Rights: The University of Waikato Published 21 July 2007 Download

Dr Eli Van Houten from the University of Canterbury talks about what inspired him to become a medical engineer.


When people asked me what I wanted to be when I was like 11, I'd answer aeronautical engineer, which got some funny looks. But then I had a friend in high school who told me that she wanted to be a doctor. She explained to me why she wanted to be a doctor, because she could help people, and if people were sick she could help people get over their illnesses, and that idea really resonated with me, and I thought that is a really good thing to work for, and when I looked at more into aeronautical engineering and what it actually entailed, it actually involves designing missiles and things like that, which isn't really helping any one.

So at that point in high school I basically decided yeah, I think I want to study medical engineering, so that concept of using engineering to help people rather than blow people up. You know I just clicked with it, and was like yeah, that’s what I want to do. When I got into studying engineering I was very intrigued by the study of when something goes wrong physically or when someone’s having an illness, there are scientific ways of describing what that process actually is. I mean the process could be a chemical process, a structural process like a broken bone, or a hip failing, you know I became very interested in ways of applying what we know as engineers to fixing those problems.