November 2019
Jennifer Crusco
Communications Assistant

AHA Alumna Discusses the World of Biomedical Engineering

Demarest, NJ: Lisa Sesink-Clee, a 2013 graduate of the Academy of the Holy Angels, recently returned to her alma mater to share up-to-the-minute news about the world of biomedical engineering. Now a product development engineer for Stryker, this notable alumna spoke to students from Mrs. Jing Loo’s engineering class, detailing her work with joint replacement products.

Sesink-Clee grew up in Wyckoff, and attended the elementary school at Saint Elizabeth of Hungary Church. As a high school student, she enjoyed AHA’s anatomy and physiology class, which included discussions of new medical devices and their applications. At about the same time, Sesink-Clee’s father underwent a hip replacement, and her interest in biomedical engineering emerged.

During her years at Holy Angels, Sesink-Clee was involved in volleyball and track. Ultimately, the University of Pennsylvania recruited her for track, and she accepted the invitation. She received her bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering in 2017 and a master’s in mechanical engineering the following year.

Mrs. Loo’s class asked Sesink-Clee about the courses she took in college. The speaker explained that, at first, engineering students must complete introductory courses in calculus, biology, chemistry, and physics. Once she had successfully completed these classes, she progressed to specialized courses in areas such as tissue engineering.

Asked what element of her education set her apart from her peers, Sesink-Clee responded that participating in relevant internships helped her achieve her current success.

Her informative presentation included a discussion of her work in product development, specifically focusing on knee and hip replacement devices. Sesink-Clee noted that trauma, osteoarthritis, and cancer are three reasons people require joint replacements. Using a model of a human leg, she demonstrated how the knee functions, and allowed the class handle the type of artificial knee used by surgeons.

Sesink-Clee also covered the steps that lead to the launch of new products. This multi-year process includes gathering input from patients and surgeons, developing a concept, and designing and testing a model. She noted that her coworkers use computer aided design, CAD for short, to make their models. The extensive testing procedure, she added, allows product developers to see how and when products fail. In her discussion of manufacturing techniques, Sesink-Clee described a titanium implant that is 3-D printed with holes in it.

“Your bone grows into the implant,” she told the class, noting the importance of the holes in the device. “Your bone ‘thinks’ the implant is a break that needs to be healed.”

Fielding a question about the future of surgery, Sesink-Clee said that, in 20 years, she believes every surgery will be performed with a robot, and patients will receive 3-D printed custom implants. She presented a brief video about her company’s robotic arm assisted surgery device. She explained that surgeons use the robotic device to make very accurate incisions and plan where implants will be placed.

Sesink-Clee presented three fascinating case studies, one of which involved an extendable product designed to keep up with a child’s growth. She said the replacement “grows” through a gearbox and magnets that are surgically implanted in the patient.

From time to time, the patient returns to the doctor’s office for a brief visit. In a matter of minutes, the doctor creates a magnetic field in the area of the implant, thereby increasing the length of the implant in small increments to simulate bone growth.

Mrs. Loo and her class clearly enjoyed the lively and informative presentation, and asked several questions about Sesink-Clee’s education and career.

Founded by the School Sisters of Notre Dame in 1879, the Academy of the Holy Angels is the oldest private girls’ school in Bergen County. While AHA is steeped in Catholic tradition, this prestigious high school serves young women from a broad spectrum of cultural and religious backgrounds. Over time, thousands of women have passed through AHA’s portals. Many go on to study at some of the nation’s best universities, earning high-ranking positions in medicine, government, law, education, public service, business, arts, and athletics. The Academy’s current leaders continue to further the SSND mission to provide each student with the tools she needs to reach the fullness of her potential—spiritually, intellectually, socially, and physically, by offering a first-rate education in a nurturing environment where equal importance is placed on academic excellence, character development, moral integrity, and service to others.

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