​This past July, students from across North America came to Toronto to attend the Da Vinci Engineering Enrichment Program, or (DEEP) Summer Academy, hosted by the University of Toronto. DEEP is part of the university's engineering outreach initiative.

Da Vinci Engineering Enrichment Program.jpgSix of those students ditched campfires, ghost stories and roasted marshmallows for robots, Lego and iDAPT in a crash course in bio-medical engineering at Toronto Rehab. This summer was the first time Toronto Rehab participated in the camp, offering students the chance to solve real problems engineers face every day. The students participate in lectures on campus, alongside their daily activities at Toronto Rehab.

"I like to build stuff and I knew this camp would be fun for me. Who else will be able to say they moved a robot with their mind this summer?" says Pablo Perreira-Lopez, who made the trip up from Philadelphia to participate.

Campers were assigned various problem solving activities. For example, how to help a patient with limited mobility get in and out of bed using a device made with Lego. Other activities involved being attached to electrodes and moving robots with simple hand movements.

Da Vinci Engineering Enrichment Program-Varun Ohri.jpgVarun Ohri, a U of T masters student in biomedical engineering working at Toronto Rehab, organized the camp this year and created the new rehab curriculum. He first volunteered with DEEP last year, and felt that Toronto Rehab could offer participants a unique perspective on biomedical engineering in the real world. It's an experience he wishes had been available when he was in high school.

Varun created the camp curriculum with the support of Dr. Geoff Fernie, Research Director at Toronto Rehab. He focused on ensuring students had a full, interactive experience, with tours and lectures that left the students with a strong sense of what a bio-medical career has to offer.

Dr. Fernie says it's important to get students excited about rehab because the field is growing. "We need talented people on the exciting road ahead. Rehab is about saving peoples lives and making it a life worth living."

- Jess Verhey

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