An article published in the Post-Tribune, September 20, 2013
By Karen Caffarini, Post-Tribune correspondent
A trio of Purdue University Calumet students were instrumental in developing virtual designs and 3-D models that were used both to create space solutions for a local company and in a microbiology class curriculum.
The students — Lucas Phillips, 25, of Crown Point; Mike Wang, 23, of Hammond; and Don Lail, 26, of Hammond — are part of the Center for Innovation through Visualization and Simulation, a self-funded center that is located on the Hammond campus, but not supported financially by the university.
They worked in conjunction with specialists from Alverno Clinical Laboratories, CIVS staff and biology faculty to develop 3-D models and 3-D printed scaled plans to help Alverno technicians visualize the Hammond lab outfitted with its new equipment and determine the best way to redesign the lab with that equipment.
The equipment was installed recently as part of Alverno’s designation as the country’s first Siemens Microbiology Innovation Center.
The designation allows Alverno, which offers more than 750 clinical and anatomic pathology tests and processes more than 2,000 plated cultures a day, to offer Siemens’ full-range of advanced microbiology testing solutions. The large piece of new equipment, called WASP, Walk Away Specimen Processor, does automated testing at the lab.
CIVS spokeswoman Doreen Gonzalez-Gaboyan said the students’ job was to create a virtual lab.
“We worked with people at Alverno to build a unit in 3-D to scale so they could see where they wanted the parts to go,” Lucas said.
“We looked for the best flow and the best utilization of space,” Lucas said.
“Optimization is the key word,” Gonzalez-Gaboyan said.
The students also created a 3-D simulation model that allowed the Alverno technicians to walk through the virtual design and propose improvements.
Lucas said the same virtual models were used to produce a tour of the lab.
“It helps the average person understand what is this big building that does medical testing,” Lucas said.
A biology professor will introduce the 3-D model in her microbiology curriculum to increase student understanding of labs.
CIVS director, Chenn Zhou, said she was excited about this project, which is benefiting the students participating in CIVS, the biology department and Alverno.
“The local industry of Northwest Indiana is benefiting from simulation and visualization in many ways from design to optimization. The technology developed at CIVS will continue to be a fundamental driver for economic development in the region and beyond. It is also a key to student success through hands-on research experience,” Zhou said.
Gonzalez-Gaboyan said the students in CIVS have helped identify and solve problems at other major companies in the region, including the steel mills, BP, Northern Indiana Public Service Co. and the city of Hammond, with its roundabout.
NIPSCO spokesman Nick Meyer said the utility’s unique partnership with CIVS has proven to be a success.
“Simulation and visualization are very powerful tools that can help generate economic outcomes, allowing for continuous improvements in the environment and the communities we serve,” Meyer said.