Dr. Andrew Meyers and Dr. Taylor Moon had a problem they wished to solve: What sort of meaningful project could two of their grade eleven AT biology students, Kennedy Amorim and Ashley Hardner, pursue while the seniors in the class were occupied with their independent study projects?
The answer came in the form of a one-month learning program called BioTrek, sponsored by BioFabUSA. BioFab works in conjunction with the Advanced Regenerative Manufacturing Institute (ARMI), a non-profit organization located in Manchester, New Hampshire. ARMI's mission is to make practical the large-scale manufacturing of engineered tissues and tissue-related technologies to benefit existing industries and grow new ones.
Kathleen Hannabach, Education & Workforce Development Program Coordinator at ARMI, described the program:
“BioTrek is a student-led, project-based learning program that exposes students to the science and career opportunities of biofabrication and regenerative medicine. The objective of the BioTrek program is for students to work in teams, to:
Identify and research a problem within human biology that they would like to solve (e.g. heart disease, diabetes, ligament replacement);
Develop a biofabrication-based solution to solve that problem in the form of a TEMP (tissue engineered medical product);
Create a business model around the product, including advertising and target markets
Create a powerpoint to pitch their ideas to a panel of industry experts, in a Shark Tank fashion.
Through the research and work associated with the program, students learn how to approach and solve complex problems and communicate their findings to a variety of audiences-- peers, staff, industry leaders.”
Amorim and Hardner partnered on a project to find a new treatment for peripheral nerve damage. Their presentation included case studies, a detailed discussion of all components of their proposed procedure, as well as a business model. On May 24, they pitched their product to four judges representative of the diverse divisions at ARMI: regulatory, process technician, lab technician, and 3D bioprinting at the ARMI/BioFab Technology Center in Manchester.
After the presentation, Dr. Moon reported, “Panelists commented that the girls were very good presenters, speaking clearly and confidently about their idea.”
Kathleen Hannabach added, “Ashley and Kennedy were very motivated and self-directed from the start, choosing a problem that was personal and intriguing to them, and designing an extraordinary TEMP that highlights the bold advances of regenerative medicine. Their pitch presentation was as dynamic as they are, and reflected their research and passion.”