Student Spotlight: BioPrint club helps people and pets
Student Spotlight Sean Bellefeuille, third-year biomedical engineering major
Sean Bellefeuille, a third-year biomedical engineering student, helped establish a new club on campus called BioPrint. Bellefeuille, the founding president, and his friend Will Byron, a second-year biomedical engineering student and the founding vice president, were interested in creating more opportunities to experiment with 3D technologies in the realm of medicine. This spring is their first full semester and they’ve already started working on several different projects as a club.
BioPrint is a project-based club and they don’t hold weekly meetings as a club, but students will meet with their project teams regularly so they can progress in the project and report back to the club periodically. Based in the Department of Biomedical Engineering, BioPrint is just one of many ways that students are applying what they learn to projects they are passionate about.
Question: What is the BioPrint club?
Answer: RIT BioPrint is a club that explores 3D technologies in the medical field. The applications of this technology can be anything from prosthetics to assistive devices, to surgical models and other things like that. We use today’s technology to create something that will help someone in the medical field, for both animals and humans. As a club, we have two pillars: teach and do. For the first pillar, we have a lot of workshops where we teach younger students the programs we are working with, which is helpful for when they look for co-ops. The second pillar is fulfilled with the projects where we use what we learn and do something with it. We usually do one or two workshops a month, and we work on the projects every week.
Q: Why did BioPrint choose to work on projects for both humans and animalsTell me about your projects working with the local veterinary offices?
A: The animal side is one of my personal interests, so I really pushed for that. We have quite a few resources in Rochester for the animal aspect, like Lollipop Farm and the Veterinary Specialists & Emergency Service hospital in Henrietta. I looked into a couple different possibilities and found that they wanted our help and wanted to work with us. We got two projects from that effort and the help of our department. Will (Byron) is more interested in the human side of this technology. He did his own outreach and that’s where we got one of our other projects, working with a local amputee.
Q: How did these collaborations happen?
A: The first project we did before the club officially started was with Dr. Daniel Hoffmann, the head of surgery at the Veterinary Specialists & Emergency Service. He reached out to the biomedical engineering department head Dr. (Steven) Day to ask if anyone would be able to create a surgical model for him. He wanted to plan the surgery better, because it was a difficult case and he couldn’t visualize it well. We had actually never done anything like this, and he asked us to get it done in a week, but we still agreed to work on the project. After this project went well, the same doctor came to us with a new project that he needed help with and we, obviously, accepted. Our work with Lollypop Farm started with Cristina Cadavieco, the head of Veterinary Medicine at Lollypop. We got involved with them after I sent them an email explaining who we were and what we did and told them if they were interested in our services to just let us know. I actually got an email back two days later saying they just received a black lab that had a prior amputation and later got hit by a car, fracturing the hip of the remaining back leg. They asked us if there was anything we could do, and we told them we were interested and would do our best. They were actually going to put Molly, the dog, down, but after reading our email and talking with us they decided they were going to keep her alive and see if we could create a device for her.
Q: In your opinion, what impact do you think this technology can have on the veterinary and medical fields?
A: I think it can have a great and positive impact on it. There are just so many opportunities to learn about different things with 3D technology and how to apply it in ways you’ve never even thought of. In terms of personalized medicine, I think this technology would really help. Customizing things for different people, like making a model for surgery that is specific to the patient, is amazing. It’s something that will really help surgeons. There’s a lot of technology out there and there are so many ways of exploring it, people just don’t know because they haven’t tried.
Q: What projects are you currently working on?
A: We are working on six projects right now and each one has a leader. We are working on two projects with the Veterinary Specialists & Emergency Service and Lollypop, which I’m leading. We have another project called Golfer Gary, which is working with an older man who lost eight of his fingers after being put into a medically induced coma. He loves to play golf and, despite his amputations, he still wants to play. So, we developed a prototype of a new assistive device that will hopefully make golfing easier and more comfortable for him. He’s in Florida testing it now and will give us feedback when he returns. Another project we are working on is the RIT Arm. We have two teams working on specific components dealing with enhancing the mobility of a previously developed device. The other two are more technology based and don’t directly involve a patient. One is called Hack-a-Kinect. Mostly computing majors worked on this, and they were working with an Xbox Kinect to try to use the device to create a scanner. The last project is called Printer Refurb. We have a couple of old 3D printers that we are trying to fix up to see if we can get them working again. It’s a great opportunity to learn about how the printers work, because the printers break down a lot and being able to know how to fix them is really important and a good skill to have.
Q: Who can get involved with the club?
A: Anyone can join the BioPrint club. There are so many different kinds of students involved. We have liberal arts students, engineering students, health science students. We have all kinds of people and we accept everyone. If you’re interested in something and you have a skill that can be used to help us with the medical technology, we will find a job for you.
April 24, 2019
Running in Circles: Engineering students build Human Hamster Wheel
The big wheel will turn, but the hamsters will be humans instead. Students in RIT’s Engineering House built a Human Hamster Wheel, and instead of running in circles, as the cliché goes, their 7-foot wheel will produce electricity. Open to children and adults, the wheel will be one of many interactive exhibits featured at this year’s Imagine RIT: Creativity and Innovation Festival on April 27.
April 23, 2019
RIT researchers help conduct experiment to study how the first stars and galaxies formed
While many people flock to warm destinations for spring break, two RIT experimental cosmologists spent theirs 6,800 feet high on snow-covered Kitt Peak at the Arizona Radio Observatory. They were deploying an instrument to a 12-meter telescope for a project called the Tomographic Ionized-carbon Mapping Experiment (TIME), which aims to study the universe’s first stars and galaxies.
April 23, 2019
Packaging solutions improve product shelf life and sustainability
Images of plastic bags and bottles clogging beaches and oceans have some calling for a ban on all such products. But packaging experts say it’s not that easy to eliminate a highly effective material. Instead, researchers at RIT are looking to strike a balance: Find a way to produce plastics that retain their best qualities and yet are more environmentally friendly.
April 23, 2019
Gas prices got you down? Imagine RIT attendees can get up to speed on electric, hybrid ‘e-bikes’
Imagine RIT visitors interested in learning about electric and hybrid-electric bikes get to participate in an interactive exhibit and discussion on the growing travel mode inside the Golisano Institute for Sustainability on April 27.