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N.C. A&T hosts bioengineering workshop for students

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GREENSBORO -- High school students from around the Triad, the city of Durham and one from Tennessee explored the possibilities of improving the quality of life through bioengineering at a week-long series of workshops in Greensboro.

North Carolina A&T State University hosted its second Bioengineering Institute in collaboration with the University of Pittsburgh's department of biomedical engineering.

"We worked with mouse muscle cells, C2C12,” said Ashley McLaughlin, a student at Reidsville High School. "We learned all about how we have to add growth factor and you can kind of tell those stem cells what they're going to become."

McLaughlin and the other students plunged head first into the world of bioengineering.

"Bioengineering is an effort that has several names,” said Dr. Cindy Waters, a professor of mechanical engineering. “We talk about tissue engineering, regenerative medicine, trying to take systems in the human body, recreate those outside of the human body for re-implantation or it's just time to repair problems that happen."

This was new ground for these students.

"Such as like the scaffolds and they kind of shape the stem cells, which is a really big part of what we've learned," said Regine Harris, a student at McMichael High School in Mayodan.

They learned about cutting-edge science that has the potential to transform the quality of life for millions of people.

"We know that once you reach a certain age your joints start to get stiff, your skin loses elasticity, your bones become more brittle,” said Waters. “So, regenerative medicine and bioengineering is really trying to improve on those systems and many say slow the course of time."

The possibilities were not lost on student Marquis Bennett.

"When people get all these diseases like lung cancer, whatever, and when they have problems with their kidneys they can make a scaffold put the cells on it and it will grow,” said Bennett, a student at Smith High School in Greensboro. “So, they can just put it right in there and live a normal life like everyone else."

There was a lot of learning going on, to be sure, but for some, the week of workshops may well have sparked a career choice.

"I'm glad to be learning about this stuff,” said Marshall Brown, a student at Page High School in Greensboro. “I actually think I may want to go into this kind of field when I go to college."

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