Biology and Technology Combine At Expo

Dec 01, 2016

Plant cells and moose antlers have more in common with high-tech research than you might think. Students at Florida Polytechnic University have certainly discovered as much.

The third annual Biology Integrated Outlook (Bio) Expo at Florida Poly featured many of these unlikely pairings as students in the core Biology classes presented their semester projects to the public. The expo showcases creative ways students apply their chosen majors to the life science. All told, there are 62 teams competing for eight awards.

“It’s exciting to jump right into my major. There are times it’s a little daunting because I’m still so new to this. But it’s helped build my confidence,” says James Rodriguez, a freshman from Winter Garden, Fla., pursuing a concentration in Cyber Security. He and his partner, Forrest Rock, were inspired to develop a game patterned after moose antlers.

For other students, the expo is a chance to explore their passions.

Sabrina Fenske of Coral Springs, Fla., has always loved space exploration and the expo was her first chance to try out her ideas in a university setting. Her project examined the feasibility of a computer program that can accurately simulate the environmental conditions on a planet, including gravity, presence of water and atmospheric conditions.

As freshman studying Computer Science, Sabrina didn’t expect to immediately get the chance to pursue her passion. But Florida Poly is different, she says.

“Not a lot of schools will let students start this kind of research in a general education class,” she says.

Most of the students were broken into pairs with complimentary majors. That was the case for freshmen Andrew Lopez and Daniel Brewer, who are studying Cyber Security and Cyber Gaming, respectively. Their project took on the challenge of providing advanced medical care for astronauts injured in space.

Right now, astronauts on the International Space Station are returned to Earth for medical treatment. But that won’t be an option for a long deep space journey to Mars. Andrew, of Brandon, Fla., and Daniel, of Birmingham, England, looked at the practicality of reproducing current robotic surgeons on a spacecraft. They took into consideration weight, energy and cost of the machine to create a detailed proposal for what a robotic surgeon would look like in space. Their finished model can be remotely controlled on earth or operated by an astronaut under instructions from Earth.

“It was a really fun project to work on,” Daniel says.