Angelique Johnson is an electrical and biomedical engineer in Louisville, Kentucky. Her medical technology company, MEMStim, LLC, uses automated manufacturing to make cochlear implants more affordable for patients. "Discovering You: Engineering Your World" is produced by NBC News Learn in partnership with Chevron, the American Society for Engineering Education and the National Science Foundation.
Discovering You – Engineering Your World – Angelique Johnson
ANGELIQUE JOHNSON (Electrical Engineer):
OK, so this is more what I would expect in there.
I'm Dr. Angelique Johnson and I'm an electrical and biomedical engineer.
We’re not getting metal in the contact area.
I have five brothers and five sisters. So that's 11 of us, including myself. And my dad was a chemical engineer. My mom, she was a mathematician. Probably when I was in, I believe, first grade, my mom decided to homeschool everybody. So she raised us heavily in science and technology. There was lots of brain teasers, even in the off time.
I was really passionate about wanting to work on something that I could see helping individuals in the next three to five years. I had no experience with cochlear implants. I didn't have anybody in my family that was deaf or hard of hearing at that time.
A cochlear implant is, for lack of a better term, an implantable hearing aid. It's for individuals who can't get any benefit from just amplifying the sound. The actual cells that send electrical stimulus to the brain are dead. The cochlear implant has the stimulator, which generates this current, and it's implanted, in the skull. And then the array is put through that spiral-shaped bone called the cochlea.
When I graduated, I was like, "What do I want to do to actually live my life? And what am I willing to sacrifice to live the life that I want?" I just saw that having my own company was the way to be independent. Engineering requires a lot of creativity. And the inspiration doesn't just come from being in the lab and from a textbook. I do praise dance at church. I love fashion. I love design. And so that ties into product design and how we choose to design our technology.
I am really excited about the idea of having created a scientific innovation from concept all the way to fruition. We haven't gotten there yet, in terms of having our technology be accessible to the clinical market, but we're well on our road there and I'm excited by the hope and the vision that we will be there.
Angelique Johnson uses engineering to help people who are deaf or hard of hearing. Other people and groups are finding different ways to help. Learn more in this TIME for Kids story.
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