roche said, “Jessica is a methodical, creative, and talented engineer and an excellent communicator. She has been an absolute pleasure to work with on these two projects. Her mature understanding of the engineering design process enhanced the devices our team has been working on.”

In the same semester, Jessica started working with Roche to work on therapeutic devices. The project aims to address the lack of wheelchair accessibility in developing regions, especially in countries like India.

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