Internship at Helmholz Institute of Biomedical Engineering, Germany

Helmholz Institute of Biomedical Engineering is located in Aachen, as a part of RWTH Aachen University. The institute consists of seven smaller research groups. I have pursued an internship in one of those groups, namely The Chair of Medical Information Technology (MedIT). The main focus of MedIT is personalized healthcare and automation in medicine. The range of research topics is quite wide – from wearable body sensor networks to automatic control of intracranial pressure. The main workforce at MedIT are PhD students. They receive some help from undergraduate students (and of course from interns like me), and some supervision from senior scientists.

During my internship I was working directly with one of the PhD students on a topic “Driver State Monitoring”. At the beginning of my internship I was required to sign a non-disclosure agreement, therefore I could not discuss the details of the project here, but I will do my best. This project itself has a long history at MedIT and is being conducted in collaboration with Ford Europe. The goal of the project is to create a system, which would be able to recognize health issues of the driver as well as fatigue and other dangerous cases, based on a large amount of information obtained from various sensors in the vehicle. Such system could alert the driver or communicate with the vehicle system, and for example – stop the vehicle at the roadside safely, if required. I have joined the project at the stage where the data acquisition system was almost ready. I helped to test the system and to fix the bugs, but most of my tasks were related to signal processing. I created tools for data pre-processing and parameter extraction using Matlab and Python. At the end of my internship I presented my results to the entire staff of MedIT in a 20 minute meeting. I have received very positive evaluation from my supervisor and I think that I have made a significant contribution to the project’s success.

However, that is not the only side of the story. Most of the time I was really challenged with the problems and learned a lot by trying to solve them. For example, I had to implement some signal processing methods, which I knew about, but have never tried to make them work before. Moreover, I have:

  • got to know myself better in terms of career related questions;
  • got a lot more self-organized;
  • improved my communication skills;
  • improved my English and German skills;
  • even got a job offer in Germany!

I have always thought that MedIT is one of the best research institutions in the field of Biomedical Engineering. My internship there only proved that to me.

I want to say thank you to MedIT team, who accepted me and integrated me well into their group. A big thank you also goes to Erasmus+ program and the responsible parties back in Lithuania for supporting this opportunity.

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