What city is known as “the orthopedic capital of the world”?
Would you believe it is Warsaw, Ind., population: 13,559? Where? You might ask. North-central Indiana, approximately 40 miles from Fort Wayne, the second largest city in the state (population: 255,000), is where.
The DePuy Manufacturing Company, which existed independently for over 100 years before being acquired by Johnson & Johnson, was founded in Warsaw in 1895 with a focus on orthopedic devices. Rival businesses eventually settled in the area, giving Warsaw its unlikely title. One such company is Biomet, home to University of Kentucky biomedical engineering alumnus Gautam Gupta.
Gupta is an applications manager in the Advanced Process Technology group at Biomet, where he has been since March 2007.
“My role is to find new technology platforms that can be used to design and manufacture devices more efficiently and cost effectively,” he says. “Traditional manufacturing processes sometimes limit our ability to push the envelope with new implant designs, so I try to find technologies that allow us to literally turn dreams into reality.”
While writing his dissertation and working with Center for Biomedical Engineering director David Puleo on various research products, a position at Biomet became available. Recognizing Biomet as among the world’s leaders in the orthopedic device industry, Gupta saw the position as a great opportunity to utilize his education on a world class stage.
“When I first joined Biomet, I worked on applying Hydroxyapatite coatings to orthopedic devices, which improves implant fixation to host bone. It was an exciting project and was a great way for me to apply what I had learned at UK into solving real life problems,” he recalls.
Gupta came to the Center for Biomedical Engineering because of his interest in bone tissue engineering. As a student, he designed sophisticated ceramic scaffolds for bone regeneration, optimizing material properties to enhance performance. Looking back, he believes what he learned as a biomedical engineering student prepared him for his future career.
“Often, students think that what they learn in school is not applicable in the real world,” says Gupta. “That wasn’t the case for me at all. What I learned at UK has helped me design better orthopedic implants, which improves the quality of life for patients. In the end, that is what excites me about my work—making a difference in people’s lives. Every day, I am developing new technologies that have the potential to positively impact so many individuals.
While Gupta enjoys his work at Biomet, he has bigger plans for his future—starting his own biotechnology company. To prepare, he is earning an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.
“As I have moved forward in my career, I have become more involved with the business side of manufacturing orthopedic devices. I am working toward the MBA to improve my understanding of fundamental principles that businesses around the world use to function and thrive. When I run my own business, I want to have a holistic perspective of the fundamentals that businesses use to create structures around technologies,” he explains.
Because Gupta believes orthopedic devices is a field often overlooked, he encourages future graduates to consider the burgeoning opportunities available.
“This is a great field for engineering graduates, especially mechanical engineers,” Gupta emphasizes. “The orthopedic device industry is growing, and as people live longer, stay physically active and implants become more affordable, the demand for orthopedic devices will only increase worldwide.