Susan Yoo enjoys her second opportunity abroad working for KIST, this time on a Healthcare Robotics Team advancing the workspace limitations of surgical tools
“This experience made me realize how much I like working internationally. In a world where all sectors involve global interactions, it’s important to stay open-minded about working with people with different cultural backgrounds. Language and culture should not be the obstacles of collaborating with scientists and engineers who want a different perspective on world problems.”

Susan was grateful to have had a memorable experience this summer as a young engineer in Korea as one of the few females on her team. She worked with a passionate supervisor and team members who helped her to explore cutting-edge technology in healthcare robotics.

Susan’s team worked on a wire-driven steering system for an epidural catheter, which allows for drug injection and insertion of micro surgical tools within a restricted workspace. Her main focus was helping out with developing an induction welding system to heat up the wire to fix onto the polyurethane casing. Susan was able to maximize the heating efficiency from the wire to the casing by reducing the diameter of the cupper coil. Using a ferromagnetic wire allowed for more instant heating as well. To fix the issue of a voltage drop of the circuit board, she added another capacitor parallel to the power source. To prevent the melting polyurethane from getting deformed, the team devised a metal shell and a rod to keep the structure of the catheter tip intact. Lastly, she designed and CADed the case for the overall system. Susan also worked on a literature review for single-port laparoscopic surgery, learning about different foldable mechanisms of inserting optical fiber without limiting the workspace of surgical tools.

“As a Korean-American, I am glad to have done MISTI-Korea,” said Susan. “Knowing the language and culture to some extent made my experience even more meaningful.” While Susan found limited obstacles in terms of communication, she discovered some surprising cultural differences. She especially came to understand how much Koreans value a team over individualism. “Working in a tight team this summer, it was awesome having colleagues who care for you like they are your family members,” she reflects.

Susan enjoyed exploring different parts of Seoul and all the good food, café, concerts, museums, and traditional palaces that are easily accessible. Her favorite moments include going to Banpyo Bridge with new friends and taking a picture with the tiger robot her team had designed for the winter Olympics in PyeongChang.

  • Korea
  • MechE