“We realized there was nothing in medical robotics, and especially for the undergrad level that we could go directly and buy.” However, for his research, Dr. Sirouspour had a working relationship with the innovative engineers at Quanser. He was convinced they were the right people to create custom devices for his lab. Quanser “always gives us the flexibility of going and talking to them. We have some ideas and they have their own ideas and so we have this ability to collaborate and cooperate and always come up with something that is useful for the students.” Together Dr. Sirouspour and several leading Quanser engineers traded ideas and co-invented a unique lab for this unique course.
Using existing Quanser software and hardware components, new medical robotics experiments were made accessible for undergrads. “QPA, the power amplifier and the data acquisition boards, they were already there,” Dr. Sirouspour matter-of-factly explains. “The hardware was actually a modification of an existing device – the twin pantograph to a single pantograph and we had to add some other extra components to it. So it was some customization of the hardware and the robot itself.” Still, with the existing devices and goodwill between partners, what many thought was prohibitively expensive became eminently doable.
Speaking of willing partners, Quanser helped compose the curriculum for the experiments –a service they provide their college and university clients around the world. When they first learned of McMaster’s Medical Robotics course, the engineers at Quanser were eager to be involved. Like many teaching and researching professors, Dr. Sirouspour likes the idea of purchasing experiments that come with curriculum. “It can save a lot of time for somebody who is developing a new course.”