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  • Gregg Cannady

Engineering the Future of Healthcare Gregg Cannady

Oct. 6, 2020

Students and teachers from Belize joined students and teachers from Colorado to discover the intersection of technology and engineering with healthcare.

Our guilds for this journey were leaders from three successful companies.

Stryker / The 3D Printing Store / CoorsTek

Representing Stryker were two senior engineers, Kristen Shaughnessy and Morgan Kollmeier.

Kristen and Morgan were able to add an important human connections to the great work Skryker is doing. In their presentation we saw the values of their company, a passion for healthcare, and an adventure that is changing the world.

The 3D Printing Store CEO Debra Wilcox expanded our knowledge of what happens in 3D printing. As someone who has provided numerous internship opportunities to students, she understands the infinite potential that young people bring to industry.

Andy Thomas, CoorsTek Sr. Director, Global R & D Operations, was able to connect a passion for chemistry to the unique role that ceramics play in manufacturing and healthcare. Students attending were introduced to an expanded view of engineering practices. The future of healthcare seems to be an endless sea of possibilities for students to swim in.ADD - importance of girls in Belize leading innovation

A few of the schools represented were:

Edward P. Yorke High School

Anglian Cathedral College

PathLight International

HS Science Research Students, Limon, Co

STEM School Highlands Ranch


During and after the presentation, students were able to post questions in CHAT.

You mentioned that the bonds composing the materials in your ceramics vary from covalent to ionic; does this mean that some ceramics are electrically conductive while others are not?

From Andy Thomas - CoorsTek : The question about bonding in ceramics. Yes, some of our ceramic materials have degrees of electrical and thermal conductivity. For the semiconductor industry, we produce products that are electrostatically dissipative. Our ceramics can dissipate static charge so it does not build up and zap a sensitive chip.

Since you guys work with spinal surgery I assume you perform surgery for scoliosis..if so can you kindly explain some of the dangers with this particular operation?

Morgan Kollmeier (Senior Engineer, Stryker) : For the question regarding scoliosis, we do have spinal systems that can be used for patients afflicted with this pathology. Generally risks of surgery increase as you get older, but some complications include infection, neurologic complications, lung complications, blood clots, and pain where bone chips are removed. All spinal surgeries are highly regulated to reduce the risk of these complications

What are the materials or substances used in the 3D printers in order to produce these objects of different textures?

Debra Wilcox (3d Printing Store) : We print with over 150 different materials and new materials are being introduced every week. There are polymers, metals, ceramics and many combinations of materials that have new and interesting properties.

How did COVID 19 impacted the work and development of neuro tech at Stryker?

From Kristen Shaughnessy : In regards to the COVID 19 question - I can't speak specifically to the neuro tech's experience. However, Stryker's response to the Pandemic was inspiring. My team and others did experience many hurdles as most of our workforce transitioned to working from home. We focused heavily on our employees physical and mental health and a work and home life balance. We also had to get creative with internal engagement as well as customer engagement, utilizing video chats and other technology to remove the barrier of working behind a screen all the time. Additionally, Stryker doubled down on the efforts to provide PPE to hospitals and even created a new hospital bed (developed in 10 days!) that was cheap and easy to manufacture.

Could they 3D print pain sensors, if so, would they work just like a regular pain sensor?

Debra Wilcox (3D Printing Store) : There are many kinds of wearables that include sensors for all types of applications for health monitoring or other uses that could include working external objects.

What is the affordability of 3D printed materials?

Our materials very in price from inexpensive to very expensive and that is based on the base materials that comprise the materials we print with. Some of our materials are filament and others (photopolymers) are liquid. We have some cost comparisons but that would be on a part by part basis.

Several questions we posed related to orthopedics.

Morgan Kollmeier (Senior Engineer, Stryker) : The biggest complication associated with any surgery, but specifically joint replacement surgery is infection. Many measures are taken during the surgery to prevent this from happening (including antibiotics) and there are implants that can be used in infection cases.

From Morgan Kollmeier (Senior Engineer, Stryker) : For the questions about joint replacement side effects and pain, some patients can have complications after surgeries, but many measures are taken to reduce these. While a patient may feel sore after surgery, this usually passes after a short period of time. Patients who have their joints replaced have these procedures done because they are in so much pain usually from osteoarthritis, so the pain of the surgery is so much less and is very short lived in comparison to their chronic pain

From Kristen Shaughnessy : An Orthopedic surgeon may perform joint replacement surgery (hip, knee, or other joints). They may also do procedures such as ACL reconstruction, spinal fusions, hip or knee arthroscopy, or tumor removal for bone cancer patients.

We ran out of time to answer all the questions. Below are a few.

Do you hold patents on the various custom materials? (for CoorsTek)

Do you guys manufacture any products centering around cerebral palsy, with either convenience for these patients, and/or surgery treatments? Thank you so much!

Do you manufacture any tools or models used by orthodontists in the field of oral and dental medicine?

What would you say that your most used field of the medical branch needs 3D printed materials?

How do you foresee the role of 3D printed organic tissue in the future?


At the end of the presentations students had the chance to submit answers to these questions.

What inspired you and what did you learn.

What you still want to know?

What you will do with what you have learned?

This session was amazing. I was able to discover things I didn't even know existed. I have been inspired to research more on both ceramics and MAKO Smart Robotics. I have decided to explore more of the options that are available.

I learned that there are people out here helping each other to make the world a better place through science

I learned about the different portfolios in biotechnology that Stryker uses, additive manufacturing, different materials, designs, and uses 3D printing can have, and how something like ceramics can have a huge place in healthcare.

The fact that with a 3D printer you can bring your ideas to life inspired me and I learned that ceramics can be used in different fields and that they are also multipurpose. I learnt that with a 3D printer you can use biodegradable products to make your item earth friendly.

I never knew that they 3-d printed prosthetics. It is truly amazing how far 3-d printing has come.

As a student aspiring to pursue a field in dentistry, I found the webinar very informative and interesting. It is amazing how engineering and manufacturing is used so much by orthodontists well as in healthcare in general.

Something that inspired me was all of the different things that each job has to offer, how they ended up with their company, and how they made their mark on the world of healthcare.

I learned about work Stryker is doing in neuro tech, the 3D work in prosthetics, creating a measurement that doesn't exist, and all that is being done through CoorsTek in the field of medical imaging materials.

Greetings-As a STEM educator I'm very passionate about the change that is required in my country. Curriculum offerings are very limited in my country and we lack support and industry personnel with the expertise. Today's presentation was an awakening. I learned many things such as 1. The revolution and usage of technology in the medical field 2. The depth and specialization that is required to in these career fields and 3. Resilient shown by the companies to adjust and re-adopt their technological demands to assist clients even in the face of crisis with the pandemic. Today's presentation introduce the participants to new career fields, one where creativity and innovation can be explored.

I still want to know if we can incorporate these methods to work on cancer cells, cancer, and other similar diseases that can be caused by genetic mutation.

I'd like to hear more detailed information on what exactly it takes to create these devices and manufacturing tools. What scientific principles and specific skills are needed to create such complex products? Additionally, more about 3D printed organic tissues would be pretty interesting.

I want to know if The companies work in the field of ocular products, if any optimal product has been or will be made to make oculists and optimists work easier as their jobs are hard because of the nerves in the eye.

Yes! Students should receive the same opportunity to learn more about how the evolution of technology has helped make breakthroughs in medicine, treat more people, and save more lives.

I would like to find out more about apprentice opportunities for our Belizean students.

I want to know what other technological devices similar to those at Stryker are available. I also would be interested in viewing the way in which these devices are used.

I would like to find out more about apprentice opportunities for our Belizean students.

Since I have had spinal fusion for scoliosis, such related fields interests me. I heard recently they managed to produce a fish which had a scoliosis-like deformation. Our understanding of the genetic factors causing scoliosis seems to be increasing, although it is still very limited.

I think the overall presentation was amazing. It was very informative and it was well prepared. I am grateful for the experience and for being able to attend this session. Thank You again!

A special thanks to Kyla Nast, Stryker (Marketing and Sales), and Ashly Clutter, CoorsTek (Communications Specialist)

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