WIMTACH Student Profile: Nabila Patel

Nabila Patel is in her last semester of the Electrical, Electronics and Communications Engineering program at Centennial College and she is excited to graduate. After joining WIMTACH in October 2023 as a Student Researcher, she has been able to gain hands-on experience with electronic projects and she is eager to apply this knowledge after graduation. “It was the best decision of my life,” she said.

Her internship has afforded her the opportunity to become a part of two major applied research projects. The first, a multi-institute project collaboration with Vee Canada Inc., centers on the development of a data acquisition system with e-textile and wearable therapeutics for smart fabric-based wearables. The second, is a research project with Fibra, that aims to design and develop an innovative e-textile heart rate sensor to be integrated into underwear for fertility measurement. Nabila’s role for the Vee Canada project was to assist the research team with designing circuits and electronic programming. As she joined that project, the team had been working on testing protocols and changing programming details. So, she was there to experience the highpoint of achieving measurable results with the team. For the Fibra project, she has been involved with the project at every stage including the researching phase of the project and the team is now working on fabrication and testing of a sensor.

She was particularly excited to join the Fibra project because of its wide-range prospective use in the health space. “It’s very helpful to the medical system,” she said. As the Fibra technology enables people to monitor their heart rate, she hopes this will empower users to gain some direct information about their health status and she foresees its wider-usage for those who live independently.

Just as well, her involvement with the Fibra project has empowered her and it has required her to put her knowledge to the test. She was prompted to prepare research and analysis of academic articles which helped her to understand concepts like how to make different sensors for particular needs, how to apply this information to her current work and also, make modifications when required. She eventually used this information to construct a prototype with the research team and her use of this research helped her to navigate integration processes. “This [was] very exciting for me,” she said. As a result of her strong involvement with the Fibra project, she was able to learn how to proceed with research, how to conduct a project from scratch, and how to gather and prepare data documentation for future use.

Collaborating with Student Researchers like Faiyazahmad Ansari, she has been able to expand her knowledge by working through learning curves. As she was first assigned to do research for the Fibra project Faiyaz was instrumental in helping her to build familiarity with using new software like KiCad and Arduino. “He helped me in everything,” she said.

These projects enhanced her presentation skills, helped her to gain familiarity with microcontrollers, and with PCB software. This education was especially helpful when she encountered challenges with project development. For instance, for the Vee Canada Inc. project some of the challenges made her question her capabilities. Despite continued testing using a microcontroller device and adjusted programming, the team was not able to gain output information. Eventually, though, this moment was overwhelmed when the team finally resolved this challenge with a new prototype device. “At the time, I was thinking what am I doing here … can I fit [in] here,” she said. But positive output results gave her the confidence she needed. It marked the inciting moment which renewed her eagerness and commitment to explore different areas and technologies in her field.

Although she is concerned about finding employment after graduating, she is able to find reassurance in the knowledge that other Electronics Student Researchers before her were able to secure employment shortly after their internship. She hopes to work with IOTs in the long term so that she can code and work on designing. Ultimately, she is so pleased with her internship, she has been quick to recommend WIMTACH to other classmates. “I learned too much,” she said. “I learned [a lot of] software … how to tackle difficult situations. [It] is the main thing from this internship … This internship is very good.”

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