A multifaceted industry partnership, demonstrating the intrinsic links between medical research, advanced manufacturing, and the desire to improve people's lives.
Anatomics is an Australian owned, Melbourne-based medical device company that designs and manufactures implants for surgical purposes. The Anatomics story began with the first BioModel from CT data developed in 1995, using a $1200 grant, provided by Princess Hospital Foundation in Brisbane. Recently, Anatomics developed the world’s first titanium spinal implant for a cancer survivor in Spain. Today, Anatomics is an internationally renowned, advanced manufacturing success story, with medical and hospital partners from all over the world, using Anatomics solutions to change and improve people's lives.
MTS has enjoyed a rich and diverse partnership with Anatomics since 2017.
The partnership is diverse, with Anatomics staff being involved in providing industry tours for MTS staff, mentoring, and the provision of archived and outmoded resources to support our programs. Importantly, many aspects of the partnership focus on “in-kind” support rather than the provision of grants and other financial support.
Inspired by Anatomics’ work with 3D printed products, MTS has created a program that challenges students to create a solution for a medical scenario. Students are given the task to create a bionic, wearable or implant that might treat a patient. In teams, students design and develop solutions with semi-functional prototypes, which must include a 3D printed element. By the end of the program, students, in teams, will have ideated, designed, and presented their version of a ‘hospital of the future”, taking into account all of the learnings they have gathered throughout the program.
From early beginnings, originating from a successful grant application, the partnership has continued to evolve, with the introduction of an industry tour for facilitators to the Anatomics 3D lab in St Kilda East, and more recently, their new facilities in East Bentleigh. The industry tours kickstarted the design of a Year 7 Superhumans program, and it has created an opportunity for facilitators to visit an advanced manufacturing medical site.
As a result of visiting this state-of-the-art site, MTS program developers have been better able to understand the fusion between advanced manufacturing, science, and health and put into context the relationship between different industry sectors. By default, students have also benefited from staff learnings through the opportunity for staff to provide practical examples of how advanced manufacturing and medical technologies are intertwined. Staff have taken their own learnings from the industry tour and have been able to design a health program that allows students to develop a deeper level of empathy, understanding of research, the importance of innovation and technology processes, and incorporates these new learnings into the ideation phase of the Superhumans program. Students and teachers have learned how different occupations working in the advanced manufacturing and engineering sector can directly contribute to medical advancements that improve people's lives.
The partnership between Anatomics and MTS has also created a display cabinet to support students' understanding of implant design that features real products that have been created by Anatomics. Archived items have been displayed to demonstrate the early stages of their product development and manufacturing, as well as some of Anatomics more recent work, including 3D printing a section of a sternum. There is a highly creative, artistic element to the work of Anatomics, and this is clearly demonstrated in a visual format. Where else can students see a 3D printed, hot pink prototype of a human skull, or a BioModel of a baby, created from 3D ultrasound data? Importantly, the display provides students with tangible examples of a manufactured product and how it is used in a medical procedure.
Anatomics has been able to contribute to and support MTS program development in a number of ways. This partnership demonstrates the variety of ways in which industry can support the Tech Schools initiative. In some instances, Anatomics has provided a “light touch” contribution to MTS development, such as attending openings and launches. Other examples demonstrate a deeper commitment, directly influencing and contributing to program delivery by providing industry tour options, which generate facilitators deeper understanding of innovative practices or lending artefacts to MTS which enable students to better understand the ideation and prototyping process.
The work students produce through the Superhumans program, generates empathy, teamwork and creative approaches to “big thinking” community issues which inevitably will impact all of us over time. Anatomics support of the Superhumans program also demonstrates the critical role advanced manufacturing plays within the Health sector and it clearly shows how STEAM is interwoven through all industries and occupations. Through this process, we hope to close the gap between education and industry and inspire young learners to enter this expansive, fulfilling and innovative space.