First applied Medical Devices Institute comes to GVSU

By Hannah Lentz | 10/26/16 11:28pm

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GVL/Kevin Sielaff - Members of the aMDI team Kevin Weaver (right) and Brent Nowak (left) demonstrate an orthoforge device inside of the Cook-DeVos Center for Health Sciences Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2016.

by Kevin Sielaff / Grand Valley Lanthorn

Grand Rapids is known for many things. From craft beers to diverse museums and a continually growing healthcare industry, businesses related to these industries are moving to West Michigan in search of a new and engaged market.

After being approved a year ago following increased interest from the community, Brent Nowak, director of the first applied Medical Devices Institute (aMDI) in West Michigan has been working to serve the healthcare community of the greater Grand Rapids area.

Kevin Sielaff

GVL/Kevin Sielaff - Members of the aMDI team Kevin Weaver (right) and Brent Nowak (left) demonstrate an external catheter device that is used to prevent UTI's inside of the Cook-DeVos Center for Health Sciences Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2016.

Nowak has been involved with the healthcare industry throughout most of his professional life. Throughout his work with various divisions of the healthcare industry, Nowak has worked to found multiple medical device companies and has also worked creating intelligence systems for several organizations to meet the needs of communities.

Located on the Medical Mile in the Cook-DeVos Center for Health Sciences, the aMDI develops analytical and physical modes of testing medical devices for technical feasibility.

Currently, the Grand Rapids aMDI employs three graduate students and two undergraduate students from GVSU as well as a full-time engineer. Student involvement and community application is the driving force behind the institute, Nowak said.

"This is a chance to be totally immersed in an educational experience," Nowak said. "That's our primary goal. This is a perfect fit for an applied environment."

Though the aMDI focuses on the use and application of medical device technology, the institute provides opportunities for students from all disciplines at GVSU. As part of this idea of comprehensive community involvement, a capstone class from the school of communications is working with aMDI to create a marketing campaign for the institute. Additionally, aMDI is working with faculty and staff to develop new medical devices to be tested at the institute.

Since the institute is new, the main focus for the institute as of now is on meeting demand and getting the necessary work done for the community's needs, Nowak said. The institute currently provides services to local hospitals, manufacturers and a variety of community organizations.

Cody Rash, a junior biomedical sciences major at GVSU, currently works at aMDI testing out some of the new devices and working with prototypes to look at battery life and testing capabilities.

Though Rash just started his position with the institute, the amount of hands-on experience he has already gained is invaluable to his future professional goals.

"I've gotten a lot of great background knowledge as a BMS major," Rash said. "I get to see what goes on behind the scenes in a way that I wouldn't have been able to before."

Another important element of the institute is its commitment to the student population and the needs of GVSU and its community members, Nowak said.

"We're one of the first of our kind," Rash said. "We are a good resource for students who want more information and personal experience in the field."

In the future, aMDI hopes to grow in size and involve more professional and interested players in the process of creating medical advancements and experiments.

"In a couple more years we're going to be bigger with what and who we distribute to," Rash said. "I can't wait to see how we can help the community and where we can go." 

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