SWE Distinguished New Engineer

Julia Alspaugh


For outstanding technical contributions to patient-specific instruments; for dedicated service to her community; and for advancing SWE’s mission through her efforts to demonstrate leadership by example.

Julia Alspaugh is a senior staff engineer in the digital research and development department of Stryker’s Foot and Ankle Business Unit. In the past eight years, she has worked on instruments for total ankle replacement surgery, specializing in patient-specific, 3D-printed surgical guides and digital pre-operative navigation. She is responsible for new product development and technical customer communications and contributes to manufacturing operations, while also conducting formal reviews of her teammates’ quality control work.

In addition to designing patient-specific instruments based on arthritic anatomy, Alspaugh was on a team that developed instruments for the first total ankle revision arthroplasty system, Invision®, for use in more extreme anatomic situations when a prior surgery or implant has failed. Subsequently, she was also on the team that designed the first patient-specific instruments for revision arthroplasty in any joint — a major milestone in orthopaedics. She and the team designed surface matching instruments, Prophecy®, that guarantee an accurate and precise fit, regardless of material (only bone, bone with metal or cement) and extent of disease. During development, Alspaugh was independently responsible for leading tables at cadaver labs with surgeons, gathering the required data for validation of the results, and completing a statistical analysis of the accuracy of implantation using the instruments. Due in part to her efforts, these products received U.S. Food and Drug Administration clearance and were quickly adopted by customers.

Further contributions made by Alspaugh include leading hands-on and didactic training for surgeons on Stryker’s total ankle portfolio, representing the company at technical conferences, leading product complaints investigations as a subject matter expert, and mentoring junior engineers on both the complaints process and the team’s communication guidelines for customers. To date she has submitted seven patent applications to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and has contributed to more than 1,200 surgical cases for total ankle replacement.

Alspaugh joined SWE as a student at Virginia Tech and is a charter member of the SWE Memphis Section. She has served as secretary, president, and treasurer for SWE Memphis and was the section’s Featured Engineer during Discover E: Engineers Week in 2020. At the Society level, Alspaugh serves on the awards and recognition committee and as FY23 senate secretary.

She is active in her community with the New Memphis Institute and the Community Foundation’s GiVE 365 philanthropy and grant review program. She helped steer the foundation’s Equity through Access grant for communities of color, and Protecting Communities, which addresses the trauma of violence and engaging in violence reduction.

Alspaugh holds a B.S. in mechanical engineering and a B.A. in French from Virginia Tech and an M.S. in mechanical engineering from Purdue. She lives in Memphis, Tennessee, with her husband, Peter, and pet snake, Pythagoras, and enjoys bird watching, hiking, and cooking.