Student Projects

Team building and technical know-how.

Students in the M.Eng. in Engineering program will demonstrate their proficiency through a team-based design project. Project ideas are proposed by clients from industry, teaching hospitals, and clinicians seeking solutions to specific problems. Student teams assess the market and conduct competitive analysis, engineering design, software development, prototyping, testing and documentation of results.  Weekly or bi-weekly update meetings with clients are essential to the success of the project.  Teams are expected to self-organize their effort by assigning tasks, developing a schedule, identifying bottlenecks, and gathering resources.

Working with the clients, the teams are expected to gain insights to help them implement their idea. During the project, the teams may request guidance from program faculty and may take field trips to the client’s location. Project presentations and demonstrations are delivered during a formal end-of-program event.

Here are some project examples:

(Client:  Start-up medical device company):
Wirelessly Integrated Ocular Biosensor to Monitor Ascorbic Acid Presence in Tear Film and Aqueous Humor
Hundreds of eye trauma patients are presented in the emergency department every day. The injuries of the globe can lead to severe eye defects and sometimes vision loss. If the severity of these traumas can be detected early, there can be better recovery of the eye. After these injuries are treated, postoperative monitoring of eye is very critical to check for any leaks from the anterior globe. If the leak is brisk, the patient has to be taken to the operation room. It is important to detect these leaks as soon as possible so that the vision of the patient is not affected. ­The client has developed a biosensor as a solution to this clinical need.

The principle behind the sensor is that the concentration of ascorbic acid in the aqueous humor is around 20 times the concentration of ascorbic acid in the tear film and when the barrier between them breaks due to any wound or tearing in the corneal epithelium, the concentration of ascorbic acid in the tear film spikes up. This concentration level can be detected by the sensor to get an idea about the severity of the trauma. The biosensor is designed so that when ascorbic acid binds to the enzyme on the sensor, there is a change in the interaction between the polymer and graphene platelets. This changes the electrical properties of the sensors and the change can be measured to get an idea about the injury.  The project objective was to enhance the ability of the biosensor to detect the levels of ascorbic acid.

(Client:  Regional medical hospital):
Personalized Absorbable Gastrointestinal Stents for Intestinal Fistulae and Perforations: Gastrointestinal (GI) tract perforations are relatively frequent surgical emergencies, are potentially life-threatening, and can occur from several different sources, including inflammatory conditions, iatrogenic or traumatic injuries, and obstructive etiologies. Increasing clinical findings corroborate the use of self-expandable metallic GI stents in the setting of gastric or esophageal perforations. Patients admitted to the hospital with intestinal fistulae or perforations typically face months of recovery, unlimited numbers of hospital visits and numerous surgeries that could theoretically benefit from an absorbable stent. Placement of synthetic, non-absorbable stents in the esophagus and colon via endoscopic approaches is limited to these anatomic locations as endoscopic access is required to remove the stents after healing occurs. Commercially produced stents are currently manufactured in a narrow size range of options, further limiting their applicability in other portions of the GI tract.

Initiated by a general surgeon in response to an unmet clinical need, this project objective was to develop novel translatable absorbable polymeric stent, 3D printed for accurate, anatomically personalized placement in the GI tract. In this highly multidisciplinary work, a 3D-printed stent prototype was developed from a novel material using a commercial AirWolf™ device. This functional and effective technology could offer tremendous impact for patients and healthcare providers and significantly reduce patient morbidity and mortality.

(Client:  Medical simulation and education center):
Cadaveric Perfusion Pump:
Cadaveric perfusion pumps provide unique opportunities to surgeons and doctors in training. They allow a trainee to practice a surgical procedure under as realistic conditions as is possible before heading into surgery with an actual patient. The pump perfuses a blood mimicking solution through the veins of a cadaver, creating a perfect model for a doctor to practice on.

The client, in collaboration with a regional hospital, has been working to create a perfusion pump that is able to modulate blood pressure and heart rate in order to provide an extra level of realism to the simulations run with the cardiac perfusion pump. The team’s goal was to improve upon the first generation of the client’s artificial perfusion system by making it safer, streamlined and able to accurately generate and measure rapid modulations in fluid pressure. This was done by improving the software to be more robust, improving the setup of the system to be safer and more segregated, finding a pump that is able to generate enough pressure as well as able to switch pressures quickly and integrating sensors into the code that are used to ensure the proper operation of the system as well as act as a safety check.