Darlene Rishel was looking for a way to do something different for her final project as a Surgical Technology student at LCCC.
What she found was a way to combine science, technology and art for a result that not only earned her an ‘A’, but helped her gain a better understanding of the surgical technology specialty she eventually hopes to be working in.

Darlene Rishel

Not wanting to do a PowerPoint or poster board presentation for her final, Rishel searched the college’s website and found the Fab Lab where she could create a 3D project.

“I thought it would be cool to do something in the fab lab and when I got to choose my project my favorite surgeries are in the cardiothoracic area,” she said. “And I decided to do my own 3D model of a heart.”

What she came up with illustrates a heart bypass surgery. “It’s an amazing surgery,” Rishel said.

The heart model she created shows the parts of the heart along with the vein grafts that bypass the clogs in the arteries. The veins used in the bypass are harvested from the patient’s leg or chest.

The heart model was created on the 3D printer in the LCCC Fab Lab in the Campana Center for Ideation and Invention. It took about four hours to print, she noted. She then had to accurately paint it and number the parts of the heart and label them on the key on the base of the model.

“It was fun. It was art meets science and technology,” she noted.

When Rishel walked into the Fab Lab she said she was “clueless” on how to proceed but the staff helped her through the process. She completed the heart model several weeks ago so she had plenty of time to design and create it.

“Creating the model helped me learn the parts of the heart more completely,” Rishel said.

Senior students get to choose the topic for their final project and it’s based on an aspect of surgery that is of interest to them, said Timothy P. Teets, CST, BS, instructor and director of the LCCC Surgical Technology program. Faculty must approve the project before students move forward.

“When Darlene first said she would like to use the Fab Lab for her project and create a model demonstrating a CABG, we we’re excited to see how this would turn out,” Teets said. “The results were fabulous and very impressive.”

In the field of surgery there are a number of procedures that use 3D printing to create models used during the operation, especially in coordination with implantable devices, he noted, so it’s good to see students utilizing other areas of the college in coordination with surgical technology.

“It is great that LCCC offers this technology and our students have the ability to get some great experience in advanced roles of our field,” Teets said.

After graduation Rishel will start a new job as a surgical technologist at Fairview Hospital. Her goal is to eventually work her way on to the cardiothoracic team as a surgical technologist.

She recently completed her Certified Surgical Technology (CST) exam and is awaiting the results.

Rishel, who lives in North Ridgeville with her husband and two teenage daughters, had worked in an office job for nine years but liked the thought of taking care of people.

She started as an STNA through the LCCC program and said it was very rewarding helping people. From there she took her time in deciding just which health care path to follow.

“I took the scenic route to this degree,” she laughed. “I can’t wait to get started. I’m ready.”