When other teens talk about how they spent their summer vacation, Copley junior Robert Wagner will be able to say he created a device that could someday save a life.
Wagner, 16, of Fairlawn was one of 13 Northeast Ohio teens who participated Monday through Friday this week in the BioInnovation Academy at the Austen BioInnovation Institute in Akron.
The program was launched to encourage area youth to pursue careers in the biomedical field.
Participants spent eight hours each day learning how to use computer-aided design software, researching the medical device industry and working in teams to create prototypes of new products using a 3-D printer.
“It was real-life experience of life as an engineer,” said Elizabeth Barber, coordinator of the BioInnovation Academy.
The academy started with a simulation of a person experiencing sudden cardiac arrest. After a discussion about the challenges of saving lives with CPR and automated external defibrillators, the teams of teens were encouraged to come up with ways to address the problems.
Wagner worked with Andi Wang, 16, of Orange and Grant Zempolich, 16, of Shaker Heights throughout the week to design a more portable CPR mask that could be adjusted to fit young children or larger adults.
With the help of BioInnovation Institute staff, the three conducted market research to determine the need for the new device. They also worked with BioInnovation Institute engineers to create a prototype of their product, which operates similar to an umbrella.
The smaller CPR mask could be marketed to health-care professional and anyone who has completed CPR training, Wagner said.
“People would be more likely to give mouth-to-mouth if they had a mask such as this, possibly saving lives,” he said.
Wagner said the academy fits with his future plans of becoming a biomedical engineer.
“I want to help people live better lives,” he said.
The BioInnovation Institute was launched five years ago by Akron’s three hospital systems, the University of Akron and Northeast Ohio Medical University to boost medical-related economic development, education, research and community health in the region.
The institute offered its BioInnovation Academy to Northeast Ohio students who will enter grades 10 through 12 in the fall. The event was part of the BioInnovation Institute’s ongoing efforts to educate and inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs, engineers and medical professionals.
“You engage them by finding exciting, hands-on experiences,” said Vivek Narayan, a program manager with the BioInnovation Institute.
A second session of the BioInnovation Academy will take place July 15 through 19 at the BioInnovation Institute’s headquarters in downtown Akron.
Along with a device track, students can choose from a community health track designed for teens interested in medicine, social sciences and public health administration.
The cost of the weeklong BioInnovation Academy is $750 but scholarships are available.
For more information about the academy, email email@example.com.
Cheryl Powell can be reached at 330-996-3902 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Powell on Twitter at twitter.com/abjcherylpowell.