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Work experience

Oct 2001Present

Engineering Professional IV, Global R&D, Advanced Materials

Kinetic Concepts, Inc.

Senior Engineer, Advanced Materials, Global R&D (March 2008-present).  Mechanobiology specialist, developing Finite Element Analysis models of soft tissue - dressing interactions for Prevena, BPS Mastopexy, VATR, and Colonnade projects.  Developing high fidelity FEA model of Strattice-breast interaction for BPS Mastopexy project.  Developing methods for and evaluating mechanical behavior of soft-tissue analogs for use in product development.  Continued development of NPT 3D cell culture system and support of in vitro studies of mechanobiology under NPT.  Project lead on development of micropatterned tissue interface material (Colonnade) concept, prototypes, pilot in vivo study, and histological analysis to elucidate mechanical MOA of NPT at the micrometer scale.  MicroCT analysis of VATR Spine in vivo studies.  Developing methods for correlating histological and radiological 3D image datasets for evaluation of osteogenisis.  Developing novel method for virtual mechanical testing of osteogenesis connectivity.

Senior Engineer, Global R&D, VAC Research (Aug 2003 - March 2008): Project manager on in vitro and in silico studies, and lead author on 3 publications. Translated 3D cell culture bioreactor system components from custom made to injection molded parts for scale-up of experiments.

Biomedical Engineer, R&D (July 2002-Aug 2003): Project manager for VAC Heel Dressing commercialization, from concept through production (patent app.10/895,700).  Technical consultant for regulatory, intellectual property, and competitive product evaluation initiatives

Sustaining Engineer, R&D (Oct 2001-June 2002): Investigated and resolved functional design issues with VAC Therapy units, supported new product development. Conducted quality pareto analysis and reporting.

Jan 2001Oct 2001

Associate Engineer, Manufacturing Science Research Center

Sony Semiconductor Company of America

Developed requirement and specification documents a subset of the MES database of wafer processing steps.

Systems Engineer, Automation Group (June 1999 - Jan 2001): Software development for semiconductor processing equipment communication with MES, Y2K due diligence, developed cross-platform database interfaces; using C, C++, UNIX, SED, AWK, SECS-II, grapheq; development and rollout of new MES GUI.

Device Engineer II, Fab 1A Device Engineering (Oct 1997-May 1999): Investigated defect sources in CMOS microchip production with optical, SEM, and FIB imaging tools.

May 1997Aug 1997

Special Project Engineer

Lifequest Medical

Mechanical assessment, redesign, and testing of luer fitting for cannula for laparoscopic surgery.

Feb 1995Apr 1997

Engineer; Manager, Project Engineering


Development of a commercializable prototype of a novel hand-held device for quantitative measurement of the stiffness of articular cartilage in arthroscopic surgery (US patent 5,904,658) for start-up company. Developed software V&V, and other elements of FDA 510k submission.  

Oct 1991Aug 1992

Engineering Specialist

Swearingen Engineering and Technology

Designed forward cargo hatch door, tail section structural modification, and manual flight control cable guide way for SJ30 6-passenger jet.  Developed and directed static load tests for tail section.


May 1985Present

Bachelor of Science

University of Texas at San Antonio

Senior Design Project: Real-time vibration data acquisition and user-interface for rotating machinery bench model.

Aug 2008Present



Joint Graduate Program in Biomedical Engineering

Courses completed

BME 6903 Biomaterials

BME 6993 Biomaterials and Cell Signaling

BME 6803 Biomechanics I

Dec 1994

Master of Science

University of Texas at San Antonio

Thesis: Development of a Hydrostatic Pressure Apparatus and Technique to Measure the Intrinsic Compressibility of Osteoblast-like Cells

Additional Experience

Unisys                                                                                Houston, TX

Systems Engineer, Shuttle Mission Simulator (July 1990-Oct 1991): Responsible for enhancements, and debugging of life-support gas model software for the Spacelab Simulator at JSC for space shuttle missions STS-35, 40, and 42.

Mangold Engineering                                                        Lytle, TX

Stress Analyst (1987-1989): Conducted primary structures stress analysis for small aircraft.  Designed on-board deployment system for FLIR. (Part-time contract work)

The Dee Howard Company                                                San Antonio, TX

Lead Engineer, Primary Structures Group (1986-1988): Supervised staff of 4-8 engineers and designers in structural modifications to Boeing 747 aircraft fuselage interior and cargo bay.

Primary Structures Engineer (1985-1986): Designed structural and mechanical systems for customized Boeing 747, including 3-level passenger elevator and powered self-deploying airstair with wheelchair lift for foreign head-of-state.

Associate Engineer (summer intern 1983, 1984): Designed modifications to HVAC and other systems for interior modification of a Boeing 747 aircraft.


Licensed Professional Engineer (1992-present) Texas State Board of Registration for Professional Engineers

Member, Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine Society (TERMIS), 1997-present.  Member, IEEE EMBS.  Member, International Society of Biomechanics.  Member, ASME.

Publications and Presentations

R. Wilkes, Y. Zhao, K. Cunningham, K. Kieswetter, and B. Haridas. 3D Strain Measurement in Soft Tissue: Demonstration of a Novel Inverse Finite Element Model Algorithm On MicroCT Images of a Tissue Phantom Exposed to Negative Pressure Wound Therapy. Journal of the Mechanical Behavior of Biomedical Materials, 2 (2009) 272-287, DOI:10.1016/j-jmbbm.2008.10.006.

R. Wilkes, Y. Zhao, K. Kieswetter, and B. Haridas, Effects of Dressing Type on 3D Tissue Microdeformations During Negative Pressure Wound Therapy: A Computational Study. J. Biomech. Eng. 131, 031012 (2009), DOI:10.1115/1.2947358

Wilkes RP, McNulty AK, Zhao Y, Feeley TD, Haridas B, Schmidt MA, Kieswetter K (Gordon Research Conference: Signal Transduction in Engineered Extracellular Matrices, 2008) Mechanotransduction via V.A.C.® Therapy: Micro-Strain Investigations In Vitro and In Silico.

Robert P. Wilkes, Amy K. McNulty, Teri D. Feeley, Marisa A. Schmidt, Kris Kieswetter. Bioreactor for Application of Subatmospheric Pressure to Three-Dimensional Cell Culture. Tissue Engineering. December 2007, 13(12): 3003-3010. doi:10.1089/ten.2007.0036.

Wilkes RP (South Texas Technology Management / Kinetic Concepts Research Networking Showcase, 2008) The Biomechanics of V.A.C.® Therapy.

Wilkes RP (IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society Technical Meeting, May 2008) Micromechanostimulation of Wound Healing: In Vitro and In Silico Models of V.A.C.® Therapy.

Wilkes RP, McNulty AK, and Kieswetter K (Symposium on Advanced Wound Care Meeting, 2006) Novel Technique for Application of Localized Negative Pressure in a 3-D Cell Culture.

Wilkes RP, Kilpadi DV, Spranger IR, and Raynor WVA (2nd World Union of Wound Healing Societies' Meeting, 2004) Steady-State Fluid Pressure Distribution in Uniaxially Compressed, Permeable, Saturated Foams Commonly used for Negative Pressure Wound Therapy.

Wilkes, RP and Athanasiou, KA (1996). The intrinsic compressibility of osteoblast-like cells, Tissue Engineering, Volume 2, Number 3, p. 167-181.

Wilkes, RP (1994). Development of a hydrostatic pressure apparatus and technique to measure the intrinsic compressibility of osteoblast-like cells, MS Thesis, University of Texas at San Antonio.

Wilkes RP and Athanasiou KA (Biomedical Engineering Society Annual Fall Meeting, 1994) Measurement of the Compressibility of Osteoblast-like Cells in Response to Hydrostatic Pressure.

McNulty A, Spranger I, Courage J, Green J, Wilkes R, Rycerz A. The consistent delivery of negative pressuer to wounds using reticulated, open cell foam and regulated pressure feedback, Wounds 2010;22(5):114-120.

Research Experience

Kinetic Concepts                                                               San Antonio, TX

Mentors: Kris Kieswetter PhD, Amy McNulty PhD, Larry Swain DDS, MS.

Recently developed microCT image segmentation scheme for quantification of osteogenisis in a sheep spine model (VATR-spine) and a statistical approach for evaluation of 3D structural data (Larry Swain).

Developed a high-fidelity dermal tissue finite element model of dressing-skin mechanical interaction.  Developing image analysis algorithms for quantification of human dermal fibroblasts cytoskeletal, nuclear, and focal adhesion colocalization and morphology in 2D cultures subjected to dynamic biaxial strain regimes (ImagePro, ImageJ, VBA, Java). (Kieswetter and McNulty)

Project manager on in vitro and in silico studies, and lead author on several publications. Developed finite element models of dressing/soft-tissue interaction at macroscopic and microscopic scales using nonlinear constitutive models with large deflection (Abaqus/Explicit, Amira, VBA). Applied statistical methods to bench, in vitro, and in silico data using ANOVA (JMP). (Kieswetter and McNulty)

Evaluation, procurement, and protocol development for mechanical test equipment, fluorescent and SEM microscopes, and image analysis software.  Developed several novel apparatus for characterization of dressing mechanical behavior.  Developed a bioreactor for subatmospheric 3D culture (SolidWorks), and a second-generation injection molded version.  Supervised interns in Capstone project to develop a pneumatic control system for cytomechanics studies (LabView). (Kieswetter and McNulty)

University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, Orthopaedic Research

Advisors: Vic Sylvia, PhD, David Dean, PhD.

Currently enrolled in Doctoral Biomedical Engineering program.  Anticipated research proposal will be related to tissue regeration work at KCI.

University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, Orthopaedic Biomechanics Research Lab

Advisor: Kyriacos Athanasiou                                             San Antonio, TX

Conducted cellular biomechanics research. Developed novel apparatus for optical sectioning of osteoblasts under hydrostatic compression.  Culture and fluorescent labeling of cells, microscopy, and z-stack 3D reconstruction (Sept 1993-Jan 1995).


Academic: Tau Beta Pi

Industry: R&D Top Performer 2003, 2005; Mentor award 2005