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Photo-optical Imaging Global Co-op in the Heart of Berlin

January 31, 2018

About me

Aspasie Song is a fourth year Bioengineering student with a concentration in Bioimaging and Signal Processing and a minor in Business Administration. She is from Cambodia, and recently returned from her second co-op in Berlin Germany at SOPAT GmbH. On campus, Aspasie is actively involved in the Society of Women Engineers, Enabling Engineering, NU Pool Club, and Intramural volleyball. 

Photo-optical Imaging Global Co-op in the Heart of Berlin 

My career path and journey was not a straight forward one. When I left high school, I was drawn towards architecture and civil engineering, but came into Northeastern as an undeclared engineering student. I have a great passion for design, any and all kinds, but my strongest value is compassion for people and their lives. Thanks to the informative panels and department forums the College of Engineering put together freshmen year, the mission of the department of Bioengineering sparked my interest. And here I am today, very interested in biomedical imaging, optics, and signal processing – something I never imagined being involved with in the past, and you could say SOPAT played a large role in helping me get here.

Being an international student, Boston is considered “abroad” for me, so you would think I’m used to being abroad by now. However, going abroad still scares me so much, but that is exactly why it is so exciting for me as well. I am so thankful that I took the risk, opened myself up to the opportunity that I wasn’t exactly sure I was going to love. Just last year, I was concentrating on biomedical devices, but after taking a few classes related to bioelectricity and signals last spring, I became intrigued by imaging and optics. I applied to a position at SOPAT; even though the company did not always work with biomaterials, a large part of their company is dedicated to improving both the hardware and software of their photo-optical system. What SOPAT does is they offer a variety of probes with different fields of view that are capable of viewing particles ranging from 0.9mm to 2.6cm. Nowadays, most industries and researchers have to send in samples of their medium or products into labs and wait a long time for results to return. The beauty of SOPAT’s vision is to provide industries and researchers with a method to analyze the particles of their products within their warehouse or lab online and receive live particle analyses results.

As a development engineer trainee of the applications team, I got to use the SOPAT probes often to measure client’s product samples by acquiring thousands of images. The media I worked with ranged from chocolate, oil, microbeads, silicon granulates, to waste water.

A large part of my responsibility was also to develop user manuals for their software, and with this responsibility I got to learn even more about how image quality could be optimized. I quickly became familiar with the optics concepts as I ran calibration and Field of View tests on the probes. After only a couple months on this co-op, I was ready to switch my concentration and commit to bioimaging and signal processing. I can’t say it won’t be challenging, because it definitely will be, but it will be something I am motivated to learn about daily.

As for my experience of living in Berlin – I miss it every day. Berlin is a large and diverse city full of people who aren’t afraid to express themselves. I really put myself out there to make friends that I am proud to say I still speak to today. On Thursday evenings, I played volleyball with one of my supervisors and the friends he often plays with; even though some of them did not speak much English, they were so warm and including of me that it quickly felt like they were a small family to me. Since SOPAT was such a small company with only 15 full-time employees, it was much easier for me connect with each and individual colleague. My first co-op was at Medtronic, working for the Minimally Invasive Therapies Group, a huge team in a large company of 85,000 employees worldwide. The experience at SOPAT was exactly the difference I was looking for, and it was nice to be able compare the small, start-up, and tight-knit company culture to the previous large company culture.

This Global co-op experience not only has opened up my mind to a lifestyle so different from the ones in Cambodia or the US, or allowed me to make some lifelong connections, but has also impacted my career path. For those of you who are thinking about going abroad, do not hesitate, give it a chance! Chase your passion and take every adventure as experience with no regrets.

January 31, 2018 10:45 am