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Sophisticated Devices Enhance Simulation Experience

The Simulation Technology and Immersive Learning Center’s (STIL) Latin motto Exerce ut Facis translates to “Practice by Doing.” This is enabled and enhanced by today’s state-of-the-art devices, called hi-fidelity simulators, which allow students to check blood pressure, pulse rates and oxygenation, practice CPR/defibrillation, childbirth scenarios, and chest tube insertion, as well as see realistic physical reactions during simulations to make learners forget they are working on a “body” essentially made of rubber, plastic and electronics.

With the help of special effects skin and makeup, and things like lima beans to replicate lumps, designers can create body parts and abnormalities that look and feel very realistic and can add to the learning experience.

One hallmark of the Northwestern simulation program is the ability to build new devices or modify off-the-shelf models to enable students to practice even more sophisticated skills than were previously possible. Students from the McCormick School of Engineering are employed by the Center and have created paracentesis and thoracentesis models, for example, for instruction on fluid removal from body cavities. In addition, Dr. Carla Pugh has successfully worked with engineers to develop models for breast cancer detection, incorporating sensors to ensure learners are doing proper physical examinations to find abnormalities.

The Innovations Lab, which is located across the hall from the STIL, has ties to the McCormick School of Engineering, which is offering one undergraduate and two master’s-level courses on building new biomedical and enhanced simulation devices.