Women are making significant contributions in the field of medical device engineering, playing key roles in innovation, research, development, and leadership. They are actively involved in research and development, contributing to the creation of new medical devices. Their diverse perspectives often lead to innovative solutions and designs that address a wide range of healthcare needs. They are engaged in various stages of medical device development, from conceptualization to prototyping and final product design. Their expertise in engineering and biomedical sciences is crucial in ensuring the safety, efficacy, and usability of medical devices.

As women increasingly take on leadership roles in medtech, their leadership brings a diverse and inclusive perspective to decision-making processes, fostering creativity and driving success. Their contributions to cutting-edge research in biomedical engineering, exploring new materials, technologies, and methodologies, are improving the performance and functionality of medical devices. Many of these women are entrepreneurs establishing start-ups and bringing innovative solutions to the market. Their ventures often focus on addressing unmet medical needs and improving patient outcomes.

By serving as role models and mentors, they inspire and support young professionals entering the field. Overall, the contributions of women in medical device engineering are diverse and impactful, shaping the present and future of healthcare technology.

Adding Economic Value

A new study from the U.S. Patent and Trademark office finds that women’s participation in patenting is associated with substantial economic value. The study shows that women’s participation in patenting — both in AI and other technologies — is growing and associated with more diverse teams and patents with higher economic value.

“The findings in this article are essential in guiding our work to strengthen and broaden the innovation ecosystem,” says Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO Kathi Vidal. “Women are severely underrepresented in STEM fields, and the emerging field of biotechnology AI is no exception. Fortunately, studies like these bring awareness to the issue and help facilitate important conversations and action.”

Anna Barnacka, PhD, CEO, MindMics

Given the incredible reach of AI across technologies and organizations, diversifying the AI innovation ecosystem could produce substantial economic gains. The study also shows that more can be done to diversify the AI innovation ecosystem, especially in the university sector and within the emerging field of biotechnology AI, an area where women’s participation is associated with substantial value.

One Woman Shaping the Future of Healthcare

Anna Barnacka, PhD, is a NASA Einstein Fellow at Harvard and founder and CEO of medtech start-up MindMics and was “trained to solve the unsolvable.” According to the company, “While researching black holes billions of miles away, she realized she had no precise visibility into the inner workings of her own internal galaxy. Anna decided to listen to her brain — both figuratively and literally. She leveraged her expertise to create a sound system with the power to accurately capture her unique health data and deliver real-time guidance to improve her life.”

Barnacka set out to discover a new way of monitoring health that would be as easy as listening to music and as accurate as a medical device. By analyzing low-frequency acoustical vibrations detected in the ear canal, she was able to capture subtle sound deviations that together created a precise picture of her health. In 2018, she launched MindMics to create a next-generation health monitoring platform using groundbreaking, sound-based technology — known as infrasonic hemodynography (IH) — embedded in everyday earbuds. Her innovation worked so well that MindMics was recently granted a patent for its hearable technology, marking a significant leap in the field of cardiovascular health, offering a novel, noninvasive approach to disease monitoring and management.

The wireless, noise-canceling earbuds use infrasonic sound heart monitoring. (Credit: MindMics)

“This patent is more than an innovation; it’s a commitment to a healthier future,” says Barnacka, who is the primary inventor. “Our vision extends beyond this invention, aiming to develop adaptable algorithms and software solutions for widespread earbud use. This approach will soon provide unparalleled cardiovascular health insights, with the potential to substantially reduce the global burden of cardiovascular diseases,” she says.

The advanced cardiovascular monitoring system ingeniously incorporates acoustic sensors from noise-canceling earbuds. By integrating these sensors with sophisticated machine learning and AI algorithms, the system facilitates continuous, noninvasive monitoring of heart functions. The earbud sensors detect essential biosignals, enabling accurate analysis and prediction of blood pressure and other crucial cardiovascular indicators.

Biofeedback in motion. The system can work with an ECG chest strap to monitor well-being with or without earbuds. (Credit: MindMics)

This noninvasive method offers comprehensive monitoring of cardiovascular parameters, aligning with the rapidly growing earbud market. MindMics aims to capitalize on this growth by providing health metrics as a software solution, making advanced health monitoring widely accessible. According to the company, the patent represents a major advancement in cardiovascular monitoring technology. With its growing patent portfolio and robust clinical validation, MindMics is poised to transform cardiovascular health monitoring, building accessible, efficient solutions for early detection and management of heart conditions.

Barnacka received her PhDs in astronomy from Nicolaus Copernicus Astronomical Center of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw, Poland, and physics from Paris-Sud University, conducting her research at French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission in Paris, France. After earning her doctorates, she became a postdoctoral researcher at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. She received a NASA Einstein Fellowship in 2015, during which she researched the phenomena of gravitational lensing and pioneered techniques for turning gravitational lenses into high-resolution telescopes.

In 2012, Barnacka received the Copernicus Astronomical Center Young Scientist Award primarily in recognition of her 2012 paper in Physical Review. In 2020, she received the Nicolaus Copernicus Prize in the category of Cosmology and Astrophysics (an honor given once every five years) by the Polish Academy of Arts and Sciences for the outstanding monothematic cycle of five manuscripts under the collective title: “Development of a method of using gravitational lensing for astronomical measurements with high resolution.”

Recognizing Rising Stars

Barnacka is a great example of women engineers who are leading the way in medical technology developments. There are many other women in this industry who are making equally significant contributions and playing key roles in innovation, research, development, and leadership.

These are women making significant improvements to engineering who are at the forefront of innovation and sustainable development. To recognize and celebrate these women, SAE Media Group wants to shine the spotlight on their achievements with its inaugural annual awards program, Women in Engineering: Rising Star Awards, supported by SAE International. For more information on the program, see the sidebar, “Women in Engineering: Rising Star Awards 2024.”


The Women in Engineering: Rising Star Awards program will celebrate and recognize women engineers who are enhancing the engineering profession through contributions to the industry and society in six categories: Aerospace/Defense, Automotive/Transportation, Electronics, Manufacturing, Medical, and Sustainability.

We are in search of Rising Stars in engineering. If you know of a woman in one of the six categories working in the U.S./UK/Canada and is under 45, who is a leader, a team player, and who represents the very best of the engineering profession as well as has the passion and personality to inspire others to follow in her footsteps, nominate somebody today.

Nominate women engineers whose contributions have had a positive impact on their profession, and their exemplary work inspires the next generation of women engineers. Self- nominations are encouraged. All nominations will be reviewed, and winners selected by a panel of judges/editorial staff based on information provided in the application form.

Entry Requirements

  • Minimum engineering qualification: Engineering Degree (required).

  • Based in U.S., UK, or Canada.

  • 45 years of age or younger on May 1, 2024.

  • Minimum of five-years’ work experience:

    • Leadership experience: this could be leading a small team or group of individuals to achieve a goal through work or volunteering.

    • Teamwork skills: examples of being collaborative, encouraging people to work together and working with others.

    • Impact on society: one example of where the nominee’s work has impacted the society in a positive way.

  • All application materials must be submitted using the official online application (coming soon).


  • Winners will be announced in October 2024 in a press release as well as spotlighted in SAE Media Group magazine article(s), websites, e-newsletters, and social media channels.

  • Each winner will receive a plaque with her name, company, and logo of the award.

E-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information.

Nominations open on May 1, 2024, and close on July 22, 2024.