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Career Profile

Sydney Robinson

Biomedical Engineer and Entrepreneur
Vessl Prosthetics
Portrait de Sydney Robinson
Portrait de Sydney Robinson
Location Born
Location Now
Education Pathway

I am an entrepreneur who used my engineering background to design a device that helps amputees do daily tasks in a more painless manner.

About me

I was born/grew up in: I was born and raised in London, Ontario

I now live in: I live in London, Ontario

I completed my training/education at:  I completed my Bachelor of Applied Science in Mechanical Engineering at Queen's University, and my Masters of Engineering Science in Biomedical Engineering at Western University.

What I do at work

The fun thing about being an entrepreneur is that I wear so many different hats. This means I get to do all kinds of different tasks. I am a people-person! One of my favourite things is that I meet with mentors and other key opinion leaders to guide my business decisions.

I also get to exercise my engineering design skills when working on my device. We have designed a prosthetic socket for individuals with a leg amputation. As a result, we are constantly updating the design based on conversations with clinicians and amputees. I use CAD to edit our design. I also use different tools and parts from hardware stores to make a prototype that proves our device can function the way we want it to. Not only are my engineering skills helpful with the design, they are also helpful for overall problem solving.

There are many hurdles to running your business. For example, we might lose a competition we hoped to win. In other situations, a prototype might not work, as it should. In addition, sometimes meetings don’t go as well as you had hoped! When you encounter a hurdle, you need to be able to adapt quickly. Lastly, I love working with my co-founder and all of our advisors who are crucial to the success of our business.

My career path is

When I was in school, I liked math and science and I liked working with my hands. This led me to deciding to do a mechanical engineering degree. During my mechanical engineering degree, I took courses on the kinematics of human motion. I found those courses very interesting. When I decided to do a Masters degree, I chose Biomedical Engineering. This degree allowed me to continue studying movement of the human body. It also allowed me to learn more about the design of medical devices such as knee implants.

I always said I would own a business since high school. However, just a few years ago, I did not think it would happen. My priorities had changed and it didn't seem like something I wanted to do. However, I was always open to opportunities. As a result, I accepted a fellow position at the Medical Innovation Fellowship at Western University, which trains entrepreneurs. There, I learned more about what it takes to start a business and got to work on my idea. I loved it and that is how I was able to start my own business.

I am motivated by

I find so many elements of my career fulfilling. I love working in teams, so working with my cofounder and all our advisors is fun. I love working on a project that I know is going to make a positive difference in peoples' lives. Lastly, I love to lead; being the owner of your own company means that you and your cofounder are the ones that call the shots. While we rely heavily on our mentors' wise opinions, I love getting to make those business decisions. This career is right for me because it is fast paced. It requires you to adapt quickly and relies on strong problem solving skills.

How I affect peoples’ lives

Vessl Prosthetics' device (a prosthetic socket) allows amputees to walk all day without pain. Right now, pain is a normal part of an amputees' day. This means they can't do a lot of daily activities. I love coming to work knowing that I am solving such a huge problem!

Outside of work I

I love to read historical fiction and fantasy novels. I also listen to podcasts (especially Arm Chair Expert), run, hike, and spend time with family and friends.

My advice to others

Networking is the most important thing you can do, regardless of what career you want. Find people with the career you are interested in, meet with them and learn from them. Leave every conversation asking, "Is there anyone else I should speak to?"

When I was a student, I enjoyed:
  • Foreign Languages
  • Math
  • Science
When I was a student, I would have described myself as someone who:
  • Brought people together
  • Liked helping people
  • Organized activities for my friends
  • Wanted to be in charge
  • Engaged in volunteer activities
  • Liked being given specific instructions
  • Liked reading
  • Felt great satisfaction in getting good grades
  • Wasn't sure what I wanted to do
  • Learned best "by doing"

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