I had the privilege of visiting the BioFab3D labs at St Vincent’s hospital for a professional development session during my placement in the Superhumans programs. It provided insight into how two contrasting areas of study can be combined to create modern solutions to real-world problems.
We were able to observe current medical applications of the lab’s 3D printers as we were shown around; which aim to recreate various body parts using living cells, called bioprinting, rather than metals and plastics. Learning about how this technology is being used to treat cartilage, bone and muscle regenerative problems has further demonstrated the importance of programs that have a strong focus on using technology like this to teach STEM-related skills to students; Superhumans being a prime example of this. I feel it is crucial to inspire as many students as possible to pursue study in STEM fields from an early age.
Another noteworthy aspect of this lab are the strong connections it has with various tertiary institutions. There are 5 different institutions with connections to the lab: The University of Melbourne, RMIT, The University of Wollongong, Swinburne University, and the ARC Centre of Excellence for Electromaterials Science. All of these institutions had an important role in establishing this lab, and students from all these institutions are encouraged to use the facilities to conduct research during their studies. The lab values the collaboration between different disciplines, and it achieves this by allowing students from all these institutions a chance to come together and create exciting new ideas.
I am excited to see what future advancements will come from this lab. They are already doing research with stem cells in hopes of achieving feats such as organ regrowth and creating new brain cells to combat epilepsy. Perhaps these are feats the students of the future will be able to achieve after being introduced to these technologies from an earlier age. Personally, after participating in the tour I feel more inclined to incorporate alternative curriculums in my own units of work that I design for my students as a way of not only adding variety to my lessons but also demonstrating the plethora of ways students can apply the skills they learn.
written by Enver Bise