Angie Bryl Teaches at the University of Maryland

I hold a special place in my heart for the University of Maryland, College Park.  I’m a Terp-for-life, and graduated from Maryland with a bachelors degree in bioengineering in 2004 (my father and sister are also Maryland alum).  You can find my name on the grounds at College Park engraved at the ODK fountain on the mall, as well as on a brick outside of the Alumni Center.

So when I was approached last fall by Dr. Kiger, the Director of Undergraduate Studies at the Department of Mechanical Engineering at UMD, about teaching a brand new class on 3D printing and prosthetics to undergrads, I was beyond thrilled.

I got paired up with two insanely smart mechanical engineering Juniors, Saul and Anna, who know much more than I do about additive manufacturing (3D printing).  Together we designed the course from scratch.  We made it into a project based course, where the students’ main objective would be to creatively design a 3D printed prosthetic foot for a child and test its ability to withstand impact loading.  We would provide them with the background knowledge on prosthetic design and additive manufacturing throughout the semester, and they would work in teams to create, CAD, print, test, and refine their designs.

This class was held during the Spring 2018 semester.  Since I work normal hours at Dankmeyer during the day, we had to keep the class to evenings only.  Who wants to take a 3 hour class on Monday nights for 15 weeks?!?  But people did.  Not only did we fill our allotted class size of 20, but extended it to 3 more waitlisted students who were eager to get in.

And these students were bright.  They brought to the class their energy, eagerness to learn, creativity, and amazing computer aided design skills.  While most were engineering students, we had one majoring in art and another in political science, and a few were international students from study abroad programs, bringing together a variety of diverse talents and backgrounds.

As part of their final deliverable, each team produced a short video on their project, including their design process, testing, and lessons learned.  I was blown away with their work and want to share a couple of my favorite videos of theirs with you:

For a first-time class, it was a huge success overall.  There are certainly areas that we want to improve on for next time, and we are excited to announce that there WILL be a next time!  We are working on the revised content and are slated to return with version 2 of “Additive Manufacturing and Prosthetic Design” in Spring 2019.

Art Ross Returns to the Kinetic Sculpture Race

Art Ross, FabricationTechnician, contributes this story.

As reported last year, I enjoy volunteering for the American Visionary Art Museum’s Kinetic Sculpture Race.  This was the museum’s 20th such event.  It was my eighth year participating.

Kinetic Sculpture Racing began in Ferndale, California in 1969 when artist Hobart Brown upgraded his son’s tricycle into a 5-wheeled pentacycle and was challenged to a race down Main Street.  (Hobart did not win.)  Over the decades since, the California race evolved into a 3-day all-terrain Kinetic Grand Championship including treacherous sand dunes, water crossings, and elaborate sculptures and costumes.

The museum's entry - Babe the Blue Ox.

Oakland Mills High School's Messie Nessie.

For those who haven’t had the pleasure of catching this Baltimore madness, the “race” consists of a number of “sculptures”, mostly fabricated from bicycle parts and wild imaginations, that parade through downtown Baltimore with obstacles like a sandpit, a mud pit and a dip in the harbor.  Not all the entries rely on the trustworthy construction of a bicycle.  One of this year’s sculptures was made entirely of pool noodles and duct tape.  The pilots trekked the entire 14 miles by foot (and they swam a bit at the water obstacle).

The Trojan horse of pool noodles.

The Trojan horse of pool noodles.

The theme for this year’s race was Mysteries & Tall Tales.  I chose to enter the mysterious realm of steampunk for my traditional chicken costume.  My group, the flock of chickens, was in charge of engaging the crowd and tallying votes for the crowd favorite sculpture.  My patented method of engaging the crowd is to pass out DumDum suckers destroying the age-old parental proclamation of “Never take candy from a stranger”.  This year I handed out approximately 500 lollipops.

Here Art shows the progression of the fabrication of his costume.  Art is one of our very talented fabrication technicians, each of whom brings skill and imagination to every prosthesis or orthosis worked on.  

To see the sculptures in the race or for more information you can click here!

Sheryl Nathanson Sachs and Miracle 4 Melanie

When it comes to the field of Prosthetics & Orthotics, it seems that many of us have a unique story as to how we came to work in the field.  And I would like to share mine with you:

While I was a junior in college, trying to figure out a career path, I was leaning towards applying to physical therapy school, with the ultimate goal of working with the military.  I was lucky enough to attend school near Walter Reed Army Medical Center (WRAMC), and my roommate’s mother, Melanie Strudler, happened to volunteer in the physical therapy gym; at the time, she had been volunteering there for the past two years.  I was able to shadow her at WRAMC for a few days, and it was while I was there that I stumbled upon the world of prosthetics and orthotics.  I was lucky enough to volunteer in the prosthetics lab at Walter Reed, where my passion for the field grew, before ultimately going to prosthetics & orthotics school for my master’s degree.

Throughout our lives and our professions, we come across individuals who we can learn from, as much as they learn from us.  Melanie Strudler was one of those people.  I have her to thank for helping me find a career that I love.  However, Melanie was unable to see me get to where I am today.  Nine months into my residency at Dankmeyer, Melanie passed away from pancreatic cancer. She was a fighter to the end, and despite her treatments and struggles, her priority was still focused on giving back to the service members who had given up and done so much for our country. Melanie’s daughter, and my good friend, Erica, decided that the best way to continue her mother’s legacy was through the foundation of a non-profit in her honor—and thus, Miracle 4 Melanie, Inc. was born.

I have been involved with this non-profit organization since its foundation.  In continuing her legacy, Miracle 4 Melanie, Inc. raises funds to honor and support wounded service members and their families.  Our largest fundraiser is our Golf Outing, held in May; this upcoming May will be our 6th golfing fundraiser.  The main beneficiary of the funds we raise is a program open to service members and their families located just outside of the Atlanta, Georgia area.  While in graduate school at Georgia Tech, I was part of a group volunteering with Camp Twin Lakes, which helped develop the Family Warrior Weekends.  These weekends are free to the service-members and their families, and Miracle 4 Melanie helps sponsor four weekends each year.

I am thankful to be able to give back to such a worthy cause, while honoring an amazing woman to whom I owe helping me find this amazing field.  For more information on Miracle 4 Melanie, Inc., please visit their website by clicking here.  For more information on the Family Warrior Weekends, please visit their website by clicking here.  I wish to thank Matt Ryb Pictures for most of the photos in my story. I took the Camp Twin Lakes one myself! 

- Sheryl Nathanson Sachs, CPO

Mark Treasure Makes Music

Although I grew up working with my father, with clay, with plaster, pouring molds and vacuum forming plastic to make our own molds, my dad was also a musician and song writer.  Like my father, one of my lifelong hobbies is music. In fact, I once thought I was going to be a music teacher, prior to my career in O&P.   My wife, Linda, and I write music together and we share our music at various churches and events.  We also enjoy helping lead worship services.  For a majority of my life, one of my father's favorite questions was "Have you written any new songs lately?"  

Many years ago, after recording in a local studio and sending the demo to my dad, he loved the songs but thought we could do better with our own recording equipment. He made it possible for Linda and I to have our own recording studio with a major mobile component.  This has made it possible to record at various locations. A friend who played bass guitar and helped Linda and I at our larger venues is father to some very talented young men. I recorded them when they were small and a few years ago recorded and produced a CD of them.  They actually did very well with this CD - and by word of mouth, there are some others who wish to do a recording project. 

In addition to writing and sharing those songs on YouTube and at various churches and events, we have also had a few song contracts over the years with small music publishing companies. Although this is exciting, having a song contract with a publisher is only a first step, as the publisher works at connecting the song with an artist and record company.  In addition, there are other steps a song usually goes through before even being released.  

A few years ago there was an opportunity to use my recording skills to produce a very special CD. When a patient receives a prosthesis or orthosis at Dankmeyer there are written care and use instructions for that device. When the patient is blind the usual written instructions are not helpful. Since this person is able to operate a CD player the solution was obvious to me. I recorded the care and use instructions with an announcement of each track and its content. This way they could easily navigate through the instructions.  I knew this was a success when the person came back for the follow-up appointment and told me how helpful the recording was, and began telling me the instructions as they demonstrated donning and doffing the device, including how to clean each part.

Writing and sharing our music has always been a fun way for Linda and I to connect with people in various communities, and recording others is also fun and rewarding.

- Mark Treasure, CP, BOCO

Mary Reedy and Girl Scouts of the USA

Once a Girl Scout, always a Girl Scout.  This is how Mary Reedy, CP sees her role as a volunteer with the Girl Scouts of the Chesapeake Bay.  Growing up, she was active in her local Girl Scout troop.   She participated in fundraising through the famous Girl Scout Cookie Campaign, bake sales at the mall and selling calendars door to door.  The money raised helped her troop fund many great adventures over the years.

“I was blessed to have a very active troop and great female role models as leaders.   I didn’t realize and appreciate how much of an impact my Girl Scout experiences would have on me until later in life.”  Putting on plays such as “A Christmas Carol”, traveling to campsites all over the Tri-State area, organizing and implementing camps for over 300 scouts, which earned her the Silver Leadership Pin.   “I have fond memories and lasting friendships.  I knew I wanted to give back as an adult, especially if I had daughters.”

For the past 10 years, she has been able to complete her goal of volunteering with her daughters’ troops.   Camping on the beach, geocaching, hiking in local state parks,  and traveling to historic Savannah, Georgia (birthplace of Juliette Gordon Low, founder of the Girl Scouts) are just a few of the many adventures.   Click here to read about Low's home.

But those fun filled activities come with a price tag.   “All scouting activities and badges are financed through fundraising.  Our largest financial support is through the Girl Scout Cookie Campaign.”   Cookie sales have been a Girl Scout tradition for over 100 years.  You can read about Girl Scout cookies here.

Mary selling cookies with the troop.

For three months, the girls brave the snow, rain and cold weather selling door to door or standing outside local businesses, selling their famous products.   It is more than selling.  The girls are required to know their products, design table displays, and learn how to understand “supply and demand”, customer service techniques and money management.   There are even “secret shoppers” in the local Girl Scout Council, who check in on each troop during the selling season.  Every weekend you will find this Girl Scout Mom braving the elements to support the troop. 

“There are so many more opportunities for girls today than there were when I was a kid.  The girls just don’t sell cookies and make crafts.”  

Today the Girls Scouts offer a multitude of programs including:  STEM classes, leadership camps and spending a day at the Maryland General Assembly.    “It is about discovering each girl’s strengths and helping her find her place in this world.”  You can read more about Girl Scouts making a difference here.