December 07, 2021

Nadina Beethe was teaching middle school engineering courses when she attended a biofabrication seminar at a Century College Open House.  She already knew about 3D printing when she landed her teaching job, and had also done research on biofabrication, but was curious to know more about these career fields.

A Cutting-Edge Research Opportunity

Now, a few years later, Nadina is completing her Biofabrication Technologist Certificate at Century, and getting one-of-a-kind educational experiences at the College.  Thanks to an innovative partnership between the College and the University of Wisconsin, Nadina completed an internship working on a cancer research project with Dr. Timothy Lyden in River Falls, using 3D printing and biofabrication.

Last winter, Randy Jasken, Additive and Digital Manufacturing program faculty, suggested that Nadina work on Dr. Lyden’s project, to see if this was a career direction that she wanted to pursue.  She loved the laboratory work so much that she and fellow student Heather Hultgren, who had also started the internship in the spring, stayed on through the summer to continue their research. 

“The best part of the internship was that we would go home glowing when we had a successful bioprint. It takes a certain level of expertise to get things right because bioprinting is so new – there’s a lot of trial and error in getting the technique down,” says Nadina. “Working with the 3D printers is hard, and you’re following through with the science. We had to make sure we didn’t contaminate the cells with the printing. We were working on melanoma research. It was fascinating. The better we can understand tumors, the more researchers can find cures.”

Future Plans

Nadina loves research, and would love to combine teaching, and stay in the career world of academia. Nadina is also working on her Master’s in bioengineering, and will then start work on her Ph.D.  With a broad-ranging view of the future, and the possibilities that 3D printing will have in the biomedical domain, she is positioning herself to be a pioneer in her field.

“I’ve always wanted to be in career paths where you affect others’ lives—teaching was great.  And bioprinting will make a huge difference in terms of cancer research, and other kinds of medical research, as well. The implications of where we’re at now in the world versus where we will be in the future is astounding, and future generations will reap the benefits,” Nadina observes.

Today, thanks to Century College, Nadina has experience working in a cutting-edge technical field, and working on a pioneering research project as well.  “You have to have an aptitude, intellectual curiosity, and open mind to get into this field. There are so many applications and it’s ever-changing.  And I can’t say enough good things about Randy Jasken and Biology faculty Lori Thrun and  the classes at Century College–they are awesome.  Randy and Lori would experiment on 3D printers with students, and pass along relevant articles.  I’m so glad I had this invaluable experience at Century College.” 

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