Student Robotics Team Members Get to Test Drive Franciscan St. Anthony Health’s da Vinci Robot

By: Franciscan Health Last Updated: May 16, 2012

Fresh from a successful showing in international competition, the first-year Michigan City Wild Wild Wolves 3936 student robotics team was rewarded with a visit to Franciscan St. Anthony Health-Michigan City on May 10, during which members received a hands-on lesson in operation of the da Vinci Si Surgical System robot.

Kurt Klepsch, a representative of California-based Intuitive Surgical Inc., which manufactures the robot, explained and demonstrated its functions to seven team members who were among those who recently competed among 600 teams from 32 countries in a For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology International Championship event in St. Louis. Their entry was called Firehawk. The team earned the right to compete there after earning an All-Star Rookie Team Award in previous competition.


Dr. Lisa Hendricks, who has performed more than 200 da Vinci procedures, told the students of her da Vinci experiences and training and answered questions. Franciscan St. Anthony Health-Michigan City acquired the robot in 2010.

Team members Justin Szaday, a home-schooled high school senior, along with his sister, Jenna, a seventh grader; Megan Ludwig, a freshman at Michigan City High School; along with classmates Shaylah Barron and Matthew Pawlicke; sophomore Josh Sookradge and senior David Higginbotham, each received a turn manipulating the da Vinci on a simulator device. Other team members, who were not on hand, attend Westville and Marquette high schools.

da Vinci consists of a robotic platform designed to enable performance of complex surgery, using a minimally invasive approach that allows for increased efficiency and faster patient recovery. da Vinci enables surgeons to perform even the most complex and delicate procedures through tiny incisions, with unmatched precision, according to the manufacturer.

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