A trip to Iceland has been a bucket list destination for me ever since I became a photographer. I’ve always seen myself as a photojournalist style photographer, so pairing my shots with a story comes second nature to me.
As soon as my trip was booked, I started reading up on the trends, current affairs and lifestyles of Iceland. This country had so many fascinating stories to write about, but one story in particular really sparked my interest. It was a story on a guy named Kyle Edmunds and he was from Wisconsin USA. Yes, you read right… Wisconsin. A little state nestled in the North Easterly part of the United States. This is my story about meeting Kyle.
It was early Sunday Morning, when I met Kyle in the “Sun Room” of the impressive rotunda area of Reykjavic University . He fit the bill of what I would expect an Icelander to look like (even though I hadn’t really ever met an Icelander before and especially not one who came from Wisconsin!) Honesty, he reminded me of a long, fair-haired, trendy Indiana Jones.
Kyle Edmunds was born and raised in Token Creek, Wisconsin USA. A small farming community with no more than 45 residents to its credit. I tried to verify those numbers and darned if I was able to find one solid link on it’s stats. Kyle was now living the high life as a professor at Reykjavik University and was one of those people who just seemed to have endless credentials. Kyle has an undergraduate in Nuclear Engineering and Medical Physics, and spent 2 years in Boston at Tufts University where he got his Masters in Tissue Engineering with a focus on the heart. Pretty impressive right, but I haven’t even started on what he’s accomplished after all that studying! Not too shabby for a guy who just turned the ripe age of 26!
Post Masters Kyle was a little unsure of his direction in life. Similar to me, he took a photography vacation to Iceland which is where his love affair began with the country. While on his trip, he knew he had to find a way to return to the beautiful country, so with a few phone calls and few emails, Kyle secured a job interview with a professor at the University. With his background and his passion, he proved to be a perfect match for their PHD program and today he is a proud Doctoral Candidate.
“I’m passionate about so many different things,
as soon as I find something that is cool and I can help..
That’s what I what I do!”
Our interview was in Kyle’s own little glassed in area situated in the main rotunda of the university. I’ve seen clippings of stories on Kyle, so I know he’s been interviewed before, but as he sits in front of me, I get the impression that he may be a little weirded out that a total stranger like me, a photographer and blogger from Canada, would want to write about his life. He was so humbled about my interest in his life and his accomplishments, a quality that I liked about him right from the get go.
I start the interview by asking Kyle about his passion in Global Development. While volunteering with Engineers Without Borders , he travelled to Rwanda where he led a rainwater catchment project for a small school. He then travelled on to Uganda where he led a team of workers in a bore hole water access project.
In our interview he conveyed to me the importance of building an organization that is sustainable, and has a clear directive. He would like to be associated with an organization that doesn’t get bogged down with bureaucratic red tape, slowing down the essential process of acquiring the necessary funding desperately needed to get work done in these third world countries.
In October 2016 Kyle announced through his Facebook page that he was officially kicking off Iceland’s first ever student engineering NGO for international development projects – “Engineers for Global Development”.
You can tell it’s important to Kyle to identify problems in the world and come up with ways to solve them.
“As an engineer, it’s so important for me
to focus on the impacts of what I’m doing.”
Later in the interview, Kyle gave me a tour of their department of Biomedical and Neural Engineering for those studying neurosciences. This was part of the interview I was excited to get into. The vast propensity of Kyle’s current work is on 3D printing and computational modeling of medical images I’ve heard of this new field and being a graphic designer, the concept really intrigued me.
What he was doing with 3D printing far surpassed my imagination of what can be achieved through this technology. The University has an exchange program set up at the National Hospital in Iceland helping medical professionals create 3D replicas of organs for complex surgeries. In fact, the university has had a 10 year relationship with the National Hospital and you won’t find this type or length of relationship with 3D printing anywhere else in the world.
Here is my layman’s attempt at explaining 3D printing. If a Neurosurgeon had a patient that needed brain surgery because he had a tumour, Kyle would be able to print out an exact replica of a patient’s skull with the tumour, so they can explore all nuances that may happen during their surgery before the surgery takes place. A Cardiac Surgeon can print a patient’s heart, or an Orthopedic Surgeon can print a patient’s leg. The surgeon passes on the CT scan or the MRI mappings of a patients skull, and with that data, Kyle inputs it into the 3D printer, and with a block of plastic tuned to the properties of the skull, this technology spits out, albeit rather slowly, a perfect replica of the patients brain with the tumour in it’s exact location, in a solid cast structure. Surgeons can now come up with the best plan of action to perform surgeries to remove life threatening tumours.
Now listen to Kyle explaining in his own words how 3D printing works.
I got to actually see and touch a 3D skull and a heart which gave me a clearer vision of what technology can achieve. Kyle did stress that with 3D printing with all the good it’s doing in the health field, there are still aspects of it that can be used for bad. The FDA treats a 3D printed organ as a medical devise and so it has to be governed according to this. One can only imagine all the bad things this technology can be used for if put into the wrong hands. This is why in Iceland the field is very highly regulated.
From everything we talked about in our interview, it sure sounds like Kyle has an amazing opportunity to do wonders for Iceland and our World. As Kyle mentioned in the interview ” This is what drew me here, I can print the biology I’ve been learning about, I can use the medical imaging I’ve been studying in nuclear medicine.. so it’s a real cool blend.”
I spent the greater part of the morning with Kyle learning and interacting with all the amazing technologies we spoke about. I encourage you to listen in on our interview here.He’s A brilliant individual and I can only imagine the amazing things he is going to accomplish in his future. Both my assistant Sue and I wish him the best in all his fascinating life.