The Cutting Edge: Robots in the OR
When Shane Farritor was a boy, he liked to tinker and build things in the back of his family’s hardware store. Decades later he’s still at it, only now he’s building robots. Find out how a small-town kid grew up to be an engineer who founded a company that’s changing the way doctors do surgery.
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[00:00:03.600]Robots are part of our lives.
[00:00:06.730]They help build cars, dismantle explosives for the military,
they even vacuum the carpet.
[00:00:17.290]And robots have entered the operating room.
[00:00:20.389]We've got one of our devices, one of our
[00:00:22.810]prototypes here up and functioning.
[00:00:25.430]Shane Fereter is developing
[00:00:27.440]miniature robots for use in surgery.
[00:00:29.690]Robot has a couple of arms and tools.
[00:00:32.150]That are manipulated by the surgeon
[00:00:34.150]using joy sticks and foot pedals.
[00:00:36.116]And the surgeon uses the console here
[00:00:38.590]to control the device.
[00:00:40.590]The technology is moving into the operating room,
[00:00:43.816]and someday, to remote locations.
[00:00:46.315]Potentially talking about locations,
[00:00:48.540]this is all down the road.
[00:00:50.760]Or in space, right.
[00:00:54.170]I'm Mary Jane Bruce and this is Faculty 101
[00:00:57.460]from the University of Nebraska Lincoln.
[00:01:00.070](soft upbeat music)
Okay, youu should
[00:01:00.903]switch partners now.
To be able
[00:01:02.320]to inspire young people.
[00:01:04.800]Ace your finals.
It's really rewarding.
[00:01:06.920]I love the students.
[00:01:08.461]Welcome to Faculty 101, life hacks
[00:01:11.525]and success stories from Nebraska faculty.
[00:01:16.300]Time for orientation. Who is Shane Fereter?
[00:01:21.200]I'm a professor in mechanical and materials engineering.
[00:01:23.725]Dr. Fereter is founder of the startup company,
[00:01:26.186]Virtual Incision, along with Dmitri Alenacoff,
[00:01:29.629]a surgeon at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.
[00:01:33.230]This is our office space and here's our lab.
[00:01:35.790]The robotically assisted surgical device
[00:01:37.990]is being used in a procedure that removes part of the colon.
[00:01:41.208]There's about, depending on how you count them,
[00:01:43.050]maybe 300000 cases of colon cancer per year in the US.
[00:01:46.674]In any cancer or other diseases,
[00:01:49.830]you have to get a section of your colon removed
[00:01:51.560]and we think we can help enable
[00:01:53.430]a minimally invasive approach to colon resection.
[00:01:56.580]The technology will help avoid large incisions
[00:01:59.520]and long hospital stays for patients
[00:02:01.483]and offers other benefits for surgeons.
[00:02:04.106]You can scale the motion of the surgeon,
[00:02:06.530]if the surgeon moves their hands a lot,
[00:02:08.050]the robot can be very precise and move a little bit.
[00:02:10.904]They can remove tremor and other things like that,
[00:02:13.658]but it's about access, they can give the surgeon
[00:02:16.510]more dexterity than they would otherwise have.
[00:02:18.793]And one of the big advantages is allowing
[00:02:21.965]minimal invasive surgery, so rather than
[00:02:24.560]making a large incision big enough the surgeons can
[00:02:28.010]get their hands inside the patient,
[00:02:29.630]you can make a few small incisions
[00:02:31.100]and stick some little robot hands in there
[00:02:33.430]and do surgery that way.
[00:02:34.660]And making smaller incisions has
[00:02:36.920]obvious advantages to the patient.
[00:02:42.800]Next, lab work. We go deeper into Dr. Fereter's research.
[00:02:50.670]One wall of the Virtual Incision office
[00:02:53.060]is covered with plaques exhibiting some of the patents
[00:02:56.070]awarded for intellectual property based on research.
[00:02:59.350]Yeah, I think we have about 60 patents that have issued
[00:03:03.386]and maybe another 60 applications.
[00:03:05.640]Dr. Fereter's research is supported
[00:03:08.010]by the US Army and by NASA with an eye toward
[00:03:10.790]developing technology that would
[00:03:12.490]allow surgery in remote locations.
[00:03:16.349]So the idea is if you had a small, portable device
[00:03:19.180]in a remote, dangerous environment,
[00:03:24.610]that you could then have the surgeon in another location
[00:03:27.180]and perform surgery remotely.
[00:03:31.940]Years of research and effort
[00:03:33.690]have gone into Virtual Incision.
[00:03:35.600]Founding a medical device company brings complex challenges.
[00:03:39.127]With medical devices, you have to do really a lot of work
[00:03:42.280]before you can actually find out
[00:03:43.790]if it's what people really need.
[00:03:46.246]We try to talk to surgeons as much as we can.
[00:03:48.860]We try to understand the procedures
[00:03:51.110]and the pathologies that we need to address.
[00:03:53.370]We try to get it into as many hands as we can.
[00:03:56.146]So it's challenging. It's been tough.
[00:04:01.478]It's fun work. I won't lie.
[00:04:06.180]I like making robots and I get to
[00:04:08.460]do that everyday, so that's wonderful.
[00:04:13.660]Ready for office hours?
[00:04:15.040]Dr. Fereter explains how he got here.
[00:04:17.665]♪ Big dreams in a small town ♪
[00:04:22.597]I grew up in a very small town.
[00:04:24.570]Ravenna in Central Nebraska.
[00:04:26.350]The populations about 1300, I think, something like that.
[00:04:29.490]And his engineering career took shape
[00:04:31.530]in the back of the family hardware store.
[00:04:35.580]You know, we sold nuts and bolts to farmers
[00:04:37.890]and there were always problems to be solved
[00:04:41.330]and there were always creative solutions that were required.
[00:04:46.380]And I always talk about how Nebraskans
[00:04:48.530]are good at making things and good at solving problems,
[00:04:51.320]because the rural environment
[00:04:53.180]kind of makes that a necessity.
[00:04:55.200]His mom and dad's parenting style?
[00:04:57.670]My wife and I always joke a little bit.
[00:04:59.050]They left us alone. It was a great thing that they did.
[00:05:02.410]They kind of put some rails up,
[00:05:03.930]but when you're in a small town, you have a lot of freedom
[00:05:07.260]and I got to play around in the back of that hardware store
[00:05:11.286]and my parents might roll their eyes or something,
[00:05:13.560]but they let me build whatever wacky little product
[00:05:17.500]or device I wanted to make.
[00:05:19.477]Just talking to someone the other day
[00:05:22.130]about a fan car I made, a little car that has,
[00:05:24.877]I guess you'd call it a mobile robot these days,
[00:05:27.280]but you turn your fan on left to right
[00:05:29.520]with these little motors and you could drive it around,
[00:05:33.343]which I think is a great way to learn and explore,
[00:05:36.810]but my parents were good enough
[00:05:39.565]to let me do those kinds of things.
[00:05:45.100]Now it's time for a pop quiz, random questions,
[00:05:48.300]life hacks, and wisdom for all of us.
[00:05:52.390]What's a research question you'd still like to answer?
[00:05:55.290]We're diving hard into this, you know?
[00:05:57.190]Can small robots be effective?
[00:05:59.480]You think about there's millions, I believe,
[00:06:02.802]surgeries that are done with an open incision,
[00:06:05.070]again, where surgeons put their hand in there.
[00:06:07.220]You could consider that Stone Age like, right?
[00:06:10.680]But we should use robots to help with all those surgeries
[00:06:14.480]and I think there's a long ways to go there.
[00:06:16.769]What's the number one thing you can do
[00:06:18.570]to raise a child who's a creative thinker?
[00:06:20.930]There's a book I read called Grit that I really like.
[00:06:23.449]It's a psychologist is the author, from Stanford University,
[00:06:26.720]and she puts forth the idea that you have to
[00:06:30.080]encourage kids to put forth effort, that what you need
[00:06:35.642]to praise is not I am really proud of you,
[00:06:37.870]you got an A on that test, it's I really like the way
[00:06:41.130]you studied hard and you worked hard at this.
[00:06:43.860]And if you become a person who is willing
[00:06:48.940]to work through problems and is hungry for problems,
[00:06:51.589]if you tell a kid they're smart all the time,
[00:06:54.170]pretty soon they'll start avoiding hard things,
[00:06:57.860]because I'm the smart one, if I go in there and I fail,
[00:07:01.447]then that goes against my definition of myself.
[00:07:05.942]So you have to teach kids to be doers and triers.
[00:07:13.250]Do you have a habit that makes you
[00:07:14.590]happier or more productive?
[00:07:16.544]I'm a woodworker, so when I go home at night,
[00:07:20.750]I often go down to the shop for an hour
[00:07:22.420]and that seems to be good for my blood pressure.
[00:07:25.824]What's your favorite life hack for students?
[00:07:28.900]The things you need to be successful in college
[00:07:31.560]are all within your control.
[00:07:32.990]It doesn't matter how smart you are
[00:07:34.948]and you can't guarantee you're gonna
[00:07:39.130]get an A or a C on the test, but there are things
[00:07:41.580]that are totally in your control
[00:07:42.820]that will make you successful.
[00:07:44.470]The first one is go to class.
[00:07:46.044]If you're hemorrhaging blood or you're struck by a car
[00:07:49.609]or something, then maybe you have an excuse
[00:07:51.890]not to go to class, but other than that,
[00:07:54.080]I stayed up too late last night, it's really early,
[00:07:56.473]it's cold outside, those aren't reasons to skip class.
[00:07:58.918]There's no reason you can't go to class, go to class.
[00:08:01.201]You think you can skip class, don't skip class, go to class.
[00:08:04.460]That's the first one, the second one is
[00:08:07.003]start the homework the day it's assigned.
[00:08:09.994]You get assigned homework on Monday,
[00:08:12.153]you need to go home Monday night and do that homework.
[00:08:15.150]The third one is you should use office hours of professors.
[00:08:19.630]You should go in and talk to them
[00:08:20.960]about questions that you have.
[00:08:22.720]Do you have a life hack for success,
[00:08:25.770]so to speak, for the general public?
[00:08:27.550]You need to develop this growth mentality.
[00:08:29.880]You need to have some grit.
[00:08:31.443]Again, these are, like I was describing earlier with kids,
[00:08:35.990]I think the same thing works for adults.
[00:08:37.770]You need to engage problems not knowing
[00:08:41.590]what the answer will be.
[00:08:42.920]And I think those are perseverances really,
[00:08:47.140]the only thing that truly correlates with success,
[00:08:51.100]maybe luck, too, but it's usually not smarts
[00:08:53.990]and it's usually not looks and it's usually not
[00:08:55.770]some of the things that most people assign to these things.
[00:08:59.330]And finally, homework.
[00:09:01.040]Here's what you can do to exercise your creativity muscle.
[00:09:08.200]Dr. Fereter is an advisor for Nebraska Innovation Studio.
[00:09:12.210]It's a maker space where you can find
[00:09:14.300]sewing machines, 3D printers, laser cutters,
[00:09:17.150]all the tools for bringing your idea to life.
[00:09:22.670]And I think there's really a lot of satisfaction
[00:09:24.640]in building things that you get a lot of important feedback
[00:09:28.470]from trying and failing and it didn't work
[00:09:32.390]and I did it this time and then I pushed through the problem
[00:09:34.270]and here it is, I made something that's nice and useful.
[00:09:38.374]That's a stamp. That's a stake in the ground.
[00:09:40.840]You've made something now.
[00:09:43.379](soft upbeat music)
That's it for Faculty 101
[00:09:46.620]and thanks to Shane Fereter for sharing his wisdom.
[00:09:49.430]In the show notes, we linked to more information
[00:09:51.370]about Virtual Incision, Nebraska Innovation Studio,
[00:09:54.247]and to the book Grit that Dr. Fereter recommended.
[00:09:58.230]Next time on the podcast,
(marching band music)
[00:10:02.870]it's the pride of all Nebraska.
[00:10:05.380]We go behind the scenes with the faculty
[00:10:07.950]who lead the Corn Husker Marching Band.
[00:10:11.840]Oh, and don't forget...
[00:10:13.530]You think you can skip class,
[00:10:14.363]don't skip class, go to class.
[00:10:16.050]Faculty 101 is produced by the
[00:10:18.060]University of Nebraska Lincoln.
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