Category: Technology

Village People: Tammera Holmes, Saved by Aviation

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Tammera Holmes, a Maywood native and founder of AeroStar Corporation. | AeroStar

Thursday, May 11, 2017 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews

On May 6, Tammera L. Holmes, a Maywood native and 1996 graduate of Proviso East High School, spoke at a monthly Maywood Youth Mentoring breakfast held at 200 S. 5th Ave.

Holmes, a public speaker and aviation consultant, is the founder of AeroStar Corporation — an entity she founded in 2008 in order to recruit more minority young people into aviation, aerospace and STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering and Math] careers.

Holmes, who has garnered numerous accolades and plenty of national media attention, explained to a roomful of young people how airplanes saved her life. Below is a loosely transcribed excerpt of her talk.

In Maywood, there’s a former air field that was called Checkerboard Field, which sits right across the street from Loyola. That’s where Bessie Coleman [the first African American woman to hold a pilot license], flew in shows.

I didn’t find out until I was in my 20’s that Bessie came to my neighborhood and that she took off from the same area where I had my 17th birthday party. That was during the year I fell in love with aviation. I really feel like I share a connection with Bessie and with the land, the legacy and the historic value of Maywood.

But at the same time, I have some bad memories growing up here in poverty. In elementary school, we had the same books our parents had when they were in school. You could tell who had the books before you because there were names signed in them. We would literally find our parents’ names and our aunts’ and uncles’ names in those books. That’s how old they were. Half of them were missing back and front covers, and were taped together.

But school was really easy for me. Life was hard. I was a really bad kid. I stayed in trouble. I was getting straight A’s but I wasn’t getting any money because of the behavior report on the other side of that report card.

I had a mother and a father at home and was still a plum fool every day I walked out of the house. Once, I got into a fight on 5th Avenue, near where Church’s Chicken, the Gospel Rack and Little Caesar’s used to be. It was a huge brawl — about 30 of us.

That day, I had changed into a mini skirt and some slippery church shoes (my parents didn’t know). I thought I was super cute. This girl and I had been going at it for years. She was my arch enemy and it was only a matter of time before it went down. After the fight, the police came and everybody ran except for me. While the police were taking me to the station I clearly heard a voice say, ‘It doesn’t matter how smart you are now, does it?’

I had a weapon on me — a huge chain with a giant lock on the end of it. I kept it on me for protection. I bust the girl’s head with it. I could’ve killed the girl. That fast, I could’ve been in jail. That’s how quickly your life can change if you don’t keep yourself out of those situations. Her mother could’ve pressed charges. The only reason she didn’t was because we went to the same church. Here we are going to the same church on Sunday but raising hell during the week.

By the time I graduated high school, half of the young men I went to elementary school with were dead or in jail. These were my buddies, my classmates. And to see it happening today? To say that it’s sad is an understatement. We have work to do as parents, as adults, to get our kids back on the right track, because we can’t lose another generation. I don’t know if Maywood will last.

Just three days ago, one of my best friend’s nephews was murdered on 21st and Washington Boulevard in a drive-by in the middle of the day. When I look at the news and see those faces, those are people I know, kids I watched play, babies’ diapers I changed, kids I babysat and pushed in the stroller.

I was fortunate. One day, when I was 16, my mom made me take a plane ride with the Chicago chapter of the Tuskegee Airmen at Meigs Field. I saw all these black guys with air planes giving kids rides and one asked me if I wanted to fly.

I was like, ‘This dude doesn’t know how crazy I am.’ But I did it. We flew over Lake Michigan on the most beautiful day, looking at the Chicago skyline. I told myself then that I may be able do this for the rest of my life. What I knew for sure is that I wouldn’t be in the back seat of a police car again.

Aviation saved my life because it gave me something to pursue, something to lose and something to live for.

Why aviation needs minority young people 

We’re at a crossroads in the United States, which ranks 20th in science and 27th in math among developed nations. Fifty percent of all freshmen entering high school in the United States won’t graduate on time and only 20 percent have post-secondary pathways that they’ll complete within five years. That means they won’t get a college degree and they won’t acquire hard skills.

Around 10,500 highly skilled employees are leaving the workforce every day, but we have so many young people and young adults who can’t replace them. Who’s qualified to work those jobs? That’s why each year the aerospace industry gives out 7,100 H-1B visas, which are given to people who come into our country to work. Those 7,100 jobs aren’t going to U.S. citizens.

Boeing put out a report in 2016 saying 1.5 million technicians, pilots and crew are going to be needed by 2035. Where will we get the people to fill them in 20 years? Are our kindergartners going to be able to take those jobs in 20 years? Not if they’re not trained. VFP

Maywood Youth Mentoring holds monthly breakfasts from 9 a.m. until 11 a.m., on the first Saturday of each month, at 200 S. 5th Ave.

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County Commissioner Calls for Moratorium on Facebook Live

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Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin during a press conference outside of Facebook’s Chicago headquarters on Friday. | Michael Romain/VFP

Sunday, April 23, 2017 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews

Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin (1st) — whose district includes all or parts of Bellwood, Broadview, Maywood and Melrose Park — staged a press conference Friday outside of Facebook’s Chicago headquarters in the West Loop.

Boykin — along with Rev. Jesse Jackson, Father Michael Pfleger, and a small group of experts in the fields of education, medicine, law enforcement and social services — called for the social media giant to institute a 30-day moratorium on its live-streaming service so that the company could consider reforming the technology.

The press conference comes in the wake of the killing of Robert Godwin, a Cleveland man who was shot to death on Easter Sunday by Steve Stephens, who apparently targeted Godwin randomly. Stevens later posted Godwin’s murder on Facebook before committing suicide on April 18.

“The death of Mr. Godwin, the crucifixion of Mr. Godwin on Resurrection Sunday, stayed on Facebook for more than two hours,” said Boykin at the April 21 press conference. “That should never happen. Not in America.”

Boykin and others who spoke at the press conference referenced other acts of violence that have been posted to Facebook.

“There must be a floor of decency beneath which we are unwilling to go,” Boykin said. “The live-streaming of rapes, murders, suicides and vicious assaults is that floor that we must never go beneath.”

Boykin said that he sent a letter to Facebook’s founder, Mark Zuckerberg, asking the billionaire to implement the 30-day moratorium and to put an emergency button in place to notify Facebook administrators that “a vile video has been posted.”

The commissioner also asked for the company to implement a measure that would prevent those videos from being shared with third parties other than law enforcement.

“We’re calling on Facebook to have corporate responsibility,” said Pfleger. “I appreciate when Facebook puts out statements of sympathy when somebody’s been raped or shot or killed on Facebook Live. But sympathy is not good enough. We need corporate action and corporate responsibility.”

Pfleger argued that Facebook should be as vigilant with protecting human life as it is with protecting property rights.

“I can’t even tell you how much violence in the neighborhoods, in my neighborhood, that is sparked and birthed on social media,” Pfleger said.

“I don’t quite understand. I do Facebook Live and behind me Stevie Wonder’s song is playing. They will immediately shut it down because I don’t have property rights to play that song in the background of my Facebook Live.

“If we have intellectual rights and copyright protections, why would we not have human life protection? So when 14- and 15-year-olds are on Facebook and Facebook Live wielding guns around, which is illegal, why is that not immediately shut down?”

Jackson said that he called Facebook’s California office earlier this month but has not yet gotten a response from the company. Boykin said that Zuckerberg hasn’t responded yet to his letter.

Jackson nonetheless called for an emergency meeting with Facebook leadership to try to resolve some of the problems with its live-streaming service.

Facebook officials could not be reached for comment. VFP

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Maywood Now Has a ‘Tech District’ That Offers Weekend Courses in 3-D Printing

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A series of Ultimaker 3-D printers inside of a classroom at the University of Illinois College of Business MakerLab. | University of Illinois || Below, Bridgette Chatman-Lewis, Vena Nelson, Maywood Mayor Edwenna Perkins, Maywood Trustee Isiah Brandon, Tumia Rumero and U.S. Rep. Danny K. Davis inside of Nelson’s Global Business Center in Maywood earlier this month.

tech-picWednesday, October 26, 2016 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews || UPDATED: 5:35 p.m.

“A 3-D printer can make a prototype of a Porsche in a matter of days or hours,” said business consultant Bridgette Chatman-Lewis earlier this month while hosting roughly 40 people inside of the Global Business Center, 840 S. 17th Ave., in Maywood.

The Center, which offers temporary office space and wraparound services to burgeoning businesses, is considered the hub of a technology district that Chatman-Lewis envisions for Maywood.

The Center has, for the last few weeks, also been a site for training young people in the magic of 3-D printing, a manufacturing process that creates three-dimensional objects like cars or even houses from digital files (click here for more info on the technology).

Chatman-Lewis, a native of Maywood, heads up the Oak Brook-based Chatman Lewis Consulting, which specializes in bringing economic development to hard-pressed communities.

After years of trying to gain a foothold into Maywood and at the urging Mayor Edwenna Perkins, Chatman-Lewis said her firm is now establishing a presence in the community where she was raised.

Earlier this year, Chatman-Lewis announced that Maywood would be among the communities her firm is seeking to “adopt,” in order to lure economic opportunities to town — a process the strategist said she’ll execute under an arm of her firm called the Economic Growth Initiative.

Chatman-Lewis has said EGI will execute its five-point plan in three phases. Those points include creating jobs, decreasing crime, increasing per capita income, providing youth and senior programming, and improving the community’s aesthetic landscape.

The Global Business Center, which is owned and operated by Maywood entrepreneurs Andre and Vena Nelson, was the site of the Oct. 14 kickoff for the technology aspect of EGI’s mandate to bring more youth programming into the village.

Saturday, Oct. 15 marked the start of the first session of instructional courses in 3-D printing at the Center. The eight-week training program, which takes place on the weekends, will offer young people, ages 16 to 24, the opportunity to earn a certification in 3-D printing technology, which they can then leverage into employment opportunities.

“The starting pay for 3-D printing jobs is between $45,000 and $75,000,” Chatman-Lewis said. “There’s a big demand for it in everything from soup to nuts. It’s huge.”

The course is offered through collaboration among EGI, Microsoft, the University of Illinois MakerLab and the Global Business Center — the latter of which has offered up some of its employees to serve as trained 3-D instructors. Maywood native and technology guru Sy Bounds, a frequent collaborator with the Nelsons, will facilitate the program.

The 15-person maximum enrollment level for the program’s first training cohort has already been reached, Chatman-Lewis said; however, interested young people can still apply for open spots in other 15-student cohorts. The maximum total number of students the program will accept is 100, she noted.

Although the training is free, participants will need to each fund-raise at least $100 to offset the cost it takes to administer the program.

“It’s a circle of accountability we’re going to build,” Chatman-Lewis said.

The first session will take place from October to December, with the next session taking place between February and April 2017. Although the program targets young people, 16 to 24, older applicants won’t necessarily be turned away, Chatman-Lewis said. Their names will be put in a lottery for open slots.

But the technological buzz at the Center won’t be limited to just those training courses, EGI officials said. Chatman-Lewis deemed the Center Maywood’s technology district. Bounds, she said, will serve as its czar.

The concept is to give area young people the expertise to take advantage of 21st Century economic opportunities while also maintaining a sense of place that will commit them to serving their communities even after they’ve seized those opportunities and secured those high-paying jobs.

“My research has shown that we have an incredible amount of brilliant young people,” Bounds said during the Oct. 14 kick-off event. “The problem is that we have to make sure they don’t take that information and head to Corporate America.”

In addition to 3-D printing and technology training, Chatman-Lewis said EGI will also host training courses in areas such as entrepreneurship, web development and product licensing, among others.

She said EGI is also looking for volunteers to man other community events, such as the Walk/Run it held in June and for which planning has already started for next year, a social/emotional learning program, an annual Global Initiative Network Event (GINE) and a Bulls/Sox lock-in for 3-D printing participants who successfully raise $100.

Tumia Rumero, an aide to Congressman Danny K. Davis (7th), who was in attendance at the Oct. 14 event, connected the training young people in Maywood are receiving to the wave of technology companies that are planting roots in the Chicago area.

“We have Google in our congressional district, Amazon has a headquarters here, Pandora just opened up a headquarters, Microsoft is at the Aon Center, Motorola just re-headquartered here,” Rumero said.

“With all those resources,” she said, “how do we begin to match what they’re doing with the people in the communities and so that’s where our technology advisory committee is going?”

Rumero touted a series of technology events the Congressman has been hosting over the last year, including a forum at Google’s Chicago headquarters, as an example of connecting area young people to opportunities in the technology field.

A group of students and administrators from Proviso Township District 209 High Schools attended the Google event, along with Chatman-Lewis and Bounds, who is on Davis’s technology advisory committee.

One challenge some attendees at the Oct. 14 event pointed out was how young people would be persuaded to take advantage of the tech training.

“How do you get them interested?” one attendee asked. “If you know that there are youth out here who have the brainpower and you know they can do it, how do you get them away from sports?”

Shanee Edwards, a 3-D printing course instructor and the marketing and sales specialist for Vena Nelson’s Go Big Accounting — the Business Center’s principal tenant and an associated company — said the trick to grabbing a young person’s attention is to make the learning fun.

“I would probably be inclusive. If it was my son, I’d explore the possibility that you can even design a new form of cleats,” Edwards said.

“Involve the interests they already have versus just trying to take them completely away from something they already love,” she added. “But if you find a way to incorporate [technology training inclusively], they’ll be able to make connections on their own.” VFP

For more info on the courses, email info@chatmanlewisconsulting.com

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Proviso Youths See Google, Tech World Close Up

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Nikyah Little, left , and U.S. Rep. Danny K. Davis (7th), experience Google Cardboard viewers, which take wearers on a wraparound 3-D trip of virtual reality. Davis hosted a youth tech summit on June 17 at Google’s new Chicago headquarters. Below, Brittany Orr, left, and Barbara Cole, during the summit. | William Camargo/Wednesday Journal

Google summit_B Cole and OrrMonday, June 20, 2016 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews || @village_free || Updated: 6:05 p.m.

It was Brittany Orr’s first time at Google’s chic new Chicago headquarters. The 19-year-old graduate of Proviso East High School wants to break into computer coding and network security, but could see herself checking in at the high-tech 10-story office building with wraparound views of the Chicago skyline.

“I like it here,” said Orr, who had come at the insistence of Barbara Cole, the executive director of Maywood Youth Mentoring. “I wish I worked here, actually.”

Orr was one of at least 100 young people from the western suburbs and Chicago’s West Side who attended the June 17 Youth Technology Initiative hosted by U.S. Rep. Danny K. Davis (7th).

Davis said the tech summits are designed to bring young people, particularly minorities and young women, face-to-face with leaders in business, technology and government. The summit at Google, his office noted, is the first in a series of others that will take place inside tech hotspots. Another will be held inside Microsoft’s Loop headquarters.

The congressman said he hopes to make stories like that of Kaitlyn Lee, a recent graduate of Barrington High School who’ll head to Harvard in the fall to study computer science math, routine in schools like Proviso.

The summit couldn’t come at a more pivotal time, according to Bernard Clay, the executive director of Introspect Youth Services who brought a small group of young people who participate in his organization along with him to Google.

“We’re in a race to get as many African-American kids involved in STEM as possible and we need to step up the pace,” Clay said.

Sabrina Chung, Lee’s best friend and co-presenter, fleshed out the opportunity ahead for the enterprising student of color who decides to forge a path in the STEM field.

“The number of computer science jobs will triple by 2020, so just the sheer number of computer engineers we need by this time is huge and we are not fulfilling the number of jobs that we need,” said Chung. “This still leaves 25 percent of the estimated 1.35 million jobs vacant, which is really, really scary. So we just need engineers to fill these jobs. The salaries of these computer scientists is twice the national average.”

But it could be difficult for minority and female students to realize the high pay and prestige of STEM careers, many of the summit’s attendees noted. Just responding to those challenges takes its own kind of innovation.

“You’ll have many, many, many challenges,” said summit presenter Dyani Cox. “But I encourage you today, while you’re here, to not focus on your challenges, but on your endless possibilities. You can do anything you want to do, because there are people to support you.”

Cox, who heads up Black Girls Code’s Chicago chapter, eventually overcame those high hurdles to earn bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical engineering.

Chung and Lee took matters into their own hands and started a computer coding club for girls in response to the intimidation, Lee said, of being one of two girls in her AP computer science class at Barrington High.

Proviso Township District 209 Board President Teresa McKelvy said she brought along around 24 district students to Google. McKelvy said the trip is one part of a more comprehensive plan to expose students in the district to career paths in the tech field.

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“Education is moving to blended environments,” McKelvy said. “Most of the children know way more than we did at their age, but technology is here to stay. So we have to keep investing in them and in their education, and provide them with the tools and career paths so they know that options are available We’re trying to put them in contact with organizations like Google and Microsoft to show them the way.”

In addition to networking with leading technology experts, the students also got hands on with one of Google’s newest ‘it’ gadgets — the Google Cardboard viewer, a pair of binocular-shaped cardboard eye pieces that are this century’s DIY equivalent to the View-Master — and a robot named Eragon.

Jackie Moore, the founder of Chicago Knights Robotics, an organization that promotes STEM learning among young people by, among other activities, taking them to robotics competitions, said technology is a metaphor for life in a modern society.

Eragon, Moore said, was built by one of her robotics teams for a competition in Australia, where it won awards for its resilient design. The robot, however, is merely the product of  a much more comprehensive process involving a team of different people with specialized skills, she noted.

“The team is much more than just the robot,” Moore said. “In addition to building the robot, we have to market the robot, recruit students, raise funds and develop an online presence via social media. The way we do robotics is really very holistic. There’s probably not a subject in a class you’ve taken that doesn’t get addressed.”

Davis reinforced Moore’s metaphor, before sharing a high-tech experience of his own.

“In this summit, we’re trying to teach young people not only about technology, but about life,” he said. “Society now is so data-driven that technology is the absolute wave of the future. I’ve seen people using robotics to perform surgery and it’s nothing unusual, you know. The doctors were getting ready to operate and rather than putting on rubber gloves they were pecking on the computer.” VFP

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Sy’s Creative World: One Local Innovator Dreams of A Technology Park in Maywood

Screenshot 2014-07-24 at 6.10.25 PM(Sy Bounds sits in his work space at 846 S. 17th Avenue; exterior pictured below. Photos by Michael Romain by the Village Free Press).

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Thursday, July 24, 2014 || By Michael Romain

MAYWOOD–“Behind you, we’re creating a mobile phone repair station,” said Sy Bounds–Maywood resident, former disk jockey, techie and teacher. He was pointing to a booth near the doorway of his Madison Street base of operations. Bounds’ world of gadgets and apps is an extension of the Global Business Center, located next door. The Center, owned and operated by Maywood resident Vena Nelson, provides small businesses in the area with temporary office space, printing services, a conference room, Wi-Fi access and Sy Bounds’ brain for those entrepreneurs wanting to expand their digital footprints. They can even go to Nelson, an accountant by trade, for financial services and advice.

For Nelson and Bounds, the goal is to offer wraparound support, guidance and nurturing to people whose professional ambitions may go beyond a cubicle and a time clock. But in addition to small businesses and entrepreneurs, Bounds sees his space as a lab of sorts for area children–many of whom may be hip to Facebook, Twitter and blogs, but clueless about how to leverage those technologies into careers. He wants to offer classes to teach people–young and old–that the internet can be about more than leisure and consumption–it can also be about producing dreams.

“Our community really doesn’t understand social media,” Bounds said one afternoon last month. He was leaned back in front of a computer station in his space of exploration. A large projector screen in the background and several computer monitors anchored throughout the space gave the room a heady vibe, as if we were in on some top-secret Silicon Valley project. The space is an extension of Bounds himself, whose perspective on most things is filtered through technology.

“My core class right now is going to be about digital citizenship,” he said. “That’s what most of us are right now, but we don’t know that. There are rules and regulations that apply and will get more pronounced as time goes on. As a community, we’re using these tools and we don’t understand the science of them.”

Bounds, 69, wasn’t always this technologically deep. For 3 1/2 years, he hosted a radio show out of Triton College called “Sy’s Creative World,” where his playlist spanned genres, continents and eras–from Brazilian Jazz to Broadway show tunes. While at Triton one day, he wandered into the college computer lab, saw the equipment and became curious.

“I began asking how to use the computers. That’s when I began to understand the largeness of computers,” he said. His life was changed.

He said that he was first introduced to the worlds of Google Plus and WordPress and Blogger and Twitter by Dr. Barbara Iverson, the co-founder and co-publisher of the news website Chicago Talks and associate professor of journalism at Columbia College Chicago.

“Barbara is the Arianna Huffington of Chicago media,” Bounds said. “She started the legendary Chicago Blogger Meetups, which were informal classes at Columbia that were very lively and full of brilliant people. I was a founding member. We put Twitter on the table when it first came out. Nobody knew about it.”

He said that, from that point on, he began evolving, expanding his awareness and knowledge. It wasn’t long before he felt the urge to share what he knew. The desire has taken him all over the Chicagoland area.

“I’ve taught innovative blogging for After School Matters, the first and only blogging class with that organization,” Bounds said. “I did a lot of work in Humboldt Park and all over the West Side. In 2011, I did community outreach for Chicago Google, creating digital outreach programming for nonprofits all over the city. A lot has transpired since those early days, but the literacy still isn’t there in our community.”

In Maywood, Bounds hopes to use his space to open residents, young and old, to the possibilities of social media. He has lots of plans, perhaps the most intriguing of which is what he calls neighborhood technology navigators, young people who will take the technology and digital media training they receive from Bounds and teach those skills to older people and other residents in the community who lack digital literacy. He and Nelson envision the small complex of human talent, business resources and technological capacity they’ve created on the corner of 17th and Madison as a business/technology park for Maywood. And this is just the start. They want to see it grow and evolve into a place renowned for solving problems.

“They’ll be a number of students here, because I’m interested in young people, older people, seniors, budding entrepreneurs, veterans,” Bounds said. “This digital accelerator will help a lot of people. Ultimately it’s a think tank. It’s about creating solutions.”

It’s an ambitious project, but Bounds may be its greatest walking testimony. When asked how he was able to climb the digital learning curve so quickly at his age, he lit up, as if he was expecting the question all along.

“It’s never too late,” he said. “I have a real problem with people who complain about being old and retired. Retirement is the best time.” VFP

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Loyola Becomes First IL Hospital to Use 3-D Technology in Minimally Invasive Lung Surgery

This story was originally published by Newswise.

Released: 10/28/2013 12:55 PM EDT
Source Newsroom: Loyola University Health System

Newswise — MAYWOOD, Il. – Loyola University Medical Center is the first Illinois hospital to use new 3-D vision technology for minimally invasive lung surgery.

The technology is called 3-D video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS). A small video camera is introduced into the patient’s chest with a scope. Surgical instruments are introduced through other small holes. The surgeon wears 3-D goggles, which restore the depth perception that is lost with conventional two-dimensional video-assisted systems.

Marcelo DaSilva, MD, FACS, used the system while performing surgery on lung cancer patient Don Parks, a retired police officer who lives in LaSalle, Il. DaSilva removed the lower lobe of Parks’ right lung. It was Parks’ second bout of cancer. In 2006, Parks was successfully treated at Loyola for laryngeal cancer.

The minimally invasive technique results in less pain, faster recovery and smaller scars than open surgery. Most patients go home in one or two days and fully recover in two weeks. The patient is left with three small scars, each less than an inch across.

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Parks said the post-surgical pain lasted only a couple days, and was well controlled by pain meds. “It wasn’t bad at all,” he said. He also appreciates the small incisions, and how quickly he is healing.

In conventional video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery, a tiny camera called a thoracoscope, transmits images of the surgery to a 2-D video monitor that the surgeon views while performing the surgery. With the 3-D technology, the surgeon instead views the surgery through 3-D goggles.

The 3-D system produces a high-resolution image and stereoscopic depth perception. It provides a precise spatial view of anatomy and improves the surgeon’s hand-eye coordination. It is especially beneficial in performing more complex tasks.

“For the first time in laparoscopic surgery, this system enables the surgeon to experience a natural, 3-D view inside the human body,” DaSilva said.

The 3-D VATS system can be used for thoracic procedures such as lung cancer surgery, biopsies and removal of mediastinum tumors, DaSilva said.

DaSilva recently joined Loyola as Chief of Thoracic Surgery. In addition to performing minimally invasive lung cancer surgery, DaSilva is one of the world’s top specialists in performing complex surgeries for rare mesothelioma cancers. VFP