Innovation Knows No Age Limits

Dr. Andrew Greene

Dr. Andrew Greene, professor, has found exceptional success in developing programs that challenge students to think creatively to solve real-world biotechnology and bioengineering problems. In the fall of 2013, Dr. Greene worked with engineers Bonnie Freudinger and Brian Lanning, who served as mentors for two St. Thomas More High School Students, Heidi Golembiewski and Lauren Champeau, on a science fair project.

Their project, “Theraband Rehabilitation,” a device that helps patients perform physical therapy exercises at home, took second place in Wisconsin in the “Project Lead the Way” competition. The project just happened to be on display when Bill Avery, Executive Vice President and Chief Information Officer of Direct Supply – a Milwaukee-based company that provides medical equipment and solutions for senior living – came to MCW to meet with Dr. Greene to discuss ways to collaborate on programs that would encourage young scientists to stay in the Milwaukee area.

Avery was excited about the device, and saw the opportunity to utilize it as a springboard to develop a program in which Direct Supply would support engineering interns to work in the laboratories, so they could learn how to turn their ideas into innovative products. Along with his colleagues – Peter Klug, Rehabilitation Manager and Tom Paprocki, Director of Development and Innovation – Avery and Direct Supply helped for a group to guide this group of students through the process of preparing their product prototype for marketing.

Additionally, two Marquette University co-op students, Brittany Scaglione and Justin Prom, worked with the MCW and Direct Supply teams to transform the original design into one that not only meets the needs of physical therapists and patients, but one that was also easy to manufacture and distribute. The Theraband product is now entering its final stages of testing, and will soon be sold and distributed by Direct Supply.

The success of this collaboration has led Direct Supply to continue their support of this program, by funding student interns and co-op students in engineering labs based at MCW for the next several years. Additionally, this academic industrial collaboration provides students the opportunity to work in an environment that marries innovation with hands-on experience.

Read other stories like this one from the Marquette University and Medical College of Wisconsin Biomedical Engineering Department.

Student using milling machine

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