2016-2017 ISUR Scholar, Pierce Hadley, and team aim to improve high school anatomy education

Pierce Hadley, a 2016-2017 ISUR Scholar, and his team presented their project “3D Printed Anatomy and Physiology Models” at the 98th Engineering Open House.

Physical anatomical models are cost effective alternatives to using cadavers for medical education, but some can still cost in the range of $100-$1500. Thus, 3D-printing provides a low-cost alternative for fabricating these models at a fraction of the original cost. Their bioengineering team is using this methodology to provide low-cost models to local anatomy classrooms, teach about new bioengineering topics with the associated models, and use the experience to better their own presentation, computational, and fabrication skills.

The idea for their project developed through a meeting with a local high school class. Last summer, the bioengineering department hosted students from Le Roy, Illinois to teach them about 3D-printing applications in medicine. When asked about this experience, Hadley said “When one of the teachers saw the massive skull that the Ford Motors Printing Lab, in the Mechanical Engineering Lab, he began to recount his time as the A&P instructor for the school. Because the district is rural, there are limited resources to dedicate towards the expensive anatomical models; models must be shared and cannot typically be removed from the classroom. After hearing this experience, we contacted the Le Roy superintendent, principal, and current A&P instructor, Mr. Brandon Reynolds. After meetings with Mr. Reynolds, we identified key organ systems that we could print and provide to the students free of charge. This is an exciting opportunity because now the teaching can more than just in-class and in a textbook; the students can take these models home and annotate/draw on the models to whatever extent helps them study. In addition to this, we have taken the opportunity to provide supplemental lectures to the students to discuss new bioengineering trends in the field. For example, during the skeletal unit we discussed bone tissue engineering advances using 3D-printing technologies, as 3D-printing is the main focus of all of our efforts.”

Going forward the team hopes to use the funds granted from the Office of Undergraduate Research to facilitate their efforts towards additional schools and build a larger 3D-printing library for fabricating even more anatomical models. While Pierce is graduating this year, the rest of his team members are all sophomores. He is excited to see how they continue to expand and develop this project after he graduates.

More about the teams experience presenting at Engineering Open House can be found here.