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May 2014

Student Spotlight: College of Engineering

Michael Lasch

Watch Michael’s Commencement Close-up below

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Creating life-changing devices

Once on the verge of dropping out, Michael Lasch graduates with six provisional patents

Michael Lasch is dedicating his life to engineering medical devices that make life better for people.

The medical devices he creates are not sexy or glamorous. On the contrary, his niche is in working on the stuff no one wants to talk about.

For example, one device he has developed is designed to dramatically reduce some of the pain associated with undergoing a colonoscopy. Another device he is working on will help women who experience bladder incontinence after giving birth.

“I always wanted to do something to end people’s suffering,” says Lasch. “That’s a major reason why I chose to become an engineer. I like to take my skill set as an engineer and blend it with the skill set that doctors have in order to alleviate their patients’ suffering.”

He credits biomechanical engineering professor Yusheng Feng for much of his success. In fact, due to a then-undiagnosed learning disability, Lasch struggled significantly the first two years of college and was on the verge of dropping out when Feng took a chance on hiring him as a summer intern for the UTSA Center for Simulation, Visualization and Real-Time Prediction (SiViRT).

“When I first met Michael, he was very engaged in class and was not afraid to come to my office and express his concern about his grades and his challenges in learning. It was clear that he was willing to do his best although he was obviously struggling. It was that determination that won him the intern position at SiViRT,” recalled Feng. “Michael is one of the most prolific engineering inventors and designers of all the students I have worked with. He has made significant contributions to medical device innovation in the last two years and has six patent applications to his name. It is really a joy, as an educator and researcher, to see our students grow not only in their knowledge but also their technical skills, creativity and, more importantly, their character.”

Once Lasch began working with Feng, his life turned around. He gained focus, he became highly organized and his grades began to rise. In essence, he had found his mission.

“I was at the right place at the right time,” said Lasch. “I am at a university where undergraduates are given the opportunity to do significant research. There’s nowhere else besides UTSA that I could have gotten this type of experience as an undergraduate.”

Lasch credits his parents, brother, aunt and uncle and girlfriend Robin for helping him through the most difficult times.

“Few people can be successful without the support of others,” he said. “Everything I have ever accomplished comes down to my family and their support as well as the motivation I have to make them proud.”

Luckily for UTSA, Lasch will begin his Master’s in Mechanical Engineering here in the fall and will continue to contribute to the university’s Tier One research mission.

– KC Gonzalez

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