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Simulations, Virtual Cadavers at North Central College Facility

A new $20 million, 40,000 square-foot facility in Naperville, Ill. has large touchscreens, simulated rooms, ultrasound devices and other high-tech equipment for medical and engineering students.

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North Central College
(TNS) — Simulated hospital/medical rooms, virtual cadavers and high-tech engineering equipment are among the new features found at North Central College’s new Dr. Myron Wentz Center for Health Sciences and Engineering.

The $20 million, 40,000 square-foot facility on East Chicago Street will open avenues of study for NCC students and real hands-on experience, officials said.

“Having a specific building to provide inter-professional opportunities is unique,” said Cilla Prato, an occupational therapy student. “The fact Naperville and North Central College has that now is going to be a great tool for future students.”

Three of the building’s four floors focus on the health care occupations, allowing the school to introduce or expand its occupational therapy, physician assistant and physical therapy programs.

Anatomage tables in the skills lab, for example, look like large touchscreen tablets and create virtual cadavers that allow users to examine bodies in greater detail and do virtual dissections. The images can be broadcast to the front of the classroom.

“They are shown to actually be better for teaching anatomy and physiology than a traditional cadaver,” said Marci Swede, dean of the School of Education and Health Sciences. “These are phenomenal tables that have four different humans that have had CT scans sliced through them.”

In some of the center’s simulation rooms, students can interact with mannequins, or “manikins,” which can be programmed with different health conditions or emergencies and can even talk. With one-way mirrors in some of the simulated medical facilities — which include hospital, labor and delivery room, trauma and patient exam rooms — instructors can observe students as they interact with their “patients.”

The occupational therapy lab also has simulated rooms, including a kitchen, bedroom and bathroom, so students can practice working with patients in places where they would normally interact with them.

Prato said for students, the new space is invaluable, especially compared to cramped quarters they had been using in the Wentz Science Center.

“Here our new (occupational therapy) lab is much more open. It has more space for us to have equipment, more space for us to be trained and more opportunities for simulation, which is phenomenal,” Prato said.

Technology upgrades also include such things as handheld ultrasound devices that connect to phones and tablets via Bluetooth. College officials say it is one of the few schools in the country using this type of equipment.

The first floor of the new building is for North Central’s engineering program, which started in 2017. The 6,000 square feet includes a large manufacturing processes lab.

Stephen Maynard Caliendo, dean of the college of arts and sciences, said North Central’s senior-year engineering students will be the first to have access to the lab and equipment. That includes or will include high-precision lasers for cutting metals and non-metals, a 3D printer, two computerized numerical control (CNC) milling machines, a CNC lathe and a 3-ton bridge crane.

“The plan all along was by the time they became seniors, this space would be ready for them — and here we are,” Caliendo said.

Beyond the room dedicated to specific programs, the new building also has gender-inclusive bathrooms, accessibility for people with different needs, full kitchens and kitchenettes, and study space for collaboration and independent study.

Its location makes the building feel like part of the community, college President Troy Hammond said. The building’s west side overlooks downtown Naperville, and its location is close to several potential employers, like Edward Hospital.

“Our ( North Central College) signage on this building right by downtown is a wonderful way to communicate to the city we are here, we’re part of Naperville and we’re developing the graduates that Naperville and the region around us need for the future in health sciences and engineering,” Hammond said.

©2021 the Naperville Sun (Naperville, Ill.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.