One and a half month ago, early May 2020, she started working at OnePlanet Research Center as a Biomedical Engineer. Today, at International Women in Engineering Day, we find out why our new colleague, Esther Kho, chose to become an engineer and why our engineers are so valuable in the work we do.

Esther Kho-International Women in Engineering Day

“Engineers translate the ideas and underlying theory of researchers into reality for end users”

When and why was the moment you decided to become an engineer?

It all started during high school. First, I wanted to study technical physics. But after consulting with my parents, a less theoretical and more applied study would be a better fit. That was when engineering was coming around. I was searching for a study in which I could combine both fundamental and applied research. This led me to biomedical technology (Life science and technology). I have always been interested in health care, but I didn’t want to become a doctor. Biomedical technology combines the medical world with technology. The first six months it was quite broad, but after six months I could already choose a direction. That’s when I became a biomedical engineer.

What is the added value of the engineers at OnePlanet Research Center?

Research is very important. Especially fundamental research. The added value of engineers is bridging the gap between the fundamental aspect and the final application. In other words, engineers translate the ideas and underlying theory of researchers into reality for end users.

Can you tell me something about the technology you are engineering and the applications you work on?

The last four years I conducted PhD research at The Netherlands Cancer Institute in the Antoni van Leeuwenhoek Hospital. My research was about the use of an optical technique, called a hyperspectral camera, to measure whether a breast cancer tumor has been properly removed after surgery. Optical techniques can be used in various other applications as well. For example, at OnePlanet Research Center I’m testing if we can use it to measure amongst others cortisol in urine in order to detect stress. Another application I’m working with is the Chill+ band, which uses PPG, an optical technique which can be used to assess heart rate.

Esther Kho-International Women in Engineering Day

“Let’s focus on prevention instead of solving health issues, because as we say in Dutch “Voorkomen is beter dan genezen”

Theme of this year’s International Women in Engineering Day is #ShapeTheWorld. What are your personal engineering ambitions to shape the world?

It is my ambition to focus on preventive health care. Come up with new ideas that make people feel good about themselves and stay healthy. When I look around me at how many people are sitting at home because they just kept going under too much stress… How nice would it be if in 10-15 years time we developed something that prevents anybody from sitting at home with a burnout?

What if… you could make a futuristic change/development, what would it be?

What if… you can stop people from getting sick?! For example, what if we can use a toilet to measure how hydrated a person is? If you implement this in an elderly home, you can measure the elders every day to prevent them from becoming dehydrated. Perhaps that’s how we can detect early kidney failure as well. Let’s focus on prevention instead of solving health issues, because as we say in Dutch “Voorkomen is beter dan genezen”.

Interested in working at OnePlanet Research Center?

We have multiple job openings to expand our team in Gelderland. Check out the job openings here.