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NATIONAL SCIENCE WEEK – SCIENCE A STRONG FOUNDATION

7 August 2017

Did you know that the foundations of Medtronic began with a trip to a matinee movie in circa 1934?

At the age of eight or nine, Earl was watching a showing of Boris Karloff’s 1931 Frankenstein – the story of a ‘mad scientist’ who brings to life a man he has created in his laboratory. Earl was fascinated by electricity and the opportunities beyond lighting in a room. His interest sparked. Through High School Earl drew plans for rocket ships, radios, and futuristic houses with wiring. He was also the first person students or teachers would call to care for the town-address system, movie projector and other electrical equipment at school.

It was a few years later that his church leader suggested Earl direct his interest in science towards benefiting human kind. Science was in his mind and heart. Along with his brother-in-law Palmer Hermundslie, Earl founded Medtronic on Friday 29 April 1949. You can read more about the Medtronic story here.

Medical technology relies on all branches of science – Natural science, Social science, Formal science and Applied science. Our team work across all branches – continually learning and evolving our technologies and ourselves. It’s a passion we share with partners throughout the community.

This National Science Week we want to celebrate science, the difference it makes to the community, provide stories about some of our inventions and introduce you to members of our team. You can share your stories below, or on twitter. Tag #medtechscience, #natsciwk

MEET A MEMBER OF OUR TEAM:  Darren ForrestDarren Forrest_2

Role: Director of Quality and Regulatory Affairs

Qualifications: BEng (Hons), MMedSci and PhD

BEng (Hons) – Bachelor of Engineering in Materials Science and Engineering

MMedSci – Masters of Medical Science in Medical Physics and Clinical Engineering

PhD – Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Fatigue failure of a coated titanium implant alloy

Tenure with Medtronic: 7 years and 2 months

Can you please describe the science behind regulation?  In the most simplistic terms the science behind regulations is based on the fundamentals of experimentation and the reproducibility of results. My role in Regulatory is to ensure devices we manufacture behave in the way they were designed to and that the clinical benefit to patients is real and definable.

In your mind, why is science an important foundation? Science is a foundation to solving real world problems. As an example, Earl Bakken was faced with a problem – he needed to keep a patient alive when the grid electricity supply was interrupted. This required consideration of: the theory behind how electricity interacts with the world; the resistance and impedance of our surroundings and of a human body; and, an understanding of how a battery stores energy and releases that energy in a controlled manner. Individually, they are simple scientific concepts – but they were also the foundation for Earl Bakken to turn theory into useful and lifesaving technology.

What did you enjoy most about studying science? The real applications to real world problems. I had a great science teacher who gave me not only the theory behind the science but allowed us to fully understand how to apply the science.

What are the key learnings you have applied in your personal and professional life? The principles of scientific investigation and studies. These skills enable me to prove or disprove theories across all areas of my life, and have allowed me to develop my career in directions I would not been able to predict.

What is your advice to future scientists? Do not be limited by artificial barriers. Science and the application of scientific principles have no barriers. Sometimes the technology to implement ideas is slow to catch up – and sometimes you need to create it – just like Earl.

Please subscribe to our blog. Daily posts for National Science Week 2017.

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