Surgical Robots in Space: NASA, Nebraska, and the Final Frontier

Dr. Shane Farritor, Chief Technology Officer at Virtual Incision and Professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Love the episode? Leave a review on your favorite podcast platform!


In this exciting episode of The TechEd Podcast, host Matt Kirchner sits down with Dr. Shane Farritor, an innovator at the intersection of space exploration and medical technology. Discover how cutting-edge surgical robots are revolutionizing abdominal surgery, and paving the way for high-tech medical assistance in space.

In this episode, you'll hear:

  • How a space-enthused innovator found a niche in surgical robots
  • How robots are being used in surgery today, and why Virtual Incision's small robots are making a big impact in the medical field
  • The incredible story of a surgical robot sent to space, and how surgeons on earth performed simulated surgery on the space station
  • What robots can mean for the future of telesurgery

Whether you're an educator in STEM, an employer in the med-tech sector, or simply fascinated by the convergence of space technology and medical innovation, this episode is packed with valuable insights and forward-thinking discussions. Join us as we navigate the final frontier of surgical robotics and envision the future of healthcare.

3 Big Takeaways from this episode:

  1. Small robots are revolutionizing surgery: Surgical robots have been around for decades, but Virtual Incision's miniature robots open a new door to boundless applications, like the ability to send these robots into space. They enable surgeons on earth to aid those in space - you can imagine the implications this could have for long-duration space missions and potential future extraterrestrial exploration.
  2. Students can drive innovation in engineering: Experiential learning opportunities, such as internships at NASA, allow students to gain hands-on experience and develop new skills that are difficult to convey in a classroom. Shane Farritor discusses the importance of engineering students to get hands-on experiences prior to graduation and how his graduate and undergraduate students have worked on Virtual Incision's projects.
  3. Telesurgery will make a major positive impact on the future of medicine: The advancement of telesurgery is paving the way for remote medical procedures, expanding access to expert surgical care. This innovation has the potential to overcome geographical barriers and provide life-saving treatments to underserved populations.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Connect with Virtual Incision:

LinkedIn  |  Twitter (X)  |  Facebook


What our listeners are saying

The #1 podcast in TechEd

This podcast is a great resource to keep up with all the exciting changes in the world of manufacturing and technology. Get key insight from industry leaders from the Midwest and around the globe that you won’t find anywhere else. A must listen for anyone interested in how technology is changing the way businesses operate.

The pulse of Industry 4.0

This podcast has its fingers on the pulse of Industry 4.0, and Matt K. is a phenomenal guide, traversing the complexities of manufacturing and education in one forum. A+ work all around!


I find Matt's approach to be very compelling. He brings both perspectives, industry AND education. He doesn't hold back on what he thinks is important...

New and Exciting Content With Every Episode

I really enjoy listening to this podcast when I'm driving or have a free moment. Each episode brings a new guest with a fresh and exciting perspective of both education and the workforce!

I needed this podcast back when I was in High School!

Such great content that deserves more attention at all level of education. I wish I heard some of these episodes when I was navigating my own career path. Incredible guests, with incredible messages to share. Keep up the great work!

Inspiring topics featuring inspiring leaders

I’ve listened to most of your weekly podcasts and enjoy listening to the stories and conversations that feature business and education leaders from Wisconsin. Kudos to you for creating a platform that presents ideas and success stories that are important to Career and Technical Education teachers and leaders.

Best Career and TechEd Podcast

There are a lot of education podcasts out there. This is the only one that really focuses on bringing together voices from inside AND outside education and focuses specifically on STEM and Career/Tech Ed. This is a great podcast for anyone in education and also for anyone who employs STEM or skilled-trades talent in their workforce.

Filling in Gaps

This show spotlights a large and growing aspect of education that doesn’t get enough attention. Practical and technical education is a field growing exponentially. This podcast Highlights many of the facets of this diverse field.

Fantastic Topics on the Future of Industry

These podcasts are the best for learning about current and future technology. The stories are great. We need more of these interviews.