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BME Senior Design Projects

The Biomedial Engineering (BME) department hosted the yearly presentation of the BME capstone design student projects at the end of the Spring 2014 semester. The events is open to, and attended by, BME faculty, fellow students, affiliated clinical mentors, judges and friends of BME. Five teams of Armour College Biomedical Engineering (BME) undergraduate students presented the medical devices they designed and built for their senior design course. The yearlong course consists of two semester-long courses: Introduction to Design Concepts in Biomedical Engineering and Design Concepts in Biomedical Engineering. Both classes are supported by a grant through the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Dr. Jennifer Kang-Mieler and Dr. Derek Kamper, both Associate Professors in Armour College’s BME Department, advise the students. The goal of the courses is to have a working prototype completed by the end of the academic year.

Students have described the course as a lot of work, but the smiles that were on their faces show that it was worth every bit of effort. Dr. Kang-Mieler stated, “The class is a lot of work, but it is always the main talking point when students are on job interviews.” The immense amount of work put into the projects is apparent from the refined prototypes and polished oral presentations made by the students.

The students are allowed to assemble their own teams with the only requirement being that one member of the team has a different major than the others. This creates cross-disciplined teams that consist of designers, engineers, and law students thus allowing students to share their expertise with the team.

Dr. Kang-Mieler compared the class to San Francisco design firm IDEO. She states, “At IDEO designers are taught to immerse themselves in a problem, build prototypes for testing, and finally to refine the design.”

During the fall semester, students in Introduction to Design Concepts in Biomedical Engineering learned the best practices for designing a marketable medical device. This included the design process from the clinical problem definition through prototype and clinical testing to market readiness. During the spring semester the students in Design Concepts in Biomedical Engineering were taught the strategies and fundamental design criteria behind the development of biomedical devices. The students then began to design and build their prototype device. After working out the functionality of the prototype, the students begin to revamp their designs into a working prototype. Each of the five teams designed a product to tackle a different problem.

Beyond the classroom the students enter their projects in several contests across the country throughout the year.  This year the class brought projects to five competitions including Idea2Product (I2P) in St. Louis, MO, Beyond Traditional Boarders National Undergraduate Health Design Competition at Rice University in Houston, TX, American Society for Artificial Internal Organs (ASAIO) Student Design Competition in Washington, DC, Center for Integration of Medicine and Innovative Technology (CIMIT), BMEStart, and NCIIA-BMEIdea.

Each of the five teams designed  a product to tackle a different problem:


Team: Yi-Liang Chen, Alka Prasad, Andrew Orr, and Cecile Tassone

Clinical mentor: Dr. Mike Ujiki (NorthShore University Health System).

Competitions: Center for Integration of Medicine and Innovative Technology (CIMIT)

One problem facing surgeons is the lack of a realistic way for them to practice their techniques. This can lead to complications during surgery or even the death of a patient. This group sought to develop a simulation device that will allow surgical trainees to develop and refine their surgical techniques before they get into the operating room.

Melli BEE

Team: Christen Deanes, Chris Barth, Dheeraj Charles, and Qing Wang

Clinical mentor: Ms. Sarah Blenner (Director of the Center for Diabetes Research and Policy, IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law).

Competitions: Idea2Product

For children suffering with Type I diabetes, it is very important that they monitor and track their blood sugar. This can be very difficult given the carefree nature of young children. In order to increase the independence of students (middle school through high school) affected by Type I diabetes, the team designed a diabetes management system.  Their system improves the communication between students and their guardians, caretakers, and school administrators. The system consists of a handheld device, complimentary website, database infrastructure for easy and reliable means of recording and sharing data via a WiFi connection. All parties can monitor the student’s reading anytime or anywhere allowing for peace of mind in parents and the children are free to be kids.


Team: Kaela Gerald, Celeste Malfavon, Terrence Pallanti, and Margaret Miller

Clinical mentor: Dr. Mike Ujiki (NorthShore University Health System) and OR staff

Competitions: Idea2Product (I2P), Beyond Traditional Boarders National Undergraduate Health Design Competition, American Society for Artificial Internal Organs (ASAIO) Student Design Competition, Center for Integration of Medicine and Innovative Technology (CIMIT)

Gauze is an important tool used in most surgeries. A common problem is gauze left in the body after surgery. This can lead to complications for the patients and lawsuits for the hospital. The current method to account for gauze used in surgery is to count it before and after the procedure, but this method is far from accurate. The team’s goal was to design gauze that can easily be identified by its high contrast color border or the use of other methods that would efficiently aid finding gauze hidden within tissue. If a piece of gauze is left in the body it could also be detected by localized magnetic detection through the use of a magnetic material embedded in the gauze. This would allow technicians to detect and remove the left-behind gauze at the end of the primary surgery avoiding taking patients back into surgery at a later time.  Developing highly detectable gauze will make surgery much safer for patients.


Team: Lindsey Sheppard, Yohannes Azeze, Aman Gabriel, Uguumur Burentugs, and Kamari Patrick

Clinical mentor: Dr. George Hornby (Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago).

Competitions: Center for Integration of Medicine and Innovative Technology (CIMIT)

Rehabilitation therapists treating spinal cord injuries have a need for smart devices that respond to patient performance and provide them feedback on their progress. The BioMotive team designed an external attachment for a standard elliptical machine to assist rehabilitative gait training for patients with spinal cord injury. The device’s external motor will automatically adjust speed according to patient performance based on how much force a patient is applying to the movement. A visual display shows the movements of the patient’s legs. This allows a patient with little or no feeling in their legs to better visualize what movements they are making. When the device senses the patient is making progress, the difficulty of the exercise is increased. This provides the patient with a therapy program that is customized in real time based on their abilities. The device promotes progress while providing the patient and the therapist important metrics about how the patient is responding the therapy program. The team completed this work as a continuation of a 2012-2013 project.


Team: Nicole Niewenhuis, (Lisa) Michelle Pope, Collin Jewett, Elizabeth English, and Jacob Decker

Clinical mentor: Kimberly Eberhardt Muir, MS, OTR/L (Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago).

Competitions:Idea2Product, Center for Integration of Medicine and Innovative Technology (CIMIT)

Physical therapy can be very mundane and a lot of hard work. This can easily turn people away from therapy when attempting to regain abilities after serious injury. The ManuTech team developed a rehabilitation device tailored specifically for patients with spinal cord injury seeking therapy to regain their basic hand functions. The group focused on creating a device to rehabilitate the pinching function, although their idea could be applied to almost any piece of rehabilitation equipment. Their device combines one-button computer games with therapy devices to incentivize therapy and make it more entertaining for the patient. Therapists will benefit from this device because it collects metrics that can be used to track the progress of a patient. Their product can make going to physical therapy more enjoyable and productive. The team has furthered the work of a 2012-2013 project.