CUAS story of Birgit Wüstenhagen

The story of our alumna’s Birgit Wüstenhagen spans across continents, cultures, and oceans. Her journey from Austria, through Ireland and to New Zealand began at CUAS, an institution that promotes a global perspective and provides opportunities for international exchange.

Can you share a bit of your CUAS story? What made it special for you?
I’d love to! The small class sizes were a game-changer for me. Being able to interact closely with lecturers created an environment where I felt comfortable asking questions and engaging in discussions. That level of connection truly enriched my learning experience. The structured daily timetable was a huge plus. I found it more beneficial than extended periods of individual study time. It helped me stay organized and on track, making the most out of each day. What really stood out for me was the integration of academic knowledge with practical and industry-based education. It made the learning process more dynamic and relevant. This holistic approach was incredibly valuable in preparing me for real-world applications. 
Studying in Klagenfurt was an absolute delight. The location was a jackpot – close to Italy and the Mediterranean, offering a beautiful mix of cultures and experiences. Not to forget the proximity to ski areas and hiking spots, plus that stunning lake – it was a dream for someone who appreciates both academic growth and a vibrant lifestyle. 

How did it shape your path after graduation?
The education I received at CUAS played a pivotal role in shaping my trajectory post-graduation. The program equipped me with the tools necessary to excel in the competitive realm of the medical devices industry. Its international recognition further amplified the value of my qualifications, paving the way for numerous opportunities. 
The prestige associated with CUAS, especially within this specialized study program, was a significant asset. Its international standing didn’t just bolster my credentials but also provided the leverage to explore further academic pursuits. Thanks to this reputation, I was fortunate to pursue my master’s degree in Ireland. 

How did you get to Ireland?
My honours project led me to the University of Limerick in Ireland, where I developed and prototyped a wireless accelerometer-based respiratory sensor system for wearable health monitoring. After a successful honours project and the completion of my bachelor’s degree I went back to Ireland to study a Master of Science in Biomedical Device Materials at the University of Limerick. I completed the research component of my masters in conjunction with Stryker Orthopaedics. My thesis was entitled, “Advanced materials characterisation to analyse microstructure and defects of Ti-6Al-4V components produced by additive manufacturing.” 
From there I went to work as a Research and Development Engineer for Teva Pharmaceuticals. Where I created and developed new and existing medical device products under GMP/ISO13485 regulations. Within their respiratory device engineering department, I worked on proprietary and generic products enabling the delivery of therapies through mechanical respiratory devices (inhalers and handheld nebulisers).
After about two and a half years I moved onto a new adventure, which led me to Auckland, New Zealand. During my time at Fisher and Paykel Healthcare, I was working within multidisciplinary development teams to research and develop new technologies to be included in several face mask products for use with PAP and NIV therapy. Within the OSA Interface Department, I contributed to the development of an under-the-nose, full-face mask, and its delivery to market. During my time in the NIV Interface Department, I have supported design change resulting from market feedback and worked on a system that allows clinicians to easily transition patients from one therapy to another.  

What is your current position? Can you explain your work with Enztec?
After about four and a half years in Auckland, I transitioned to product development management at Enztec in Christchurch, New Zealand. I help solve our customer’s problems! I represent the customer’s voice within our organisation and ensure a successful delivery of their products by overseeing the product scope and product development. As the key customer contact, I ensure their needs are met during every step of development.
I work on identifying and pursuing new opportunities for growth and innovation. I develop strategies, negotiate partnerships, and manage relationships with key stakeholders. I collaborate with other departments such as engineering, marketing, sales, and regulatory affairs, manufacturing, and production to ensure the successful development, launch and adoption of new products.

Would you recommend studying at CUAS and if yes, why?
Absolutely! My previous answers might explain why I highly recommend CUAS. Additionally, the individualized approach at CUAS was exceptional; I always felt my needs were met, and that personalized attention was directly related to the smaller class sizes I mentioned earlier. 

Do you want to read more about our alumna from 2014? Check out the post “Making An Impact for Human Health” on ChristchurchNZ

MedTech @ FH Kärnten Team