This is the next in a series of posts by recipients of the Career Services Summer Funding Grant. We’ve asked funding recipients to reflect on their summer experiences and talk about the industries in which they’ve been spending their summer. You can read the entire series here.
This entry is by Prashant Arya, MSE ’17
I have always been interested in designing new products and coming up with innovative solutions to problems. I was overjoyed when I got an offer from Keriton, a Pumped Breast Milk Management startup, to work as a Product Design Intern. The work I did over the summer has turned out to be my most rewarding and intense internship experience yet.
My first day at Keriton started by going to the NICU at the Hospital of University of Pennsylvania. On my first day, I was given the major task of identifying the core user needs and conduct user interviews. But I guess that is what a startup stands for, you start learning and applying your knowledge from day one. In the initial briefing I was told about the project and within next few hours I was sitting next to a 2-day old pre-mature baby, observing how he was being fed. The basic problem was, when mothers brought in milk bottles for their babies, a lot of time was being wasted in sorting and storing these milk bottles by nurses as the entire process was manual.
I spent the next few days going to the NICU and talked to parents and nurses, sometimes six hours at a stretch. I observed the entire process of feeding the babies which helped me understand the loopholes in the milk feeding process. We even conducted design thinking sessions with the nurses to understand the process flaws.
I was given the task to design a hardware where the nurses would scan and store the incoming milk bottles without relabeling them. I developed many concept ideas and sketches and finally started prototyping. To save money on prototyping we bought a 3D printer. I spent hours designing, modeling, printing and polishing the prints. Our 3D printer broke down 4 times within the first few days because of our intense prototyping.
Finally, our first version of the hardware solution was ready and we presented it at the ILCA conference in Chicago. The feedback from the nurses was just mind-boggling. They had never seen such a simple solution to this problem, that would bring down the time of attending the bottles from 45 mins to 5 mins. All that strengthened our belief further and inspired me to work even harder as we were in the process of solving a real life problem faced by hospitals all over the world.
In these 3 months I made some really good friends at my workplace and also learnt about the difficult situations that come across when you run a business. My CEO, Mr. Vidur S. Bhatnagar was massively supportive and helped me understand the software part of our product. I learnt that one should not be afraid of learning things outside their interest sphere and always strive to acquire new skills. I am trying my hands on coding now and will continue to work at Keriton in the coming year.
I am immensely grateful to the Career Services for supporting this opportunity and me. The lessons I learnt in my internship has allowed me to be one step closer to my goal. Finally, I will never forget what my CEO taught me about having a winning attitude in life by giving an example of a river, which cuts through a rock not because of its power, but because of its persistence.