Why we study biomechanics

Engineer - Biomechanics

Philip Czapka (29) already specialized in biomechanics while studying medical technology. Now the engineer works in applied research. He designs and tests so-called body-supported systems such as new prototypes of a prosthetic foot.

What Philip Czapka likes most about his job is the versatility: an estimated one third of his working time is spent in the laboratory, another third on business trips and the remaining working time on office work. “Project management is the be-all and end-all for me because so many projects are running in parallel. You have to be able to organize and coordinate well, ”explains the 29-year-old. Smaller projects only take a few months, and orders worth millions take several years. In addition to the basic knowledge of biomechanics, human biology and higher mathematics, you also need technical interest and a certain manual skill.

Philip Czapka has been a research assistant at the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation IPA in Stuttgart for about two years, where he works in the field of biomechatronic systems. He started here as a research assistant during his medical technology studies with a focus on biomechanics and construction.

Interdisciplinary team

“For example, we develop prototypes for industry. The aim is to get as close as possible to the human model with the prostheses, i.e. the artificial limbs. ”The interdisciplinary team in which Philip Czapka works is very helpful. His direct colleagues have degrees in disciplines such as mechanical engineering, physiotherapy, product development, sports science, medicine and game design.

After the analysis at the beginning of a new project, the team comes together for a creativity meeting in which various concepts are jointly developed. Then it goes to the elaboration. In his office, which he shares with several colleagues, the biomechanics engineer designs the new prototypes on the computer using CAD programs. Here he also prepares the test series, draws up hypotheses and sets goals. "I have to calculate what added value the new model should bring - for the patient or for the caring staff."

Tests with the industrial robot

Then Philip Czapka tests his theoretical considerations experimentally. In the movement laboratory, a test person wearing a prosthesis is provided with so-called markers on the body. With these markers, movements, for example when walking on level ground or climbing stairs, can be precisely recorded. The motion capture process known from cinematic special effects is used here. On the basis of this data, Philip Czapka then programs the six-axis industrial robot in the mechanics laboratory, which performs the same movements with the new prosthesis, which is connected at the front. The scientist evaluates the data measured on the computer and processes them. "The comprehensible technical documentation of the laboratory tests is also very important."

The medical technology engineer is also on the road a lot in his job. He goes to trade fairs, acquires new customers around the world and presents his scientific work at congresses, mostly in English. “The industry is known all over the world and I could also work abroad.” But Philip Czapka is not currently thinking about a change. Because he is still very enthusiastic about his work.