SHI Blog

Think. Create. Innovate.

“Innovations are a priority in the Biomedical Technology program”

Community relationships and partnerships have always been an important aspect of Spectrum Health Innovations (SHI). SHI works closely with high school students interested in health care. The Health Sciences Early College Academy is one example of SHI’s partnerships with Kent ISD.

The Health Sciences Early College Academy is a program designed for high school juniors and seniors to gain real life experience in a clinical setting while attaining free college credit. Currently, SHI is working with students from the Biomedical Technology program at GVSU’s Cook-Devos Center on a project called the “Peapod”. “Peapod” is a collapsible chair that is designed to support the neck and torso of someone with cerebral palsy while seated at a restaurant.

Earlier this year in January, Kent ISD students Matt Schupe, Madelyn Schrot, and Anna Morrin on the Biomedical Technology team attended the regional HOSA (Health Occupations Students of American) Competition presenting their cerebral palsy restaurant seating device, “Peapod”. The idea originally came from Matt’s sister who has cerebral palsy. Matt calls it “a one of a kind design”. With limited motor skills and strength to sit up at the table, his sister found it difficult to eat with her family while at a restaurant. Having the problem hit so close to home is what really helped the team understand the problem at hand. From there, the team created a prototype that will be able to solve not only his sister’s problems, but many others who have cerebral palsy.


Matt Schupe showing off their pitch presentation
Matt Schupe showing off their pitch presentation

Russ Wallsteadt, Health Science Academy instructor, describes why collaborating with local expertise such as SHI has benefited his program and students:

“Our partnership with Spectrum Health Innovations has been wonderful for our students. Innovations are a priority in the Biomedical Technology program. The chance to work shoulder to shoulder with a nurse and biomedical engineer has inspired students to invent new tools and processes to benefit patients. It’s also been an advantage to have our competitive Biomedical Technology team coached by Spectrum. Their coaching has definitely inspired the students and sparked their creativity.”

To help the students further the device for competition, Mike Czechowskyj, MSN, RN, PCCN, CNML, clinical innovation specialist and Eric Van Middendorp, MSE, biomedical engineer, were able to aid students before they attended their first competition. Mike and Eric coached the students on areas such as design, speaking skills, materials to use, and learning to communicate how the device worked. Through this support, the students were able to win a first place gold medal at the regional competition in Kalamazoo, Michigan.


From the left Matt Schupe, Madelyn Schrot, and Anna Morrin
From the left Matt Schupe, Madelyn Schrot, and Anna Morrin

What’s next?

Winning first place has allowed the students to advance to the statewide HOSA Competition in Traverse City, Michigan on April 26th.  Along with 2,000 other students from Michigan, the student team will try to compete for a chance at a spot in the top three. If the students make it to a top spot, they will advance to the national competition which has never been done before. With Spectrum Health Innovation’s help, the students hope to do just that! For the state competition, Mike and Eric will help with refining the prototype similar to what the actual product might look like, as well as continuing to coach them on their pitching skills.

“It has been great working with the students as they prepare for the HOSA Competitions. Being able to help young kids learn about both the clinical and engineering side of the process is always a rewarding experience for us. Our support has really helped the students succeed”, says Eric Van Middendorp.


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written by Felicia Rowley