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BME Design Symposium Highlights Student Projects

Event showcased projects ranging from an early HIV detection test to a intravesicular device to cool the brain

Since its inception in the spring of 2017, the BME Design Symposium has marked the end of a successful semester of design work, giving students a chance to present their final projects to faculty and fellow biomedical engineering students at Duke University.

The spring 2018 event was no exception, with projects ranging from an early HIV detection test to an automated robotic cystoscope that could use machine learning to map potential tumors for removal and biopsy.

Following a series of two-minute formal presentations from each team, students and faculty perused the work and watched demonstrations. This gave them a chance to ask follow-up questions and fund their favorite designs in the form of “Tosh Bucks”—fake bills decorated with the face of Ashutosh Chilkoti, department chair of BME. During this time, select BME professors also acted as judges to determine which teams showcased the best design. 

While the open poster session had been a staple at each symposium, this year’s event also included an Escape Room—a new feature created by the BME Design Fellows that required participants to solve a series of BME-related puzzles to exit a room. With the theme of escaping a hospital lockdown after a viral outbreak, students had to work with various prototyping tools like 3D printed materials and circuit breadboards to solve each puzzle to escape.

“We developed this idea after going to a real escape room event,” says Kevin Caves, one of the BME professors who leads the Design Fellows program. “It gave us a chance to do something really different than previous years while building on their practical engineering experience, and I think the students had fun with it.”

Ultimately, Brian Chan, Adam Davidovich, Neil Gupta and Alim Ladha received first place for their project, “CBTech,” where they demonstrated how they could easily and cheaply produce cannabinoids, which are FDA approved to treat nausea caused by chemotherapy and appetite loss from HIV/AIDS medications. Second place went to the team of Danielle Dawes, Stephanie Hatz and Jillian Udell for their “DECI Counting Assistant,” a device that assists employees at the Durham Exchange Club Industries in counting and bagging 20 dye chips. Students and faculty selected “A Breath of Fresh Air” project for the People’s Choice award. The respiratory muscle training device, created by Diana Arguijo, Sarah Jacobs, Emelina Vienneau and Kayla-Wright Freeman, was developed to fully automate and incorporate both inspiratory and expiratory training capabilities into a single device. Finally, the judges awarded Erin Emmons, Hannah Grossman and Souhailia Noor with the "Graduate Award." Their project, titled "Ergo_scopy," aimed to improve the ergonimics of a GI endoscope by adding an attachment to the dial. 

The symposium, which included work from courses taught by Joseph Izatt, Mike Lynch, Paolo Maccarini, Robert Malkin and Mark Palmeri, illustrated the expanding focus on innovative design within the BME department and celebrated the practical design experience students cultivated during their time at Duke.

“This event gives us a chance to see what the students have been working on all semester,” said Elizabeth Bucholz, associate director of undergraduate studies in BME. “It really gives them a chance to show off, and we’re happy to see it grow every year.”

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