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UT Arlington Libraries deliver healthcare learning, mobile FabLab to young hospital patients

A new partnership between The University of Texas at Arlington Libraries and Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth will mean new high-tech healthcare learning opportunities for pediatric patients.

Thanks to an Emerging Technology Award from the National Network of Libraries of Medicine South Central Region, UTA Libraries will be able to help children and their families explore health conditions and treatments using 3-D printers, 3-D scanners and microelectronics. 

The effort combines the University’s emphasis on health and the human condition with technologies in the UT Arlington FabLab and the library’s long-standing focus on providing literacy information opportunities to K-12 students. 

“Since it started, the UTA FabLab has given students access to emerging technologies like 3-D printers and scanners, laser cutters and virtual reality systems,” UT Arlington Dean of Libraries Rebecca Bichel said.

“Because of the grant, we are now able to share these tools with a wider audience and show families how these technologies can make a difference in their lives.”

Beginning this fall, UTA Libraries’ personnel will bring a mobile version of the FabLab to patients at Cook’s day camps and support groups.

Planned activities include having children create an electronic heartbeat sensor to monitor their heart rate, translate the brain’s electrical impulses to the movement of a mouse pointer and print 3-D models of DNA strands or organs to help illustrate their condition.

Jill Koss, director of family support services at Cook’s, is eager to see what else can be done with the technology and feels that the partnership with UTA Libraries is opening a door to new possibilities.

“We want to explore 3-D options for bereavement support and diagnosis,” Coss said. “I’m excited about seeing it firsthand.”

For Peace Ossom Williamson, UT Arlington health sciences librarian and interim FabLab co-manager, the goal is to empower children and their caregivers in making health decisions and developing long-term involvement in their own care.

“We also want to give them a positive experience in the hospital and show them what resources are available in the management of their condition,” Williamson said.

Visit http://fablab.uta.edu for more information about the FabLab.

-- Written by Evelyn Barker

About the UT Arlington Libraries

Supporting The University of Texas at Arlington and the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan region, UT Arlington Libraries create transformational learning experiences by connecting people to first-class resources, empowering knowledge creation, exploring ideas and pursuing innovations in learning. The UTA FabLab offers all students access to cutting-edge technology for research in digital fabrication and data visualization. UTA Libraries Special Collections focuses on the history of Texas, Mexico and the Southwest, and includes one of the finest cartography collections on Texas and the Gulf of Mexico in the world. The Libraries recently completed an $800,000 cold storage preservation vault for its collection of approximately 5 million photographic negatives. To learn more about UTA Libraries, please visit http://library.uta.edu.

About The University of Texas at Arlington

The University of Texas at Arlington is a comprehensive research institution of more than 51,000 students in campus-based and online degree programs and is the second largest institution in The University of Texas System. The Chronicle of Higher Education ranked UT Arlington as one of the 20 fastest-growing public research universities in the nation in 2014. U.S. News & World Report ranks UT Arlington fifth in the nation for undergraduate diversity. The University is a Hispanic-Serving Institution and is ranked as a “Best for Vets” college by Military Times magazine. Visit www.uta.edu to learn more, and find UT Arlington rankings and recognition at www.uta.edu/uta/about/rankings.php.

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The University of Texas at Arlington is an Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action employer.