Gilero’s Director of Quality & Operations Delivers Guest Lectures at Virginia Tech

Over the past few months, Gilero’s Director of Quality & Operations, Kristin Benokraitis, has traveled to Virginia Tech’s campus twice, speaking to both graduate and undergraduate students in the Biomedical Engineering and Mechanics department.  Like many colleges and universities, Virginia Tech understands the importance of preparing students for life after graduation, by supplementing educational learning with opportunities for internships/Co-Ops, and facilitating seminars with industry speakers. Their industry partnership program ensures what students are learning in the classroom can be applied to the real world. 

Kristin graduated from Virginia Tech with a B.S. in Chemical Engineering.  She joined Gilero in 2007, serving in various quality, project management and operations roles.  With over fifteen years of industry experience, she is Gilero’s quality and regulatory subject matter expert.

Members of the Gilero team, including Kristin, had previously spoken to biomedical engineering students at North Carolina State University, and this experience inspired Kristin to reach out to her alma mater about speaking and offering industry advice to current engineering students. This isn’t her first time interacting with students. Kristin has been involved with middle school and high school STEM programs over the past several years, but she feels that we, in industry, can do more to help universities set students up for success. 

In her presentations at Virginia Tech, topics included the role of quality systems and regulations in medical device development, navigating the medical device industry as a new engineer and soft skills that are important in the industry, such as taking initiative, collaboration and communication.  A group of graduate students also had the opportunity to ask questions over lunch about career advice and working in medical and drug delivery device companies. 

These exchanges are mutually beneficial; not just for Kristin and the students she speaks to, but also for Gilero and Virginia Tech.  Speaking to students gives Kristin a fresh perspective about the work that she does.  “Most of the biomedical engineering students that I talk with have a strong desire to develop medical devices that can really make a difference in patient care. It reminds me of my own passion and motivates me to continue sharing my experiences to help students understand how what they are learning in the classroom applies to the real world of developing medical devices,” says Kristin.

Christopher Arena, Ph.D., Collegiate Assistant Professor at Virginia Tech, shares, “We really appreciate that Kristin was able to speak with our senior design students about her role as Director of Quality and Operations at Gilero. It was one of our best guest lectures this year. She discussed quality systems regulations and design controls in the context of several examples from her career in medical device development. This was a great source of motivation for the students, as it helped them to see first-hand how processes that they are learning and implementing in their design projects are utilized in industry. We look forward to continuing to collaborate with Kristin and Gilero.”  Kristin hopes that by speaking to students, they can learn from any mistakes that she’s made along the way.  “Kristin’s message during her visit was an important one for our students to hear,” expresses Mark Van Dyke, Ph.D., Associate Professor at Virginia Tech.  “She emphasized the critical need to step beyond formal academic underpinnings and embrace experiential learning through industry experience as a student.”

As a graduate of Virginia Tech, Kristin is driven by the university’s motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve).  Throughout her lifetime, she has been involved in organizations which serve and help others and believes that this motto is one of the things that makes Hokies special. “The students I have met are really smart, motivated and hungry,” she says. “If we can help channel that, they are going to hit the ground running and make a lasting impact in the medical device industry.”