February 5, 2023

Vybirai Ka

Specialists In Health

Engineering college students acquire hands-on expertise creating well being expertise

Engineering college students acquire hands-on expertise creating well being expertise

Christian Bagg was an excessive athlete who lived to snowboard, climb and cycle.

All of it got here to a jarring halt 26 years in the past when he broke his again snowboarding and was paralyzed from the waist down.

With a background in machining, nonetheless, he shortly started to design adaptive off-road bikes in order that anybody like him with spinal twine damage might get again outdoors and on the paths.

In 2018, Bagg launched an organization referred to as Bowhead, which he and a enterprise accomplice ran out of his basement. However whereas the off-road bike was an amazing innovation, they wanted assist bringing it to market.

That’s when Bagg came upon a few College of Alberta engineering co-op program run in partnership with Edmonton’s Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital. 

The Glenrose Rehab Analysis Innovation and Expertise (GRRIT) Hub pays wages for engineering college students to work at small, rising health-technology corporations in addition to at health-care amenities —which helps corporations and clinicians develop improvements that may in the end present very important help to sufferers and in addition helps financial success for the industries.

Tatiana Place was the primary pupil from the co-op program to affix Bowhead. She was within the final phases of her diploma in mechanical and biomedical engineering and wanted another co-op placement earlier than graduating.

“I came upon that I’d be transferring to Calgary and dealing in (Christian’s) basement,” she says. “I did something and every little thing. I constructed the bikes, realized a little bit of welding, did some 3D printing of components for the bikes and ordered from completely different suppliers.”

Place says the very best half for her was witnessing how dramatically the bikes modified the lives of paraplegic purchasers who have been as soon as once more cell. 

She favored her placement a lot she returned to the corporate as manufacturing supervisor after graduating and has helped convey extra co-op college students on board. Bowhead now has a big workplace area, which homes a full workers of engineers, content material creators and athletes who’ve skilled accidents.

Engineering college students acquire hands-on expertise creating well being expertiseTatiana Place, the primary pupil from the co-op program to affix Bowhead and now the corporate’s manufacturing supervisor, works on an adaptive off-road bike. (Photograph: Provided) 

Bowhead is only one of many small Alberta biomedical corporations which have benefited from the co-op program, says the initiative’s founder, professor emeritus of mechanical engineering Gary Faulkner.

Launched 13 years in the past when Faulkner was employed as director of analysis and innovation on the Glenrose, this system raises exterior funding — at the moment about half one million {dollars} a yr — to supply engineering college students to small corporations able to design expertise that helps sufferers rehabilitate from damage.

A lot of that help has come from the College of Engineering, in addition to financial growth companies reminiscent of Alberta Innovates and Prairies Financial Improvement Canada.

About 60 college students have been positioned to date, most from the biomedical stream but in addition some from mechanical, civil, electrical and supplies engineering.

“I’d meet with sufferers and occupational and bodily therapists to establish challenges the affected person confronted every day,” says biomedical engineering pupil Andrew Archibald, who accomplished a placement final yr.

“We’d then modify an present product or develop a very new gadget to satisfy the wants of the affected person. It actually helped develop my creativity and compelled me to assume outdoors the field.”

The expertise shifted Archibald’s focus to a extra patient-centred profession, he says. He’s now finding out drugs on the U of A and is “excited to serve the group in a extra private manner.”

Faulkner says the GRRIT initiative has no real interest in the mental property for any expertise it develops. “We simply wish to assist develop a cluster of well being industries that may assist sufferers, whereas introducing college students to concepts of entrepreneurship at an early stage.”

He factors to an train gadget for the arms, arms and wrists as one other profitable product developed by this system. The concept got here from therapists on the Glenrose and was handed on to Edmonton’s Karma Machining and Manufacturing Companies — an oil and gasoline machine firm seeking to diversify. The gadget was designed by a bunch of fourth-year U of A mechanical engineering college students, who refined it with assist from college students on the Northern Alberta Institute of Expertise, says Faulkner.

One other innovation hatched by physiotherapists is a pc recreation that helps individuals with reminiscence loss navigate a visit to the grocery retailer. The sport’s avatar offers the participant a price range for a night meal and has them buy the mandatory components with out overspending.

“Our therapists thought this may assist individuals beginning to have problem with actions of day by day residing,” says Faulkner.

It’s win-win for everybody concerned, he says. “Given the character of the tasks we work on, we are likely to get the perfect college students.”

And the scholars love the hands-on expertise. “They actually take pleasure in working instantly with occupational and physiotherapists,” Faulkner notes. “In lots of circumstances it adjustments their lives.”

“I do adore it,” says Place, three years after first working with Bowhead.

“With a small firm, it’s simply unbelievable. I don’t understand how I might have discovered a extra good job.”