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Using Robots to Help Surgeons Learn

Friday, Feb. 29, 2008

With a team at Johns Hopkins University, Carol Reiley ’05 builds optic computers that evaluate surgical technique in the operating room. Carol will earn her Ph.D. in 2010, specializing in surgical robotics at the Johns Hopkins’ Computational Interaction and Robotics Lab. Carol brings expertise in a range of fields—computers, robotics, and engineering—to research that will help medical students learn intricate and precise procedures.

It was Carol’s experience as an undergraduate mechanical engineering major at Santa Clara that led her to this specialty, particularly research in the robotics lab with Associate Professor Christopher Kitts. “Professor Kitts showed me this really interesting field, haptics—the sense of touch for robots,” she says. As a senior, Carol built a remote-operated robotic arm that gave the operator force feedback. She and her team created an arm that could allow users to tell the difference between the tactile force needed to pick up a rock and that needed to pick up an egg.

Carol says studying engineering at Santa Clara was ideal, because of the location. “Silicon Valley is right where everything is happening.”

She hopes to return to the area after earning her doctorate, and to pursue teaching. “Because of Professor Kitts, I understand what a good teacher is. Professors at Santa Clara care about their students; they changed my life. I want to give back.”

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