Victoria University Awarded for the 3D Printed Bones Project


Sonia Wilkie and Ghaith Zakaria, educators at Victoria University in Melbourne, Australia, used Zortrax M200 3D printers to make upper limb anatomical models for osteopathy students.The project increased the exams’ pass rate from 89% to 99% and has recently been selected as a runner up for the McKeachie Award for outstanding contributions toward improving university teaching and learning. Few weeks later, it has also been awarded Best Scientific Poster at Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia Conference. 

3D Printed Bones

“In anatomy, students get their hands-on experience with cadavers in labs. Time in the laboratory is limited and academics wanted to maximize student learning by extending hands-on learning experiences beyond the laboratory classes”, says Wilkie. “3D printed bones could be used in standard classrooms, and we could make a set of bones for every student”, she adds.


Ghaith Zakaria with his award-wining poster.

Each set of 3D printed bones comes with modeling clay. With modeling clay students mold muscles, ligaments, and tendons on to the bones of the arm. Each osteopathy student gets his or her own set of bones to keep. They can work with them, practice on them, and take them home”, says Wilkie. Recognition in the educators’ community was a matter of time. 

McKeachie Award

Few weeks ago, Wilkie and Zakaria took part in the Improving University Teaching Conference held on June 27-29 2018 in Port MacQarue, Australia, and  submitted their project for the Ginny and Bill McKeachie Award. The award was to honor Wilbert J. McKeachie who taught psychology at the University of Michigan for more than 40 years, during which time he served as president of the American Psychological Association the American Psychological Foundation, and the American Association of Higher Education. He also helped guide IUT.  His wife, Ginny, first suggested that the conference become international and attended the conference faithfully with Bill.


Educational upper limb models for osteopathy students at Victoria University.

In keeping with the McKeachies’ interests, the award annually recognizes outstanding contributions toward improving university teaching and learning. Award finalists are selected by the IUT Advisory Board. The winner is chosen at the conference based on the quality of their presentation.Although Wilkie and Zakaria did not win the award, they were pretty close. A runner-up in the scientific community amounts to honorable mention. But few weeks later the team came back to win another competition. 

HERDSA Conference 

The Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia is a scholarly society for people committed to the advancement of higher and tertiary education. It was established in 1972 to promote the development of higher education policy, practice and the study of teaching and learning. HERDSA encourages and disseminates research on teaching and learning and higher education development. It also works to build strong academic communities.


Ghaith Zakaria receiving the Best Scientific Poster Award at HERDSA 2018 conference.

Wilkie and Zakaria has been awarded the Best Scientific Poster Award and it means a lot. Winners of various awards at scientific conferences are usually selected by a panel of jurors. But best poster award almost always goes to the project that has won a popular vote of all conference participants. It’s like an audience award at a film festival. 3D printing educational aids at Victoria University’s got the community’s attention. Read the full case study about this project to find out why.