Engineering Health Care Solutions For A Better Future
Student Perspective How this young woman is engineering medical solutions for society and encouraging others to do the same.
As the daughter of two engineering professionals, Victoria Madge developed a love for science and math at a young age. Having been exposed to engineering early on, it should have come as no surprise that the recent graduate of Carleton University’s biomedical and electrical engineering program would inherit an interest in STEM.
“In my family, engineering goes back many generations, especially on my mom’s side,” Madge explains. “I remember asking my parents for career advice when I was 14, and of course their answer was biased toward STEM.”
While Madge knows that the number of women choosing to pursue engineering has grown significantly since her mother graduated with a degree in electrical engineering from Carleton in 1989, she also acknowledges that women still have a long way to go in terms of being equally represented across the STEM fields. With that in mind, she believes it is crucial for girls to be exposed to science and technology at a young age, as she was.
“Introducing girls to engineering and science while they’re young opens their minds to the full spectrum of careers that are available in STEM,” says Madge. “By encouraging their interest early and often, you’ll give them more time to develop their passion and discover a path that they find rewarding.”
Throughout her undergrad, Madge looked to inspire the next generation of female STEM leaders, volunteering as an outreach officer with Carleton University Women in Science and Engineering (CU-WISE) and for events such as Go Eng Girl, part of the university’s Virtual Ventures youth outreach programming.
While Madge has been heavily involved in promoting the benefits of STEM to young girls, her decision to pursue biomedical engineering also stemmed from a desire to help others, a goal in which she has already achieved a great deal of success by concentrating on medical image processing.
In 2016, Madge worked as a research assistant for Carleton’s Dr. Adrian Chan, in collaboration with Dr. Dina El Demellawy of the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario, as part of her final co-op placement. Together, the team produced a digital image analysis tool to assess microscopic images relating to Hirschsprung’s disease, a congenital condition that occurs when nerve cells in the muscles of the large intestine are missing, resulting in an inability to function and requiring surgery to bypass.
“By combining colour image processing and pattern recognition methods, we were able to develop a tool that enables a fully automated objective assessment,” Madge explains. “This will help improve diagnosis of Hirschsprung’s disease and ultimately reduce reoperation caused by misdiagnosis.”
In the final year of her undergrad, Madge also developed an Integrated Concussion Assessment System (I-CAS) as part of a team-based fourth year Capstone design project. Taking the form of a mobile application, I-CAS aims to migrate clinical concussion testing and recovery monitoring to the home environment.
“By assessing a specific brain signal, tracking eye gaze, testing patient balance, and integrating the combined results with the Sport Concussion Assessment Tool 3 (SCAT3) questionnaire, I-CAS helps to track and monitor concussion recovery in a comprehensive manner,” Madge explains.
While she has now moved on to the next phase of her academic career, pursuing graduate research in image-guided neurosurgery at McGill University, Madge hopes to continue inspiring young girls who are considering pursuing careers in STEM.
“It’s up to us to unlock the minds and potential of young women,” she says. “After that, just watch how far they will take it."