George Padeigis is an Electrical and Biomedical Engineering graduate from McMaster University, co-founder of Remember2Love, and an aspiring tech innovator.
George interned at Tesla HQ, the first to do so from McMaster. Previously, an Undergraduate Researcher in Chemical Engineering through multiple NSERC Undergraduate Student Research Awards, and an Architectural Intern at Hatch Ltd.
George served his community through several leadership positions, including as President of the Bioengineering at McMaster Society and Class Representative on the McMaster Engineering Society.
George is a Forbes Under 30 Scholar, 2nd place winner of Stanford University’s Health Hackathon, and was invited to the Harvard Business School partaking in its summer program.
George’s most meaningful projects have been those of service as an advocate for clean water security: through his research projects, the Indigenous Peoples Water Security Initiative (McMaster Big Ideas with Impact 2020), and through his design and implementation contributions to a water system engineering project in Latin America.
George is a first-generation Brazilian-Canadian and loves learning about new cultures in his spare time.
Our outreach leads Jaya Gupta had the chance to interview George Padeigis this August.
BioTEC: What drew you to the Electrical and Biomedical Engineering program at McMaster University?
George: What drew me in was my interest in the subject matter. I love how it combines hardware and software as well as the health sciences through the dual major! I have always wanted to pursue innovation and bring about a positive impact on my work. For me, this program was a way to build out broad-spectrum expertise, from technology to health care, making it possible to work towards innovative solutions in these spaces.
Beyond my affinity for the material, I think the intersection of these fields has so much potential. I believe biomedical technology is the next frontier, with so much still to be developed. Undergoing this training would be a portal into the future.
BioTEC: Would you say you found what you were looking for in your program? Is it what you thought it would be?
George: Yes, it was! I’m really grateful for the experience.
The training was broad and interdisciplinary. We had our core engineering courses, the applied variants of high-level physics, math, chemistry, and biology - while also integrating health sciences, computers, and my choice of electives - several in economics and the classics.
I’m graduating in electrical engineering and biomedical engineering, but also with a foundation in so many different areas. Most of all, it’s prepared me to contribute to verticals I’m passionate about, whether information technology, energy systems, or medicine.
BioTEC: We saw you were involved in extracurriculars like Global Brigades and BEAMS. Could you tell us a bit about them and how these experiences have contributed towards your career?
George: Both experiences were very different.
The McMaster Global Engineering Brigade was a humanitarian volunteering initiative focussed on developing clean water infrastructure for two underserved communities in Honduras. It was an incredibly humbling experience: going door-to-door, consulting local residents, speaking at the townhall, surveying land, assessing water sources, designing and budgeting the project, and ultimately implementing the clean water system. As a senior-most engineering student on the project, I learned many lessons in leadership and applying technical expertise. Even culturally, with familial ties to Latin America, bridging the language barrier was personally rewarding and really helpful in building relationships and fulfilling the project. This experience taught me about the value of mission as I look towards starting my career - that through engineering training we can bring about positive social impact in very definite ways, especially in areas where these skills are needed most.
On the other hand, the Bioengineering at McMaster Society is a student group representing biomedical engineers across all program levels and specialties at the university - focussed on fostering community, performing social outreach, and inspiring professional growth. Through my years on council and as society President, I had the opportunity to serve a board of 25 exec members and over six hundred students, organizing workshops, seminars, social outings, industry events, mentorship programs, and volunteering opportunities. It was deeply rewarding to give back to a community I loved so much throughout my undergrad. And developing so many different initiatives taught me several lessons in leadership, teamwork, and project management, invaluable not only to career but to life.
Each of these experiences has prepared me to take on larger roles in organizations and have a greater positive impact through my work.
BioTEC: We saw you attended a program at Harvard Business School! Would you be able to tell us a bit more about that experience?
George: Yes sure, it was really cool - this was during my full-year internship. Where it was the spring and Harvard had come to Tesla HQ to talk about a summer program that we could integrate into our internship for students not only at Tesla but across the Bay area and across the world.
It was a wonderful opportunity, it was hugely valuable learning about management, starting a business, learning from unique perspectives, all led by Harvard Business School MBA faculty. I met so many different professionals participating in the program from so many diverse and unique backgrounds - a lawyer from Singapore, a businessperson from Barbados, a supply chain expert at Apple from Brazil, the list goes on. Through this experience, we explored case studies tackling different problems companies had and broadly how to overcome challenges in business. What I found most valuable were the breakouts sessions in smaller groups where we could brainstorm in a more intimate setting and build lasting ties with colleagues. Looking back, I am so grateful for all the perspectives gained. I look forward to building new things with the friends made and the lessons we learned.
I really do see a future in business. I see it as a vehicle by which we can make technologies we are working on in engineering and science accessible to everyone. I can think of no better way of bridging that gap.
BioTEC: What do you find most exciting about the field?
George: What I find most exciting is bringing computers into traditional areas that haven’t previously been disrupted by advances in information technology. As an example, I see a lot of potential in improving health care through new platforms for analysis and research, improving diagnostic tools, and transforming clinician workflows with better software and medical devices.
I’m inspired by projects pursuing new frontiers, whether charting out into outer space or solving for sustainable energy systems here on Earth. Looking ahead, I’m really optimistic about biotechnology and breakthroughs that will radically improve longevity.
BioTEC: What were the different internships you have had so far?
George: My first internship was at Hatch, an engineering and consulting company - I specifically worked in their Architecture department. I had three internships as a Research Assistant in Chemical and Bioengineering under McMaster University and NSERC [Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada] Undergraduate Student Research Awards. And a full-year internship at Tesla in Palo Alto as a Systems Integration Engineer.
BioTEC: What would you say are some of the factors that enabled you to find relevant positions in biomedical engineering?
George: My relevant positions in biomedical engineering were through my internships at McMaster University’s Chemical Engineering Department and as a volunteer researcher in Orthopaedic Surgery with Hamilton General focusing on pathologies of the spine. These opportunities were enabled by insatiable curiosity into how things work and my deep involvement in the school community.
I met the Chair of Chemical Engineering over lunch in my first year to discuss his research in vaccines and biosensors. I was inspired by his work and his incredible vision and his group’s mission. By way of academic record, work experience, and a great conversation, I was offered the opportunity to join their research group.
In my third year, I was studying specimens late into the evening at our human anatomy laboratory when I struck up a conversation with a spinal surgeon visiting the facility at the time. They shared details of their work with educational tools for orthopedic surgery residents and described the technical challenge involved. I was fascinated by the project, and my technical training and our working chemistry made contributing to the project possible.
I am forever grateful for both of these opportunities, for all I learned, the fantastic people I worked with, and the opportunity to contribute to bioengineering and medical research.
BioTEC: What did you do as a systems engineering intern?
George: The systems engineering role was all about combining hardware, software, and pursuing product objectives. Specifically, I supported the safety systems integration for over 3 platforms - interfacing directly with vehicle sensors, accelerometers, actuators, airbags, the restraints control module, and other ECUs. Whether writing vehicle software, building firmware validation setups, performing fleet-wide analysis, or developing diagnostic tools, I had the opportunity to work with many teams, refine a broad skill-set and contribute to an incredibly exciting mission.
BioTEC: How did the skills you learned in school help you career-wise?
George: Career-wise, school exposed me to the theory and the methods, but during my internships is where I really committed the skills. It was through an application that I was able to refine my craft. Design courses and extracurricular projects really helped bridge this gap. In the laboratory, developing biomedical instruments, capturing biological signals of the brain and muscles and characterizing movement and activity, and outside of class, designing a Cube Satellite or building AR visualizations of spinal pathologies, to name a few. These were the sorts of experiences that made the transition between school, research, and industry so swift.
BioTEC: What was the biggest takeaway from your internship experiences?
George: My biggest takeaway is optimism on innovation and faith in a brighter future, seeing concepts learned from a textbook and in the classroom brought to life was inspiring and liberating! Exposure to the entire stack, from harnessing electrons and bits to building self-driving cars, whether in academia or in the industry - seeing the science performed and new technology realized was proof it is possible to shape the future in deterministically positive ways.
BioTEC: As a graduate, what would you say to your first-year self? What are some suggestions you would give to students entering your program? What advice would you give to students who want to get involved in the field given the current online schooling situation?
George: Advice to my first-year self would be to take risks, never give up, and never count yourself out - you never know where it might take you. The most enlightening, exciting experiences I’ve had have been from channeling this perspective.
Regarding advice unique to the current online schooling situation: while so many will be working from home, make that cold call, send that email, to that industry expert, researcher, that professional who you are interested in speaking to - you may be more likely to receive a response than you think. Further, consider pivoting away from the traditional schooling context and more towards experiential, interest-based exploration.
Despite how burdensome this pandemic has been, we are so fortunate to have the boundless opportunities of the internet at our disposal. I encourage everyone to make maximal use of it as a primary avenue for growth, as a way to overcome current and future challenges, and as a way to continue pursuing your passions in light of pandemic-related constraints.
Inspired by George Padeigis? Reach out on Linkedin here