When Rebecca Duarte, a manager at Centura Health in Summit County was tasked with finding a 3D-printed device for a doctor, she knew exactly who to call. Duarte is a STEM parent who saw two daughters graduate from the school in past years and was all too familiar with STEM’s reputation of innovation and 3D printing. The device the doctor was seeking, was a medical training device that helps teach staff how to do a cricothyrotomy, a procedure that is sometimes necessary to provide air to a patient in an emergency situation who is unable to breathe. Duarte sent an email to STEM Secondary Engineering Teacher Mike Shallenberger asking if he might know of anyone who could do the 3D print of the device. To Duarte’s surprise, Shallenberger offered up a student to handle the task. He asked STEM Senior Brent Weiffenbach to take a look at the design on paper and see if it could be printed using STEM’s 3D printers in the engineering rooms. Weiffenbach had to make some adjustments to make it all fit, but he was successful and the devices Duarte asked for were printed with perfection.
“I’m super excited,” Duarte said. “I’ve always seen a lot of openings between technology and medicine. I think medicine is one of the sciences for sure, and there has always been a big relationship between the two. We’re super excited to spare the sheep (which are typically used for the training procedure) and use the technology available to us.”
Weiffenbach, who is a certified SOLIDWORKS expert, says he was thrilled to take on the challenge.
“So we’re really excited to be donating these,” Weiffenbach said. “Since we printed them here at STEM School Highlands Ranch, it’s been a really great experience to work through this project with Mr. Shallenberger, my teacher who just kind of pulled me in and said hey we have this opportunity to make these surgical training devices and I want you to help make them and splice them and 3D print them.”
Duarte says the medical team at Centura Health will soon be receiving the devices created by Weiffenbach for a training event scheduled for the first week of December.
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