Worcester Polytechnic Institute's Rachel LeBlanc: 'We See Huge Opportunities For Partners In Health Care And Robotics'


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Worcester Polytechnic Institute's new Practice Point Center is aimed at helping universities, entrepreneurs and big companies work successfully with medical devices and robotics in medicine, according to Rachel LeBlanc, assistant vice president for academic and corporate engagement at Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

By combining robotics and health care, the center hopes to create better test beds and different forms of high tech that help point the way to more effective health care solutions.

"It allows them the opportunity to really get access to the equipment that they wouldn’t necessarily be able to purchase themselves," said LeBlanc, who spoke to CRNtv at the Robotica 2017 conference.

In doing this, LeBlanc says that her office at WPI is working hard to bridge the gap between what is happening in the industry and what is happening in academia.

"We’re really able to build new opportunities by having this combination," she said.

As an example, LeBlanc said prosthetic limb development can benefit from more companies using tools such as 3D printing for medical purposes. "In the future, we should be building prosthesis that are tailored to the flow and build of one’s body," said LeBlanc.

For partners, LeBlanc said there is an opportunity the fast-growing space of robotics, AI and IoT. "They are going to benefit big-time when it comes to efficiency," she said. "Not only can they do things more quickly, but companies can begin manufacturing right here within the United States without having to outsource the products."

LeBlanc explained that because of automation and 3D printing, solution providers have a lower gap to fill when it comes to transportation.

"Their point-to-point is much lower; they can get things faster, and ultimately become more competitive in the space," she said.

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