Our day at SLU Parks College was packed with learning activities! The morning’s focus was Biomedical Engineering, led by Scott Sell, PhD, professor in the BME school. Dr. Sell specializes in tissue engineering, a subset of biomedical engineering that uses concepts from biology, chemistry and engineering to repair and replace damaged tissue and organs.
The students were shown three types of scaffolding techniques used to engineer tissue – electrospinning, cryogels, and hydrogels. They learned that different techniques are used for different functions, and applications include encapsulating cells and generating scaffolding to help tissue to grow.
Working in groups of three, students first became familiar with alginate, the process for making alginate hydrogels. They were then tasked with creating three different kinds of alginate hydrogels and testing their compressive strength to compare with the properties of native tissues.
From tissue engineering, we moved on to a robotics demonstration. The robot we saw was designed to perform spinal surgery. It picked up screws and then screwed them into a foam board, a test for its ultimate purpose of putting screws into a human spine in surgery. Ultimately, this robot is designed to be used in conjunction with computer imaging so that surgeons can perform difficult procedures with more ease and precision.
Lunch came next—a great visit with Engineering Dean Michelle Sabick and a wonderful group of SLU Engineering students and graduates. CJ students had the opportunity to ask many questions about the different types of engineering majors at Parks, what an engineering education looks and feels like and how the SLU students chose their particular disciplines.
After lunch, we moved into Aerospace Engineering and saw two different examples of wind tunnels used to test the aerodynamics of different airplane designs. After learning the basic principles involved in making wind tunnels, students tried their hand at building one—working in pairs to achieve the highest wind speed possible using fans, cardboard and tape. Tests of each trial let them know how successful they were!
We ended our day learning about drones. SLU students who are working with drones to increase their distance and ability to autocorrect and avoid unpredicted obstacles performed various demonstrations. Then CJ students took a turn at the controls, flying both a large and a small drone. Some pilots were more successful than others, but everyone had a great time! Our day at SLU Parks College was enlightening, active and fun! Tomorrow we board the bus to Hannibal, MO to explore Manufacturing and Mechanical engineering with Watlow!