Like many young boys, Steven Boyd toiled the days away, building model cars and airplanes. In high school, his teacher gave him a book on pyrotechnics; then he learned to blow up those precious models. Now, as an associate professor at the University of Calgary’s department of mechanical and manufacturing engineering, Boyd is blowing up images of bones. He does this with a CT Scanner (one of only three high-resolution machines in Canada), studying 3D bone images to measure bone strength.
Since joining the university in 2002, Boyd has focused his research on osteoporosis, a degenerative bone disease. He has also been instructing an undergraduate course on the mechanics of materials to second-year engineering students.
Ironically, during his second year as an engineering student, Boyd was on the verge of dropping out. “Building bridges just isn’t my thing,” he says. “I wanted to deal with people.” Fortunately for Boyd, he connected with a
biomechanist who got him hooked on biomedical engineering. The two sciences – medicine and engineering – go hand-in-hand, particularly when it comes to bones, he says. “If you want to find out why something breaks down, like bones, that’s an engineering problem.”
In 2001, Boyd did his postdoctoral fellowship in biomedical engineering at the prestigious Swiss Federal Institute of Technology. “It was the lab to go to worldwide,” he says, adding that living in Zurich allowed him to hike and ski in the Alps.
At 38, Boyd is quite accomplished: he has published 29 journal papers, developed a graduate course and received several teaching excellence awards. But he isn’t quite sure where he’s headed from here.
“Part of the fun is not planning everything in my future,” he says. “Who knows where I will land?”
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