Immersed in a different culture, junior Hane Lee applied her programming and technical skills at IBA Worldwide
Seeking new cultural experiences
As an intern at IBA Worldwide in Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium, Hane Lee drew upon both her academic and personal experiences. Hane, a rising senior, grew up with “a more or less international background” and was seeking an opportunity to witness different cultural traditions than the ones she knew best. She found this opportunity at Professor Benoît Macq’s lab, which specializes in 3D image processing. Macq’s lab is affiliated with both the Université Catholique de Louvain (UCL) and Ion Beam Applications (IBA) Worldwide, a company which grew out of UCL. IBA Worldwide is now one of the world’s leading companies in cancer treatment. Its main area of research is proton therapy, which is largely considered one of the most effective cancer treatment methods.
Experience and experimentation
Hane worked primarily with the Patient Positioning System (PPS) team. Their main focus is the hardware and software which enable the correct positioning of patients during proton therapy treatment. Getting the patient in the exact location required is “a crucial issue for the accuracy of the treatment,” explains Hane. Drawing upon her programming experience in C++, Python, and MATLAB, she used Microsoft Kinect to gather 3D point clouds of both the treatment device and the room. She then processed and filtered the point clouds, and finally compared them with the given mesh volumes of the device to better estimate the space in which the patient would be best positioned. Because the PPS team was in a research-focused phase, Hane was able to try several different methods to approach the team’s main challenge.
A supportive environment
In addition to her experiences in the lab, Hane also witnessed the cultural differences that she had initially sought. From the flexible work hours to the accommodating nature of her group, Hane found her internship “all the more exciting” for these cultural differences. Hane felt that her colleagues and supervisor were “interested in not only the results [of her work],” but also in her “personal interests, goals, and growth. They were willing to train me from the very basic levels,” she states. She appreciated this support, and also how well MIT had prepared her for her daily tasks: her previous coursework in EECS and Linear Algebra, as well as her knowledge of programming languages, proved useful on a daily basis. Most of all, interning at IBA Worldwide “pushed me out of my comfort zone,” she says.
I used my knowledge to tackle real-world engineering problems, way beyond problem sets with solution keys. […] I grew up so much both as an engineer and as a person.