Kelly Gazarik, a University of Colorado Boulder alumna, was at the forefront of creating the Biomedical Engineering Program.
Gazarik graduated with a degree in chemical and biological engineering with a minor in biomedical engineering in 2019. The minor was the only option for her during her time at CU Boulder, so she worked with the engineering council, student government and Professor Mark Borden to launch the Biomedical Engineering Program. She continues to be involved as a member of the BME Industry Advisory Board.
Gazarik now works for Medtronic as a software project engineer. She started her career with the medical device company in 2018 when she completed a summer internship. She then worked for the company part time during her senior year of college, before becoming a full-time engineer in September 2019.
What is your day-to-day like as a software project engineer with Medtronic?
I spend most of my time working with my team to brainstorm new data strategies to improve our medical devices. Half of my time is planning and collaborating with colleagues, while the other half is dedicated to market research and understanding what the medical staff needs. We do a lot of tech development to come up with solutions that will suit physicians’ needs.
What inspired you to enter the biomedical engineering field?
Like a lot of engineers, we are here to solve problems and improve lives. I felt like this was the best place I could contribute and make an impact on the world. I was always fascinated with medicine and I think adding an engineering degree to that allows you to have so much more power in what you can create. It opens so many doors to impactful opportunities.
How does your work benefit society?
Right now, we are working on incorporating data and AI to improve healthcare. We want to reduce the cognitive load for surgeons to drive better patient outcomes and increase learnings. We are trying to build some equity in the health care system. Our idea is that if we can democratize some of this technology, everyone can have a better playing field and access. Whether someone is a new doctor that needs training or a physician that has been in the business for a while and needs a refresher, this can be something that everyone can have as a tool to learn and improve.
What are some obstacles you have faced and how did you overcome them?
One of the hardest processes for me was marketing myself as a strong biomedical engineering candidate. Even with the BME Program becoming more established, it’s a question that we are still asking ourselves. How can we make sure biomedical engineers are hirable and marketable? I think the best way to achieve that is through networking. At CU Boulder, students can make connections through the Biomedical Engineering Society and tap into the biomedical engineering professors. They can help make students excellent candidates for the market.
What advice do you have for current biomedical engineering students?
My advice would be to have a little fun and try to find something that serves you in a different way than classes would. Get involved in a society or project that interests you – something that gives you a little bit more drive and that you can invest your time into. Preferably those projects are related to biomedical engineering, but it also not be! There are so many experiences that can be transferable, from building rockets to studying public health. You can sell pretty much any of the wonderful programs at CU Boulder to be an advantage for a biomedical engineering career since it’s so diverse.
What was your favorite part about being a Buff?
We have a really strong engineering program. The rigor of the coursework really speaks to students’ success and the engineering faculty and staff are so supportive. Not to mention that our campus is just beautiful. Being in Boulder is so incredible!
BME Industry Perspective is a series of articles highlighting professionals in the biomedical engineering field who have a breadth of experience, knowledge and advice to share with our future biomedical engineers. Follow along to learn about their work and how each of these engineers are helping impact society.