Oct 6, 2017 | By Julia

Just in time for Breast Cancer Awareness Month, South African prosthetics company iMedTech has launched a new initiative for low-income breast cancer survivors. Spearheaded by iMedTech founder and acclaimed mechanical engineer Nneile Nkholise, the new project aims to 3D print 1000 prosthetic breasts for 1000 mastectomy patients in need.

While 3D printed prosthetics are nothing new, Nkholise’s initiative focuses squarely on the underrepresented issue of artificial breast forms. It’s a type of prosthetic that’s often overlooked by the mainstream media, yet just as important as 3D printed limbs such as arms and legs when considering the trauma of breast cancer survivors. Take into account the target group of low-income South African women, who lack the resources and funds necessary to acquire a prosthetic, and the iMedTech plan pretty much tops the list of the best news we’ve heard all week.

As an award-winning technologist, Nkholise is no stranger to groundbreaking innovation. At only 28-years-young, the South African engineer is the founder of iMedTech Group, a Thaba Nchu-based organization that fabricates prostheses using additive manufacturing technology. The idea was born out of Nkholise’s graduate research at the Central University of Technology, where she discovered that the same methods for treating burn victims and patients with facial deformations can be used to benefit women who have undergone a mastectomy.

Since graduating several years ago, Nkholise has applied her research extensively in the fields of education and technology. Beyond her work with iMedTech, the up-and-coming social entrepreneur is also renowned for project Minute Words, a fun, educational game that uses 3D printed components to engage primary school students in building their vocabulary.

With iMedTech, Nkholise is keen to see those educational opportunities extended to young African women as well. The progressive organization boasts a primary commitment to employ African women under the age of 30 with research experience in mechanical engineering, thus providing a professional platform for innovation and industry development for those often excluded from the field. We all know being a black woman in tech isn’t easy (to say the least), but with iMedTech, Nkholise is carving a new space for others like her to grow, learn, and thrive.

So far, her hard work has already started to pay off. Nkholise recently represented South Africa at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in San Francisco, and was named one of Africa’s top female innovators at the World Economic Forum last year. The iMedTech founder has also been featured in Forbes Africa Woman magazine, and has participated in the Discovery MedTech Silicon Valley program and Tony Elumelu Foundation. By showing just how much rural African women are capable of achieving in the tech world when given the opportunity, Nkholise is quickly changing the perception that technological advancement can only emerge from first-world nations.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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