SciTechsperience Interns Hope to Change Lives at Ativa Medical

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March 14, 2016

MHTA — MHTA staff recently visited Ativa Medical in Saint Paul to meet the company’s current SciTechsperience interns, Aschalew Chamiso and Erin Duffy. Ativa is making waves in the healthcare industry for it’s novel point-of-care diagnostics product that allows physicians to easily take comprehensive blood-based tests. Rather than sending samples to a lab and waiting days for the results, physicians can use Ativa’s “tabletop micro lab” on-site (the size of a small desktop computer) to get results in minutes.

Concept Image of an Ativa Analyzer

Concept Image of an Ativa Analyzer

Chamiso, originally from Ethiopia, is in his final semester at MN State University Moorhead where he’s pursuing a bachelor’s degree in physics. He’s a Mechanical Engineering Intern at Ativa where the primary focus of his work has been in optics. Chamiso describes his internship at Ativa as a “life changing experience” that has led to a shift in his long-term professional goals. Rather than pursuing a career in academia after getting his PhD, Chamiso now hopes to work in a corporate setting doing R&D similar to the work he’s doing at Ativa. Chamiso was also a 2015 MHTA Foundation scholarship award winner.

Duffy recently graduated from the University of Minnesota with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and is a Research Lab Intern at Ativa. Her responsibilities include assembling disposable test cards, running tests on hospital blood samples, and analyzing data. Her experience at Ativa has given her the opportunity to develop a more holistic understanding of the medical field, where she hopes to pursue a career. “My internship at Ativa has allowed me to combine my interests in the medical field with my curiosity about the research and testing” that goes into the development of cutting-edge medical products, says Duffy. “I would love to have one of Ativa’s instruments in my office one day.”

Duffy and Chamiso both speak highly of Ativa’s company culture. “The environment is great,” says Chamiso. “Everyone is like a family.”

It is also clear that Ativa employees have a shared mission to make the world a better place. In fact, Ativa’s website describes the “spirit of the company as one driven to make a difference.” Without being prompted, Chamiso and Duffy both spoke about their belief that this product truly has the potential to improve lives. Chamiso sees Ativa’s products as having the potential to “bring a lot of positive change to the world,” especially in developing countries. Duffy adds that Ativa’s products could even be tremendously impactful for the medical community in greater Minnesota. In rural areas, “physicians currently have to send blood samples to off-site labs and might wait days before getting the results,” she says.

Ativa has found the SciTechsperience Internship Program to be a great resource for acquiring young talent. The company has used SciTechsperience almost every year since the program began in 2012, and has hired 3 former SciTechsperience interns as full time employees. Quinn Mogil, who started with Ativa as a SciTechsperience intern last year, was recently hired as a full-time mechanical engineer. Tzu-Yu Wang, VP of Engineering, says that SciTechsperience interns have always been “very enthusiastic, motivated, and self-reliant,” which is exactly the kind of culture he works to foster at Ativa.

It’s been an exciting year for Ativa. After concluding a $17 million raise last fall, the company was a finalist for an MHTA Tekne Award in the healthcare category. It’s exciting to see SciTechsperience interns making real contributions as Ativa continues to grow and thrive.

SciTechsperience will place 200 students in internships with small Minnesota companies in the 2015-2016 program year. Eligible companies receive a matching grant of up to $2,500 to help cover the intern’s wages. Employers and students can learn more about the SciTechsperience Internship Program and apply at SciTechMN.org, or contact Program Director Becky Siekmeier at beckys@mhta.org or Assistant Program Manager Jonah Kaplan at jkaplan@mhta.org

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