Tomas Hirmer - SSP09 and MSS10

hirmer tIn 2009, I participated in ISU's Space Studies Program (SSP09), hosted by the NASA Ames Research Center in California. This was an incredible experience where I met inspiring people from around the world. Additionally, the Space Life Sciences Department activities, in particular the hands-on workshop with surgical robotics, helped motivate my future research interests. After completing the SSP09, I continued on to the ISU Master of Space Studies Program, with an internship at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) near Munich, where I researched virtual reality simulation for minimally invasive robotic surgery with an emphasis on haptics and soft-tissue modeling.

Upon completing my ISU Master of Science in Space Studies Degree in 2010, I worked for MDA in Canada on the Next Generation Canadarm orbital robotics testbed, as well as on a robotic neurosurgery project. Then at the World Bank in Washington, DC, I was a project manager and technology consultant on international development projects. During this time, I was a member of a World Bank delegation to NASA to negotiate space agency collaborations. ISU's "3 Is" philosophy (Interdisciplinary, Intercultural, and International) prepared me well for these international and interdisciplinary experiences.

Presently, I am employed by a neurosurgeon as a robotics and software engineer for Project neuroArm, affiliated with the University of Calgary and the Foothills Medical Centre in Calgary, Alberta. Much of our research is centered around neuroArm, a neurosurgery robotics system currently in clinical use. In NeuroArm, space robotics technology, like that in the Canadarm, has been translated to the medical field for surgical procedures. For further information on this project, please see my video entitled "Translating Space Technology to the Operating Room" or visit the neuroArm website.

ISU fostered my interest in surgical robotics, international collaborations, and interdisciplinary projects, and has been instrumental in shaping my professional development.