Chill out: graduating engineer helps invent therapeutic blanket

Annelies Tjebbes’ engineering student days are coming to a close—and with a storybook ending.

Tjebbes has already received a full-time job offer from a B.C. medical device company where she earned rave reviews during her co-op work term last summer.

Earlier this year, Tjebbes was recognized with the Faculty of Applied Science’s Outstanding Future Alumnus Award for her stellar academic career, leadership, compassion and community service.

Tjebbes has founded Kaizen Biomedical with fellow UBC engineering and Sauder School of Business students for their medical device called MobiChill. The team met in the APSC 486-New Venture Design course, which connects senior engineering and business students.

By inducing therapeutic hypothermia in cardiac arrest patients, MobiChill can reduce the risk of devastating side effects such as long term neurological damage, explains Tjebbes, who is graduating with a degree in electrical engineering— biomedical option.

“The device looks like a small blanket and can be used to quickly bring down the patient’s body temperature,” says Tjebbes.

Over the next months, Tjebbes and two team mates will be working to incorporate Kaizen Biomedical and getting MobiChill ready for market. “Though I’m apprehensive whether my current experience and skillset are enough to be able to bring this all the way to market, I’m certainly excited about taking our device as far as I can before passing it on to a team with more expertise. I’m really ready to be an entrepreneur and an engineer.”

One of Tjebbes’ motivating passions is to develop practical solutions for pressing world problems—especially in developing countries. For the past five years, she has volunteered with Engineers Without Borders (EWB). In 2009, Tjebbes received a 16-month EWB junior fellowship for international development, with a summer work term in Burkina Faso in West Africa where Tjebbes drew on her fluent French.

“It was a life changing experience,” says Tjebbes, who assisted a local women’s association to improve the waste reduction methods used by the community.

For recreation, Tjebbes plays with a division one team in the Vancouver Metro Women’s Soccer League at least twice a week. Described as a skilled and formidable player, Tjebbes says. “It’s a great way to work off frustrations.”

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