June 9, 2014

Adventures await talented biomedical engineering specialist

Kathleen Ang parlays her entrepreneurial spirit into career with startup company

Having accumulated a wide range of experiences during her studies and managed an impressive 3.97 GPA, Kathleen Ang will have a smile on her face when she convocates today with a degree in geomatics engineering and a specialization in biomedical engineering.

Ang chose engineering, she says, because it requires a broad set of skills. “You need to be able to communicate with people and you need to understand the business aspects, which I think is interesting.”

She was drawn to her biomedical specialty by a keen interest in biology, along with opportunities geomatics provided for field experience and developing her programming skills.

When she talks about her university years and her future plans, her entrepreneurial spirit shines through. Already employed by a startup company called iRapidConsult, Ang is working on the features of an online platform that provides consultation with a neurosurgeon.

While she’s still looking at her options for the future, “doing this kind of work with this company will give me more experience if I want to start my own company, or work with someone who is starting a company.”

During her undergraduate years, Ang earned a reputation for enterprise and initiative.

In addition to mentoring new students as a volunteer with the International Mentorship Program, she organized a speaker series and a tour as vice-president of the Biomedical Engineering Student Society during her third year. She also found time in her final year to serve as president with the Christian Students at U of C club and has volunteered with her church group, teaching, singing and playing guitar with children since junior high.

Ang’s academic performance earned rave reviews from her professors. In addition to a prestigious three-year Seymour Schulich Academic Excellence Scholarship, she garnered no fewer than eight scholarships for academic merit. “She’s extremely sharp,” says Derek Lichti, geomatics engineering professor.

Ang worked as a research assistant for Lichti on a performance analysis of the Microsoft Kinect camera to determine its viability for engineering applications and co-authored a paper on using the device to measure the deflection of reinforced concrete beams subjected to cyclic loads.

She was a self-motivated, self-starter, Lichti says, capable of efficiently handling a complex, demanding task that would normally be assigned to a graduate student.

In July 2012, Ang headed to the Netherlands for a one-year internship with Xsens Technologies BV, investigating improvements for inertial motion capture calibration.

Working on a research team conducting experiments at the company which supplied the technology used in the hit movie Ted was not only fun, she says, “the whole experience of living abroad really helped me. Being there and meeting different people and understanding different cultures was really great.”

This year, her project team won first place in Geomatics Engineering at the Capstone Design Fair for development of an open-source Internet of Things shelf prototype.

The Internet of Things refers to objects connected to the Internet, or a network, such as smart smoke detectors or a shirt that monitors breathing and heart rate. “There are a lot of different applications,” Ang says, admitting she is mulling some ideas for a potential startup company.

“She was the glue for the team,” says her fourth-year project supervisor, Steve Liang, associate professor of geomatics engineering. “She’s an intelligent team player who does solid work.”

Her willingness to explore new things was impressive, Liang says. “Recently she talked to me about exploring a career in a startup company, which not all students would do.”

Ang has the whole package, he says. “She is intelligent and modest with a good attitude and then she joins a startup company. I think that’s great, it makes her a well-rounded person. She’s a student I’d really want to recruit, either in a company setting or a research group setting.”