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College hosts students for National Biomechanics Day

Student participates in a virtual reality activity in the HRL lab.

The College of Engineering hosted events to mark National Biomechanics Day on April 11 that drew hundreds of students from seven local high schools.

Broadly defined as mechanics applied to biology, biomechanics applies mechanical principles to the human body in order to understand movement and the structure and function of different tissues, such as bones and muscles. National Biomechanics Day is an annual world-wide celebration of biomechanics in its many forms for high school students and teachers.

Students from Wake, Orange and Cumberland county schools were invited to participate in an expo-style event held on NC State’s Centennial Campus.

Activities covering a variety of topics related to biomechanics were offered, including:

  • A station where students measured the force and hang time of their best vertical jump, similar to a basketball player, to see how they compare to a professional athlete like Michael Jordan
  • A hand-crank mechanical tester that measured the force required to bend and ultimately break a bone
  • A look at how 3D printing, a rapid and inexpensive method for fabricating objects, can be used to help patients regrow new tissue after an injury
  • A virtual reality food fight that highlighted software tools used in rehabilitation to help patients recover hand function after physical or brain injury
  • A powered ankle control prosthesis station at which students were able to handle a prototype and explore how a prosthesis can be controlled by a patient using her mind and muscles
  • A demonstration of how muscle strength depends on joint posture, illustrating how both muscle force capacity and moment arm are affected when a joint moves.

The NC State National Biomechanics Day event was organized by Dr. Jacqueline Cole, assistant professor in the UNC-NC State Joint Department of Biomedical Engineering (BME), and Stephanie Teeter, a research technician in BME.

“Biomechanics is such an exciting and relevant field that impacts lives every day, helping us move better and heal better after injury, yet students often never even hear the term until college,” Cole said. “By engaging with high school students and teachers in this fun outreach event over the past three years, we hope that they have become captivated by biomechanics and STEM in general and are inspired to explore more both inside and outside the classroom.”

Sponsorship was provided by the BME and Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering (MAE) departments. A host of volunteers helped make the event a success, including engineering graduate and undergraduate students, faculty members, and staff from BME, MAE, Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE), The Engineering Place (the College’s K-20 engineering education outreach program), and the Research Triangle Nanotechnology Network.

Other faculty members in the College who were involved in the event included:

  • Dr. Matthew Fisher, assistant professor in BME
  • Dr. Helen Huang, professor in BME and director of BME’s Closed-Loop Engineering for Advanced Rehabilitation (CLEAR) core
  • Dr. Naji Husseini, teaching assistant professor in BME
  • Dr. Katherine Saul, associate professor in MAE
  • Dr. Derek Kamper, associate professor in BME and associate director of the CLEAR core
  • Dr. Marie Muller, assistant professor in MAE
  • Dr. Ashley Brown, assistant professor in BME
  • Dr. Michael Daniele, assistant professor in ECE and BME