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The University of Southampton
University of Southampton Malaysia

Alumni Weldon Wong and Krystal Yap share their experience of total knee replacement surgery

Published: 6 January 2020
Weldon Wong and Krystal Yap
Weldon Wong and Krystal Yap

Recent graduates Weldon Wong and Krystal Yap discuss why they chose the Biomedical pathway to their MEng Mechanical Engineering Degree.

Making a difference is a common theme for both Weldon and Krystal when they discuss their motivations for pursuing the biomedical pathway. The freedom to innovate and understand how implants will interact with the human body also attracted and inspired the students in their final two years of study at the University of Southampton Malaysia.

Speaking of his choice Weldon explains “At year two my initial choice was mechatronics, but after talking to lecturers and gaining a brief exposure to biomedical engineering I decided to challenge myself and take the biomedical route, despite not taking any biology subjects during high school and A-levels.”

Helping people was the main motivation for Krystal, “I have a lot of medical friends who would tell me stories about cases they faced in the hospital, and after hearing them, it really made me want to make a difference in people's lives. And through biomedical engineering, it gives me the opportunity to do so by either designing better implants or even coming up with new ways of aiding doctors to diagnose patients.”

The option to see knee surgery has been part of the biomedical pathway course for a number of years. Professor Martin Browne, Professor of Applied Biomaterials, explains “Biomaterials students usually have the option to see knee replacement surgery, although if I have a group design project in the fourth year, the type of surgery they see can vary according to the project. For example, in the past, we’ve arranged for students to view hip replacements, knee replacements and even Ilizarov surgery, a procedure that involves fixing an external metallic frame around the leg to lengthen and reshape the bone or to treat complex bone fractures.”

Witnessing live surgery was very different from watching videos, attending lecturers or watching TV dramas explains Weldon “The surgeon was calm and focused, listening to his own playlist to ease the tension. He seemed as though he was just fixing a robot - drilling, slicing, hammering, measuring and connecting the parts together.”

One of the many benefits students gain from attending a surgical procedure is being able to view the bigger picture and consolidate learning across a number of modules. Being able to talk to a surgeon and see surgery, implants and devices from their perspective rather than just an engineering point of view gives students a wider awareness of issues surrounding this biomedical engineering.

“It really helped my understanding of the things we have learned about implants and you could also see the difficulties faced by surgeons as they are performing the surgery and how they overcome them.” Explains Krystal. “It gives you ideas on how to further improve and innovate the current devices that they are using to further aid the surgery process.”

The Biomedical pathway is one of the options available for our MEng Mechanical Engineering students. The first 2 years of this specialist course follow the same content to our degree in Mechanical Engineering. In the third and fourth years, students can focus on topics such as Orthopaedic Biomechanics, and Biomedical Implants and Devices.

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