The Tinkerer’s Gene a Portrait

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The Tinkerer’s Gene

June 19 to 23, 2017 is Medtech Week — the European week for medical technology.

In this context, Sarah Jacobskötter, product developer at B. Braun, describes her personal flights of inventive fancy, reality checks and tests of patience.

If there is a perfect genetic makeup for developing medical technology products, then Sarah Jacobskötter probably has it in her DNA: her mother is a doctor and her father is a mechanical engineer. "I suspect that a psychologist could draw a few conclusions about this," says the thirty-one-year-old — and if you could hear the sound of a wink, it would be unmistakable here.

Wherever her interest in medical technology may come from, however – whether from her genetic makeup or her psychological conditioning – one thing is clear: Sarah Jacobskötter loves to tinker. She has always wanted to understand how things work and – if they don't – how to fix them.

Nice-to-Have and Must-Haves

Couldn't she also have become a product developer for washing machines, aircraft or television technology?

"Of course, that is very interesting from the technical point of view," she says, thinking about it for a moment. When she continues, her inflection is anything but tongue-in-cheek:

"But it's another question when it comes to whether I work on nice-to-haves or must-haves: Medical technology products help people to become healthy, or even to survive — making a contribution to this makes me feel fulfilled."

The educated industrial engineer has worked in the development department at B. Braun since August of 2013 and, as Research & Development Manager, is responsible for the new development of an infusion device portfolio for application on infusion pumps. Specifically, this relates to an infusion hose that safely and continually directs the infusion fluid into the patient's body with a drip chamber and roller clamp, via a pump.

A streak of perfectionism 

Sarah Jacobskötter's daily routine is characterized by meetings and close project coordination with her colleagues: Individual parts are inspected and measured, the next steps are discussed and then prototypes are taken directly to users.

"That sometimes pulls us back down to Earth from our flights of inventive fancy," she says.  Her audible wink has returned. "We engineers definitely have a streak of perfectionism — but sometimes the simple solution works just as well." 

Sarah Jacobskötter admits to having her dream job, but says it's not without difficulties or dry spells. Her greatest challenge: "Patience! I'm someone who needs to feel like I'm getting somewhere. That's probably why I love cycling and jogging. Product development is a long road, however — sometimes with setbacks and delays. Sometimes it really tests my limits."

"Patience is not really my thing." 

The transition into a "job—free zone," as she describes the start of her parental leave a few weeks ago, was not easy for her.  "I am very glad that our baby is coming soon, because like I said: patience is not really my thing." And there it is again, the clear sound of a wink.

The genetic makeup that she and her husband – a physician – will instill in their child's DNA remains to be seen in the coming years. But a certain tinker's gene and a soft spot for medical technology would probably surprise no one.