Damini Agarwal is the director of product development at Infinite Biomedical Technologies LLC (IBT), a medical device company based in Baltimore that develops electronics and control systems for upper-limb myoelectric prostheses. She graduated with a Master’s in Biomedical Engineering from Johns Hopkins University and currently serves on the JHU WSE Alumni Leadership Committee. At IBT, she oversees the development, manufacturing, and regulatory approvals of commercially available FDA Class I and Class II, and CE-marked devices (for European Union compliance), which are a combination of cutting-edge technologies in flexible electronics, hardware, advanced machine learning algorithm design, and app-based clinician and patient user interfaces. She also manages the translation of control systems from research to product development and supports the clinical team in user fittings and training. Agarwal finds that working with amputees and developing next-generation technology for upper-limb prosthetics is a very rewarding use of her leadership and technical capabilities.
She has been recognized with numerous awards and accolades, including being named the Johns Hopkins Alumni Association Outstanding Recent Graduate in 2020, Baltimore Business Journal Best in Tech 2020—Emerging Leader, and Technical.ly Technical Leader of the Year 2020.
What made you choose Johns Hopkins?
For my graduate studies, I wanted to pursue a specialization in biomedical sensors and instrumentation. JHU’s BME program not only offered an imaging and instrumentation track, but the program had also been consistently ranked as the best in the world—there was no better place to pursue my master’s. The cherry on the cake was the opportunity to pursue my graduate thesis in Nitish Thakor’s Neuroengineering and Biomedical Instrumentation lab, which was doing and continues to do cutting-edge research in the sensors and instrumentation field, amongst many other areas.
Do you have any memories that stand out from your time as a student?
My time at Hopkins gave me numerous academic, research, and extra-curricular opportunities to grow both personally and professionally. I fondly look back on the hours spent in the Neuroengineering Lab and Design Studio in Clark Hall, as well as at the Digital Media Center, where I first began my exploration of the world of prosthesis control systems and medical devices. Additionally, serving as the advocacy chair on the Graduate Representative Organization allowed me to network with members of the university staff and administration as well as students from varied academic specialties and cultural backgrounds, some of whom I have continued to stay in touch with. Also, before moving to the States, I was a Girl Guide in India (since 1999) and am very glad that I had the opportunity to give back to the Girl Guides and Girls Scouts movement as a volunteer leader and executive board member for JHU Girl Scouts under the guidance of Cathy Litofsky, our faculty adviser.
Do you have any advice for aspiring engineers?
One of the things that I took away from my Hopkins education that has made me a better engineer is to not be afraid of the unknown. In the real world, one often does not have the correct answers to all the problems right from the beginning, and it is important to have faith in one’s skills to know that you will eventually figure it out.
Where are you working now? How did you get involved in this line of work?
I currently work at Infinite Biomedical Technologies. IBT spun out of Nitish Thakor’s Neuroengineering and Biomedical Instrumentation Lab in 1997. I was initially introduced to IBT through my research assistantship at Dr. Thakor’s lab—both the lab and IBT collaborate on numerous research projects, and my graduate thesis on flexible high-density sensor interfaces for prosthetic control was one such project. I went on to intern with IBT over the summer, joined the team full time once I graduated, and now work as the director of product development at the company.
Why and how do you choose to stay connected to Johns Hopkins as an alumnus?
Giving back has always been an important part of my upbringing. Hopkins has opened many doors for me, and I believe that giving back to the institute is an important way of expressing my gratitude for the education and opportunities that I received here. Moreover, as an alumna, I want to see Hopkins’ impact grow to reach every corner of the world, and serving on the WSE Leadership Committee enables me to make contributions towards that goal. Furthermore, I have always had an army of mentors who have encouraged and inspired me to aspire for the stars and I express my gratitude to them by paying it forward and being available as a mentorship resource for the next generation of Hopkins engineers through the JHU WSE Mentorship programs.