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Automation and the Body: Controller vs. Brain

We are working on merging the worlds of two different industries - engineering and regenerative medicine – with the goal of forming a new industry: biomanufacturing.

As some of you may have already experienced, crossing paths with individuals that are outside your area of expertise who believe they can somehow contribute to this emerging field can feel confusing or uncomfortable.

As an engineer, I am still learning the language of scientists. And I’m sure that as scientists, it can be challenging for you to think and understand the lingo and thought process of engineers. But as Dean Kamen, ARMI | BioFabUSA Executive Director, has said before “The fact that you may be confused or uncomfortable proves we’re probably on the right track.”  

The sooner we start thinking about the automation process that is required to build engineered tissues at a large scale, the better off we will be. That is why I’m so excited to be working with ARMI | BioFabUSA and help them develop a blog series titled “Automation and the Body”.

I hope that with this series, you can gain some insight behind an engineer’s thought process by linking it to something that you as scientists know fairly well – the human body.

Looking at the human body, there are countless components that make up a working system. Your circulatory system, muscular system, nervous system, senses and your brain are some of the parts that are required for your body to function normally.

The brain is only a small piece of what is essential in order for the body to work. The brain acts as a control center for all of the body’s functions, performing a wide array of tasks that allow us to move freely, communicate with one another, and express emotions.

Although it is a small part of a whole, we can look at the brain at an even more granular level. We can break it into the different lobes responsible for specific bodily functions.

We can even break the lobes down even further into specific cell types within the brain such as neurons and various types of glial cells. Of the approximately 100 billion cells that comprise the brain, all of them are working together and firing rapidly at this very moment to ensure that the words that you are reading are conceptualized into thoughts that you can understand.

Let’s shift into a new gear (pun intended): an automation system. It too has a number of different components working together to accomplish a set of goals...

If you would like to learn more about the similarities between the human brain and a controller within an automation system, and how you can implement controllers into your research to make everyday tasks easier, visit the Automation Station portion of our Community Portal.