CIS Abroad Blog

Online Doesn’t Mean Out of Touch | A Virtual Internship in Ecuador

My First Internship

At my school, I am a part of a program that allows students to work, travel, or even research
during the summer. So, throughout my first year at college, I contemplated what path I wanted
to take. Going abroad to maybe Greece or even Korea would be an amazing experience! On
the other hand, getting real world experience in the engineering field would really help my
career path… But my dilemma was fixed when I was introduced to CIS Abroad’s Virtual Global
Internship program.
With the help from my school, I applied and was accepted to intern virtually
in Ecuador.

Putting my (Artificial) Heart Into My Work

I worked with the company RobotsCrate, located in Quito, Ecuador’s capital. During my
internship, I mainly worked as biomedical engineering intern on an artificial heart project. A good
portion of the work was research, but I was able to learn so much about the human heart,
current artificial hearts, other transhumanistic research being done. On my own, my supervisor
wanted to me come up with a way to lessen the damage to the rib cage when heart surgery is
performed. My solution to that problem was a partial titanium rib cage implant. This idea was
inspired from a 3D printed titanium rib cage designed for a cancer patient. Implanting a partial
titanium rib cage would, in theory, decreased the need for snapped ribs to heal.

A titanium rib cage design

I designed my rib cage with the design software, SOLIDWORKS. Another feature I thought about with this was a detachable section of the left ribs in the event the artificial heart would need to be accessed again. Taking my idea as well as research I'd done on biocompatible materials, I worked with 2 other interns to create a singular artificial heart presentation. At the end of our internship, we presented our slideshow to a cardiac physiologist as well as the General Director of the Cardiology Association of Ecuador. I'd like to say I worked hard throughout my entire internship, but I think actually presenting took the most effort out of me!

Work Culture

One thing that surprised me while interning was how we all communicated with each other. I
was expecting an exchange of emails, but we only used Whatsapp to communicate. This gave
me the impression that the work ethic in Ecuador is a little more relaxed than what I know in
America. There was also a lack punctuality when I was interning, it was funny to see that one
time I was late to a meeting, but when I clicked the link my supervisor hadn’t even started the
call! Another instance of a more relaxed work environment. What I really did enjoy about
interning was the individual work I did. Much of what I did was very independent and my
supervisor never really questioned my integrity, fully trusting my work. Overall, I would describe
the work ethic in Ecuador to be more communal, almost familial.

In The End

I really enjoyed my virtual global internship. There were many things for me to learn and skills to
improve on in just 7 weeks. I will definitely cherish my first internship for a very long time,
looking back during my future career.

Want some advice on Virtual Internships? Read Avery's 5 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Started my Virtual Internship blog!