More than 75 corporate, government and nonprofit partners work alongside an equal number of academic departments and units on Centennial Campus. This proximity enables close collaboration between the university, industry and government, resulting in real-world opportunities for NC State students and increased innovation for corporate partners.
When executives at Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Intuitive Surgical began searching for a location that excelled in both technology and medicine, and offered proximity to the company’s East Coast customers, the Triangle region became a standout choice. After site visits and further analysis, Centennial Campus topped the list for its culture of innovation and density of top talent.
Intuitive Surgical is the global leader in the rapidly emerging field of robotic-assisted minimally invasive surgery. The company’s Centennial Campus team is focused on research and development to support and innovate existing technologies. In North Carolina alone, 47 hospitals and 600 surgeons across nearly all of North Carolina’s 100 counties now use Intuitive’s technology to improve patient safety.
Intuitive’s da Vinci Surgical System brings enhanced predictability and improved safety to surgery. The technology acts as an extension of the surgeon—the robot’s miniature “hands” operate based on the surgeon’s movement. The system provides for scaling of motion allowing more precise incisions, dissection and suturing than is possible with the human hand alone.
The robot provides 3D enhanced visualization coupled with the intuitive motion of the wristed instruments, creating an immersive experience that enables an exact sense of depth. The technology reduces trauma and risk of infection for the patient.
The company’s latest innovation, Integrated Table Motion, through a partnership with manufacturer Trumpf Medical, intuitively positions a patient for surgeries involving the torso. The operating table interacts and communicates with the da Vinci robot, shaving an average of 30 minutes off of surgeries.
Access to highly skilled talent was a key driver in the company’s expansion to Centennial Campus. Since opening on campus in 2016, its hired more than 10 NC State students. Many of these new hires started as student interns, and were brought on as full-time employees upon graduation.
Casey Molina was introduced to Intuitive Surgical during a senior design project while a biomedical engineering student at NC State. The program’s project is a yearlong assignment for student teams from NC State and UNC-Chapel Hill to explore an area of need in their industry, and then develop real-world applications.
Molina’s team explored several topics, finally landing on minimally invasive surgery as its focus area and Intuitive Surgical as their top choice for an industry adviser. Through close collaboration with the company, the student team was able to observe and better understand what it takes to prepare documents for regulatory bodies like the FDA.
After working on the project with Intuitive engineering team members, Molina was hired as a co-op. The company’s presence on Centennial Campus enabled her to work part time in between classes, easily going from her academic buildings to the office. Intuitive hired Molina in May 2017 when she graduated.
In 2017 alone, more than 300 NC State students were hired by companies located on Centennial Campus.