Stevens Biomedical Engineering Undergraduates Present at National Conference
Marlee Kopetsky ’23, Maggie Gottschall ’23 and Cara McMahon ’24 traveled to Texas to present their bone scaffold research at the Biomedical Engineering Society’s annual conference
When biomedical engineering undergraduate students Marlee Kopetsky ’23, Maggie Gottschall ’23 and Cara McMahon ’24 began their research in a biomaterials lab course with Department of Biomedical Engineering Professor Sally Shady, they never expected to present their research at the 2022 National Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES) Conference in front of biomedical engineers from all over the country.
As part of the course, the three students were tasked with analyzing the mechanical properties of bone to design a scaffold to be used as a medical implant that balanced compression strength and cell proliferation.
“We heard from the beginning of the semester that Dr. Shady, our professor, had said that if you do well on this project, you can submit it to a conference,” Kopetsky explained. Being a Texas native herself, she and the group hoped to create a product they could submit to the upcoming BMES conference scheduled to be held in San Antonio, Texas.
Over the course of five months, the three students constructed models through computer-aided design, 3D printed their product, calculated bone porosity and stress and strain, and ran simulated and physical tests.
After presenting their results in class, the students took initiative and submitted their work to the Biomedical Engineering Society. In the summer of 2022, they were accepted to present their poster at the annual conference.
When talking about the experience, the students’ excitement was evident in their eyes. They said they enjoyed the opportunity to present their own research alongside experts who asked insightful questions and spurred thought-provoking dialogue.
"It was so fun to be around other biomedical engineering students from other schools who share similar passion for the work we do. We were able to discuss our research and compare notes,” said Kopetsky.
The students presented their work alongside 200 other projects and learned about a variety of topics within biomedical engineering, ranging from scaffolds and stents to projects on the mechanics of childbirth.
Kopetsky, Gottschall and McMahon agreed that a main takeaway from the experience — conducting the research and presenting at the conference — was the need for flexibility to succeed.
"You have to learn to pivot!" Gottschall exclaimed. For example, when the students began their research, they expected results to point to a specific bone but later found that their scaffold was better suited to the radial bone in the forearm.
McMahon noted that "part of the class is using the results to shape the project and learn how to present your data.” It's this kind of drive that opens students up to incredible experiences at the BMES conference.
When asked about their future plans, the three students were in agreement: hopefully, presenting a project next October in Seattle at the next annual convention.