Driving Advancements in Biopharmaceutical Manufacturing

Interview with Summer Interns

13 Jul 2023

This summer, PAK BioSolutions welcomed two undergraduate interns into the office. Julia Feldhaus is an upcoming third year at University of Michigan, and Viha Chakrapani is an upcoming second year at Johns Hopkins University.

We asked the interns some questions to learn more about them and their experiences.

PAK Bio: What is your major?

Julia: Electrical Engineering

Viha: Biomedical Engineering

PAK Bio: Why did you decide to do a summer internship this year?

Julia: I wanted to get hands-on experience applying what I have learned in my classes. I also wanted to see what it is like to be in the workforce, and to use the experience to help me decide what type of jobs I may want to pursue in the future.

Viha: I was excited to be able to further develop and practically apply the knowledge and skills I had prior to college in a real-world workplace.

PAK Bio: Have you done other internships before?

Julia: In high school I interned at a STEM summer camp, but this is my first real internship in engineering!

Viha: I did a research internship at George Washington University as a high school student, but this is my first internship outside of an academia setting!

PAK Bio: What are you hoping to learn from your time at PAK?

Julia: I am hoping to learn what it is like to work in an office environment, and find out about more possible careers that I am interested in. I am also hoping to develop better project management techniques and learn how to solve problems as they arise.

Viha: I am interested in learning about the impact of continuous processing on manufacturing including the many advantages and current challenges. Through my project in developing a user interface for the process design, I have been learning about the intricacies of the different purification steps while gaining experience in web development. In the next month, I hope to further develop this understanding and shadow more team members at PAK to learn more about the system as well.

PAK Bio: How does this experience compare to your college classes?

Julia: The main difference between internship work and my college classes is the amount of freedom I have to make my own decisions. In school, we are given defined problems where we are expected to apply methods and concepts exactly as we learned them in class. In my internship I often face problems that I have never encountered before, and while solving those problems can be very difficult, I enjoy having the freedom to choose how I will take them on.

Viha: This experience is very different from my college classes as this project is much more independent and on a much larger scale than my classes traditionally are. By working on a project that customers and users will actually use and experience, I also have to pay much more attention to the smaller, minute details to ensure everything does not just function, but is as user-friendly as possible.

PAK Bio: What are your plans for after graduation?

Julia: After graduation, my dream job is to work in research and design of medical or pharmaceutical devices. I really enjoy designing circuits and love the idea of doing electrical engineering work that can have a positive impact on people’s health and well-being.

Viha: As of now, after graduation, I hope to enter the medical technology or pharma industries. However, I am staying open minded and hope to pursue more internships and hands-on experiences in the future in order to determine what types of fields or industries I would like to enter in the future.

PAK Bio: What is the most surprising thing you have learned at PAK so far?

Julia: The most surprising thing I learned at PAK was how much constant research and development goes into even the smallest components.

Viha: The most surprising thing I have learned at PAK so far has been that there is always room for improvement.

PAK Bio: If I had more time at PAK, I would…

Julia: – continue developing and improving upon my summer project. This summer, I worked on designing pH and conductivity transmitters for the PAK system. While I was able to accomplish a lot in the few months I was here, I have so many more ideas that I wish I had time to implement.

Viha: – spend more time working in the lab on the system itself. I would love to spend some time conducting experiments and running tests to get more acquainted with the system. I would also want to learn more about the automation of the system.

PAK Bio: Compared to the beginning of summer, I am now…

Julia: – much more confident in my ability to independently tackle difficult problems. When I first started, I found the idea of facing completely unknown technical problems to be very daunting. Now, I have learned that even very complex problems can be solved by breaking them down into smaller pieces and working through them one step at a time.

Viha: – more adept at problem solving and learning while on the job. One aspect of programming I have now gained lots of experience in is the constant debugging process. In that process, I have learned about many new techniques and features and implemented different logic to ensure my code is functional.

PAK Bio: The song I listened to the most this summer:

Julia: Stick Season by Noah Kahan

Viha: I Can See You by Taylor Swift

PAK Bio: Which of the pack animals would you choose for the company mascot and why?

Julia: I would choose a mountain goat to be the company mascot. Like PAK, mountain goats are pioneers. They are powerful, sure-footed, and resilient as they constantly tackle new terrain. 

Viha: I would pick a camel to be a company mascot. Camels have adapted to the difficult circumstances of living in the desert in a unique and novel way. Similarly, I feel PAK is trying to adapt a challenging process in an innovative and novel way.

PAK Bio: What was your favorite part of the internship experience?

Julia: My favorite part of the internship experience was meeting all the amazing people who work at PAK, and getting to learn about what they do and how they got to where they are in their careers.

Viha: My favorite part of this internship experience has been getting the opportunity to shadow all the PAK employees. It allowed me to understand how the engineering side closely integrates with the manufacturing and testing component, which is all encompassed within the business and marketing of the company.

Well there you have it! Summer was definitely not stick season and we kept everything professional. Let’s innovate like the camel to become the g.o.a.t.

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