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Beyond Disciplines

Stacy Williams came to Case Western Reserve more than a decade ago with an idea: create a virtual lab for speech- language pathology students to learn how to observe, assess, diagnose and interact with patients.

With a PhD in communication sciences and disorders, Williams knew what to teach. Her challenge was finding someone willing to help with the how.

Enter Marc Buchner, associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science. When Williams sought colleagues to assist with the technology needed to make the lab a reality, he and others quickly engaged.

“My success [developing computer- based simulations] was due to my ability to collaborate with colleagues in different fields at the university,” explained Williams, now an adjunct associate professor specializing in communication sciences. “I relied on subject matter experts like Marc for assistance in developing the inner workings of the technology itself.”

The Virtual Immersion Center for Simulation Research proved to be just the beginning. Williams went on to found Simucase, a global company offering clinical simulations for speech-language pathology, audiology and occupational therapy.

Its origins and expansion can be found in U.S. patents like those Williams and Buchner received in 2018.*

“Collaborations like this one are truly rewarding,” said Buchner, “and exemplify the type of approach that we are now, in the university’s new strategic plan, looking to emphasize and support.”

This patent is indicative of a trend at Case Western Reserve: In 2018, the National Academy of Inventors and Intellectual Property Owners Association ranked the university 17th in the “Top 100 Worldwide Universities Granted U.S. Utility Patents.”

*Williams. S.L. & Buchner, M. (2018) United States Patent Numbers 9911352, 10089895 titled: Situated Simulation for Training, Education and Therapy.