South Park Students See Classroom Curriculum Applied at UPMC Hospital

South Park Students See Classroom Curriculum Applied at UPMC Hospital
Posted on 04/25/2017
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Students in Mr. Siniawski’s Applied Engineering and Technology Education courses recently visited UPMC Montefiore Hospital to see the use of robotics and other advanced technologies within the healthcare environment. South Park School District Board of Directors President Mr. John Innocenti helped to coordinate the site visit.

The high school students’ day began with a demonstration of UPMC’s Tru-D Smart UVC cleaning technology. UVC light is an optimal disinfectant against drug-resistant “superbugs” such as C. Diff or MRSA.  Although this type of technology has been used in fixed water treatment and HVAC applications for decades, UPMC is one of the first medical facilities to utilize a mobile unit with microprocessor technology as the final cleaning step within its patient rooms and surgery units. The microprocessor technology calculates the area of the room and the necessary cleaning cycle time. It then implements a number of features for its safe operation.

The second presentation and walk-through introduced South Park students to UPMC’s TUG autonomous delivery vehicles. UPMC utilizes 23 robots to pick up trash and medical waste and deliver supplies, food and pharmaceuticals. The TUGs utilize sonar sensors, laser rangefinders, cameras and Wi-Fi mapping technologies to traverse the busy halls 24 hours a day. They make approximately 4,000 deliveries per week. The students were interested in the technology as it closely relates to the autonomous Vex robotics curriculum being taught in class but on a much larger and more complex scale. The students were able to interact with the TUGs, look at the complex scheduling and even see them queue their own elevator.

The final part of the day, following a quick trip through the STAT-MedEvac Command Center, gave students the opportunity to watch a live, robot-assisted surgery. South Park students cycled through two da Vinci hands-on simulators as a liver biopsy was completed using the same robot through the glass in the surgery suite. The da Vinci robot allows the surgeon to operate through a few small incisions with a  high degree of precision and control. The operator views a magnified 3-D, HD vision system and uses tiny wrist-controlled instruments that bend and rotate much more than what is possible with the human hand. Senior Josh Wagner, who plans to attend Penn State Behrend for Engineering, was excited to see the application of the different technologies and out-of-the-box thinking in the ever-expanding medical field.

The field trip was a tremendous experience and extension of learning for the Engineering and Technology Education students. Sixty percent of the students who attended stated that the experience could potentially change their career choices given the advancements and availability of jobs within the medical realm and its related fields in western Pennsylvania. Mr. Siniawski and his students want to thank Mr. Innocenti, Mr. Daniel Battista and the rest of the UPMC staff for allowing them to experience firsthand why UPMC is at the forefront of the advanced robotics and automation in the medical field.

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