Duke Engineering Students Win National Design Competition

Two separate ideas developed by students in a Duke engineering design class that seeks to improve the lives of children and adults with disabilities have become winning entries in the Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America (RESNA) national design competition.

David Chong of Wheaton, Ill., and Billy Watson of Tacoma, Wash., were named winners for adapting a baseball glove with an aluminum brace and a Velcro strap to aid the catching prowess of a young boy born without a thumb.

Kyle Smith of Lafayette, Ind., and Lynn Wang of Burlingame, Calif., also won for developing a new kind of wearable arm restraint for a therapy encouraging partially paralyzed children to manipulate an impaired arm by constraining finger, hand, wrist and elbow movement in their other, normally functioning arm.

Both Duke teams were members of last fall’s Devices for People with Disabilities class session in the Pratt School of Engineering’s biomedical engineering department. The two Duke teams will join three other winning groups at RESNA’s June annual conference in Atlanta, where they will display descriptions of their work.

Three other design teams from the Duke class will present posters on their designs at the conference.

Chong, Smith and Watson are all graduating seniors, while Wang is currently enrolled in the Pratt School's Master in Engineering Management program. The People with Disabilities program now holds two semester long classes each academic year.

Smith and Wang also won a national design competition at the University of Florida for their "Constraint Induced Movement Therapy Device." Third place in that competition went to Diana Hsu, a senior from Raleigh, N.C., and Elizabeth Strautin, a senior from Mt. Olice, N.C., for their "Head and Neck Support".