Biomaterial collaboration

WWU professor and student works with Loma Linda University


Qin Ma, professor of engineering, and Mitchel Knapp, senior engineering major, collaborated with Loma Linda University (LLU) this summer by conducting research on biomaterials. They worked together to test the durability of recycled materials to be used in prosthetics. This intensive testing took place on campus with machines located in Kretschmar Hall. 

Representatives from both Walla Walla University and LLU have been working on this research project for over a year now. The purpose is to be more environmentally friendly through using recycled plastics while still producing a quality product. “You want biomaterials to be resilient and reliable which is critical because it goes onto the body,” said Ma. The testing Ma and Knapp did was to ensure the materials would be strong enough for others to use in the creation of prosthetics and limb replacements. 

Through this summer internship, Knapp was able to see how engineering processes work in a more realistic setting than a classroom. “It is very valuable to be practical and use what you have learned in school,” said Ma. The testing process of the biomaterials followed the standards of the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM). Practicing this process as an intern is helpful for students like Knapp to apply what they have learned in classes through hands-on research. 

“Students really learn how to use these kinds of standards and make the specimen right. They make a procedure for the testing to be effective and create a process for the results they want to have,” explained Ma. Each of these steps were critical for Ma and Knapp as they worked together to make significant progress over the summer.  

More research opportunities will be available to students at WWU. On October 5, Michael Moor from LLU will be presenting from 5–6 p.m. in Rigby Hall to discuss his work in orthotics and prosthetics, and to potentially recruit more researchers. 

Posted on October 3, 2022. 


Portrait of Mitchel Knapp
Mitchel Knapp, senior engineering major, played a key role in research that tested the durability of recycled materials for use in prosthetics.
Photo of bioengineering student
Knapp smiles next to the machines he used for research.