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MedTech STEM Program Taps Diverse Students to Redesign Medical Devices

From inhaler watches to redesigned crutches: How a unique summer program in Birmingham is pushing boundaries in STEM education.

The podcast cover image for The Future in Context (TFIC) episode exploring a MedTech program that brings together diverse students with engineers and other instructors to innovate medical prototypes, with a focus on real-world problems.
Listen to this episode on the player below or subscribe for free on YouTube or the podcast app of your choice — Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Audacy and Audible.

This episode of TFIC explores the MedTech Device Experience program in Birmingham, Ala., and previews an upcoming documentary on how the unique summer program is pushing boundaries in STEM education for high school students from diverse backgrounds. The program’s director, Mark Conner, discusses how the program introduces students to design methodology for developing medical devices that solve real problems.


Here are the top 10 takeaways from this episode:

  1. Deep Dive into Prototyping: The MedTech Design Experience brings together students from varied backgrounds who are paired with expert instructors for hands-on training in prototyping advanced medical devices during a two-week summer program in Birmingham.
  2. Applied Innovation: Students are challenged to innovate medical prototypes that address real-world problems.
  3. Academic Inspiration: Collaboration with the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) inspired the program; students are taught to visualize ideas and apply new information effectively.
  4. Imagining the Future, and Then Building It: Graduates came away with a better sense of the transformative nature of MedTech and their potential role in it, widening their future aspirations.
  5. Real-World Solutions: The program produced innovative designs like an inhaler watch. Another group redesigned crutch prototypes for better stair navigation, showcasing problem-solving using technology.
  6. Engaging Professionals: The program director stresses the importance of industry professional involvement and real-world application in the program’s success.
  7. Getting the Right Mix: It and similar programs require buy-in from leadership and professionals, as well as opportunities for hands-on experience.
  8. Place Matters: The program was hosted in Hardware Park — a hub for engineering, innovation, product development, and manufacturing in downtown Birmingham — that carries forward an industrial vibe and a blue collar attitude for getting things done.
  9. Moving Forward: Future plans involve expanding the program from its base — collaborating with more schools, and partnering with Birmingham’s tech hubs.
  10. The MedTech Experience Documentary: Cameras were rolling as the students learned during the two-week program. The documentary’s premiere and watch party is scheduled for Nov. 7 at Hardware Park.

Related Link to the story referenced in the episode:

Our editors used ChatGPT 4.0 to summarize the episode in bullet form to help create the show notes. The main image for this story was created using DALL-E 3.
Paul W. Taylor is the Senior Editor for e.Republic Editorial and of its flagship titles - Governing and Government Technology. He can be reached at or on Twitter at @pwtaylor.
Ashley Silver is the co-host of The Future in Context podcast and a staff writer with Governing’s sister publication, Government Technology.
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