While she was a student at PLNU, Erika Weisdorfer (19) felt a calling to use her engineering physics degree in a healthcare setting. Now married, working, running a side business, and in grad school, Weisdorfer has been busy pursuing that call since she completed her undergraduate degree in winter 2019, just before the COVID-19 pandemic began affecting daily life in the U.S.

Weisdorfer currently works for Qualitest, a company that performs software and systems testing for a variety of clients. The client Weisdorfer is currently working with is a medical device company that specializes in artificial heart valves and hemodynamic monitoring devices. The devices are normally used in a critical care setting for patients undergoing or recovering from cardiac or artificial heart valve surgery.

In 2020, the devices also became important for monitoring COVID-19 patients undergoing mechanical ventilation. The device’s predictive software uses a variety of sensors attached to the patient to monitor patient hemodynamics and can alert a clinician if a patient needs to be checked or is at risk of developing certain complications.

Weisdorfer’s role has been systems and software testing, looking at bugs that could prevent information from transmitting correctly to the device.

“There are a lot of calculations involved to get the graphs and pictures to show up properly,” Weisdorfer said. “As the information on the screen is used to make real-time decisions regarding patient care, it is extremely important that the information is accurate and displays properly. If at any point the hardware or software malfunctions, this could put a patient’s life at risk.”

Another of her projects involves working on cutting-edge innovations related to patient monitoring and cybersecurity. 

“Cybersecurity is a huge concern in the healthcare industry, so it is critical for medical device companies to consider cybersecurity vulnerabilities in order to protect patient information. I am glad that our client understands this concern and is taking steps to keep their devices secure,” she said. With that in mind, she’s working on designing test scenarios to detect potential security threats in the system, and she’s also ensuring that the latest security protocols are used.

“Cybersecurity is a huge concern in the healthcare industry, so it is critical for medical device companies to consider cybersecurity vulnerabilities in order to protect patient information.”

“It’s very interesting to me to be working during this time,” she said. “I’m very interested in working at the forefront of technology in healthcare.”

Weisdorfer’s experience at PLNU helped foster that interest.

“I had amazing professors at Point Loma,” she said. “I was part of the honors scholars program and had an excellent experience working with faculty. The Christ-centered education really influenced what I feel is my calling to work in this field of healthcare. I really think that everything I learned during my time at PLNU has informed my choice to always explore opportunities to use my skills in a way that could help others.”

While working, Weisdorfer is pursuing her master’s degree in applied biomedical engineering through Johns Hopkins University.

Erika and her husband Kemal at their graduation.

Meanwhile, Erika’s husband Kemal (19), a PLNU business management grad, has been busy working for the Registrar of Voters in San Diego. Erika and Kemal are high school sweethearts and have been married since May 2016. Their wedding and some of Erika’s college expenses were able to be offset by work she has been doing on the side since 2010. In high school, she formed her own company designing websites and doing computer repair. Kemal then brought his knowledge of building computers to the business, which they have operated together since 2016.

Working in a fast-paced field, undertaking grad school, running her own business, and nurturing her marriage keep Weisdorfer busy, but she would like to add one more role to her plate when the pandemic is over. She’d like to serve as a mentor or role model for girls through her church and maybe in other venues. As a successful young woman in a STEM career, she feels this would be a meaningful way to give back.

“My husband has twin 12-year-old sisters, and they are both interested in engineering,” she said. “They’ve inspired me to be a role model, and I hope I can inspire other young girls to pursue a career in STEM.”

Erika Weisdorfer has also been honored with a 2021 PLNU Homecoming Alumni Award. To learn more, visit the PLNU Homecoming website.

Christine is the editor of the Viewpoint magazine at PLNU.