Florida Poly to host summer medical robotics camp

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Children love summer, and they love robots. Florida Polytechnic University is giving kids a way to enjoy both.

Starting Monday, the Lakeland-based university will host 12 high-school students in the Medical Engineering and Robotics Innovation for Tomorrow, also known as MERIT. Students chosen to attend the four-week summer course also attend All Saints Academy, Lake Wales and Barton High Schools.

Florida Poly, along with the Robotics Institute and the Center for Urology at Winter Haven Hospital developed MERIT, designed to give students an opportunity for hands-on experience with robotics. All Saints Academy is also a sponsor.

MERIT will help kids gain an understanding of how medical professionals use robots for high-tech medicine. Doctors now regularly use remote technology to diagnose patients and gain precise access to areas of the body during surgery.

The program will address a range of robot-related medical topics, including imaging, surgical robotics, radiation and pharmacotherapy. Doctors from the Center will also demonstrate various procedures, as well as the revolutionary da Vinci robotics platform, a leading technology in robotic surgery.

“Florida Poly is proud to be a partner is this venture, and this is a perfect example of how we plan to integrate ourselves in the community and offer high-tech programs,” says Provost Ghazi Darkazalli, in a statement.

“As we continue to grow,” Darkazalli adds, “we anticipate more student programs like this.”

The students will meet from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. twice a week, on Mondays and Thursdays. On June 17, MERIT students will get an inside look at a medical helicopter that will land on campus as part of a presentation.

Each participant will receive a Romo robot, a small smartphone-operated gadget to use on projects during the program. The devices are interactive, can take photos by remote control, and will be part of various assignments through the course. For the June 26 completion of MERIT, students will use the robot to make their final presentations.

During the four weeks of MERIT, organizers will post regular updates and photos on the Florida Poly Facebook Page

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.