Senior Parker Tyler is collaborating on the development of an athletic tape that could deliver ibuprofen through the skin.
Feb. 19, 2013
Many college students focus first on getting a degree, and then figure out what to do with. Utah's senior Nordic skier Parker Tyler has chosen to shape her own future by keeping an eye on the future of healthcare. As most of her peers began to apply for summer jobs or internships, Tyler was applying for a patent.
The Biomedical Engineering major is collaborating on the development of an athletic tape that could deliver ibuprofen through the skin. And somehow she's found the time to claim a spot in the top 10 seven times over her career.
"We developed this idea and then we worked with the TechVenture Series, where you start out with all of these big competitions like TechTitans, OpportunityQuest and Utah Entrepreneur Series where people from all over Utah submit their ideas," Tyler said. "We finished third in Opportunity Quest and that was great for our idea. The goal is to go from patent, which we filed two years ago, to meeting people in the industry who will be able to develop our medical device."
Tyler's inspiration for the idea was fostered through coursework taken early during her academic career at Utah.
"There's a class that you take during your sophomore year where you join a program called `Invent'," Tyler said "You have a whole semester to identify a problem, which can be anything in medicine, and come up with a solution that could possibly spark an idea for a medical device or invention. My partner for the project and I started looking at needs in sports medicine."
This could just be the beginning of Tyler's impact on the world through medical innovation.
"My future will be in developing and inventing medical devices," Tyler said. "It's really interesting. My interest was sparked when I did a bio-immersion program this summer, where I got to work with laparoscopic surgeons at the university. I was able to go into the operating room and watch them perform surgery and try to come up with ways to improve the surgery and the overall procedure. Going through the whole process of identifying a need and coming up with a solution was fun. Hopefully, someday I will be doing research here at the University to help people who are affected by debilitating diseases."
"You have to work really hard at both skiing and Biomedical Engineering," Tyler said. "In skiing, you have to train really hard and be independent, the coaches and team expect that you are training as hard as you can even when there is no team training."
"Engineering is the same way. You have to put yourself out there to do the homework and the studies as well as the extra research --- I also work in a research lab for Dr. Robert Hitchcock, a biomedical engineering professor at the University of Utah. The desire to learn is what inspires me because it's really interesting to be in the field where you have to identify problems and design medical devices or solutions to fix them."
Nearing the end of her final season of eligibility on Utah's Nordic ski team in 2013, Tyler has finished on the podium twice and been among the top 10 in seven races through her career.
"I don't really see myself doing anything much more difficult in my career than skiing and being an engineering student at Utah," Tyler said. "The past four years have definitely been a challenge. I have learned how to manage my time and work with people all while balancing school, skiing and the research I do."
Whatever she chooses to do with her career, Tyler's continuing desire for knowledge will no doubt represent the University of Utah long after she is done skiing for the Utes.