CAR T- cell therapy, a cancer treatment, with a 90 percent success rate in treating blood cancers was the focus of Western Wayne students’ project for the Scientific Visualization category at the Technology Student Association Pennsylvania State Conference held from April 18 through April 21 at the Seven Springs Resort, Seven Springs, PA. Their 3D presentation of how this new form of immunotherapy works in the human body won first place at the competition. The students will move on to compete at the national level from June 22 through June 26 at the Georgia World Congress Center, Atlanta, GA.
The group consisted of all Western Wayne juniors including: Vaeda Pontosky, Dahlton Frisbie, Journey Sosa, Maya Black, Rachel Butler, and Robert Carey.
Many of the students on this team had competed in previous TSA events and recalled that many projects in the Scientific Visualization category feature concepts related to space and the universe.
The group from Western Wayne decided they wanted their entry this year to be on a unique topic to the event that can relate to many people.
“We thought that everyone in their families has some kind of connection to cancer and we wanted our project to focus on showing how a very effective treatment can fix this disease,” Rachel Butler, team member, said.
The students explained that CAR T-cell therapy now is a very costly cancer treatment, but that at least two drug companies are currently working to make it more accessible to the public.
Fellow teammate Vaeda Pontosky is excited to educate the public further on this cancer treatment and believes that another reason their project stood out to the judges other than its subject matter was that the group created it with the software Blender. Vaeda explained how the software that is a free download on Mac computers helped the group to create a very realistic representation of how CAR T-cell therapy eradicates cancer cells.
“The software allowed us to create rotating blood cells,” Vaeda explained. “I watched many YouTube videos on how to use the software so we could create our video. We worked on the project from October through February.”
All members of the group contributed to the final product. Dahlton Frisbie was in charge of writing the script used to narrate the video.
“I made sure our script matched all scenes,” Dahlton, who wishes to study law and business after graduation, explained. “It was especially challenging to be sure that all of the scientific terms were spelled correctly.”
Fellow junior teammate Rob Carey enjoyed the challenge of this project because he feels it will help better prepare him to study engineering in college.
“I think I most benefitted from being able to create 3D imaging for our project,” Rob said.
Rachel also believes the project has helped her to better prepare for a career in graphic design. She explained how she was in charge of creating the storyboard for the project and how she worked on the project binder among other tasks.
“It was most rewarding to see our final animation come together,” she explained. “We worked very hard to make the project flow together and to explain the complex process of CAR T-cell therapy in layman’s terms.”
Teammates Maya Black and Journey Sosa also made important contributions to the project. Maya worked to add all of the individual video clips the group made into one. Journey helped to work on the project binder and work log.
All members of this first place team are looking forward to attending TSA Nationals.
“It will be exciting to see other people’s projects from across the country,” Rachel said.
Vaeda feels eager to share the group’s project at this level and wants to polish it even more before the competition.
“We would like to make our 3D representation of the therapy destroying the actual cancer cells even better,” she explained.
Vaeda, who was recently awarded a 2018 Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine Research Fellowship, said the students on Western Wayne’s TSA team hope all of their efforts this year encourage more Western Wayne students to join the program in years to come.
“TSA teaches you so much about new technology in the world,” Vaeda explained.
“You are sure to find something you are interested in- even design and video editing are a part of TSA,” Rachel added.
To see the final edited copy of these students’ first place winning Scientific Visualization entry and learn more about CAR T-cell therapy visit http://ww3.westernwayne.org/tsa-scientific-visualization-presentation-first-in-the-state/