MSE Alum Uses 3D Printing to Create Patient-Specific Models
By Megan Andrew, MSE Communications Assistant
MSE alumnus Adam Wentworth (2011) is a senior engineer at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, where he utilizes his master’s degree in materials science and engineering (mse) to create patient-specific anatomic models and surgical guides. His position requires him to constantly draw on his expertise in 3D printing, a skill that he has been honing since his advising days at UConn. From designing guides to resect pelvic tumors, to molds enabling silicone casting of a face, Wentworth uses 3D printing to create innovative and individualized medical solutions.
Wentworth utilizes his passion and expertise in mse to develop cutting-edge solutions in the healthcare industry. Mayo Clinic is at the forefront of developing 3D printing infrastructure to battle modern health concerns from many angles. Wentworth serves on a team that combines surgery, biomedical engineering, and radiology to optimize surgical outcomes for patients.
Despite not being fond of biology, Wentworth became interested in biomaterials and the healthcare industry after taking ‘Introduction to Biomaterials’ with Professors Lakshmi S. Nair, Sangamesh G. Kumbar, and Yusuf Khan. “I was actually really excited for learning how biotechnology has advanced and learning more about applying the knowledge of materials to a specific set of applications. The class is a core reason I ended up at MIT and Mayo Clinic.”
After getting both his bachelor’s and master’s degree in materials science and engineering at UConn, and ably directing the MSE undergraduate Laboratory as its Manager for seven years, Wentworth worked for Brigham and Women’s Hospital and MIT before he began his current position at Mayo Clinic.
Along the way, Wentworth also co-founded Teal Bio Inc., a company designed to develop personal protective equipment (PPE) for healthcare workers in a sustainable way. Teal Bio Inc. was founded following research Wentworth completed alongside several other scientists that uncovered exactly how wasteful PPE in the healthcare industry can be. These studies illustrated that switching from one disposable respirator per day to a reusable respirator with disposable filters could lower waste produced by the healthcare industry over a six-month span from 37.22M kg to 15.73M kg.
That conclusion, combined with research about the use of transparent masks for emotional communication, led to the development of the Teal Bio Reusable Respirator, a transparent, reusable respirator with partially biodegradable filters.
Wentworth fondly recalls his experiences volunteering for UConn’s Engineering Diversity and Outreach Center (EDOC), which has now grown into the Vergnano Institute for Inclusion. This included helping with UConn SPARK, a summer residential program igniting the next generation of women engineers and scientists by shrinking the gender gap in the STEM field. That is “definitely a reason why I have been able to work at some incredible places,” because it gave him experience in “taking a leadership role through an opportunity, and then becoming known for your work in that particular area.”
Department head Bryan Huey notes, “MSE has always been incredibly fortunate to have devoted lab directors like Adam working closely with our students. They are critical to our department’s outreach, and advise many of our hands-on materials-centered clubs too. The amazing labs and lab curriculum we have today is a testament to all of their contributions along the way.”
Wentworth’s advice for current and incoming undergraduate students is to take advantage of those labs, and to get involved in extracurriculars they are passionate about. “After graduating, you will quickly value having spent your free time learning new skills,” he said. Whether it be 3D printing, or learning a new programming language, engaging with your passion early on is what gives you a leg-up after graduation, he said.
Wentworth was also involved in several other MSE-based organizations on campus. “UConn Materials Advantage (UCMA) allowed me to go to conferences and learn about research. I eventually became the advisor for the 3D Printing Club, which gave me a majority of the knowledge I have about 3D printing and provided many opportunities for professional development.”
Upon his enrollment at UConn, however, no one would have predicted Wentworth’s profuse success in the field of materials science and engineering. He actually entered school as a computer science major, realizing his passion for materials science and engineering after a seminar presented by then UConn MSE Professor Leon Shaw.
The message was that progress in materials science defines societal development. “It’s why we call it the bronze age, iron age, silicon age, etc. They encompass the world we live in, and understanding what they are and how we use them to benefit humanity provides a solid knowledge base for an understanding of many things,” he said.
So how did Wentworth get from first realizing his passion to becoming a highly accomplished engineer and scientist?
“Success happens by accumulated effort,” he said. His combined involvement in an assortment of productive extracurriculars gave him room to develop career-building skills in an interesting way.
Adam has one last piece of advice. Students should look up their dream job and learn what are the minimum and preferred qualifications. “Build your LinkedIn network, ask someone to review your resume, join a club. In an interview, show an example of your work. It will easily communicate your attention to detail, creativity, or some other skill that’s not easy to put into words. That’s how you can separate yourself from other applicants.” he said. Students should always ask themselves “what don’t you know?”