A Showcase for BME Design

10/24 Pratt School of Engineering

Student designs take center stage at the BME biannual event

A Showcase for BME Design

If you want to see what it takes to be a biomedical engineering student at Duke University, the BME Design Symposium is a great place to start. Held at the end of every fall and spring semester, the event gives students a chance to present their final design projects to fellow students and BME faculty. With past projects including an interactive laundry assistant, the cost-effective development of a useful microbe, and a sensitive diagnostic tool for HIV, attendees are able to see the range of innovative student-led projects being developed in Duke BME. 

“The event grows every year, and it gives stu-dents a chance to let their work shine,” says Kevin Caves, who leads numerous Duke BME design courses, including the groundbreaking Devices for People with Disabilities. “It’s always impressive to see what our students can accomplish over the course of a semester.” 

During the design symposium, faculty and students are encouraged to peruse the projects and watch demonstrations, with select BME faculty acting as judges to vote on the top designs. The most popular designs can earn metaphorical startup funds using “Tosh Bucks”––fake bills decorated with the face of BME chair Ashutosh Chilkoti––through the People’s Choice competition, and there’s a more formal judging competition awarding prizes as well.

The BME Design Symposium features work from a multitude of design courses, including Medical Device Design, Biomechanics and Vehicle Safety Engineering, Biophotonics Instrumentation, Devices for People with Disabilities, Design for the Developing World, Amps and Implant Devices, Clinical Design, and Metabolic Networks and Design. By working with faculty with diverse research, students have an opportunity to pursue projects tailored to their own interests. 

“A huge component of Duke BME is an emphasis on creating practical solutions to problems that doctors and researchers face, and it’s always fun to see the final results of our hard work at the BME Design Symposium,” says Karen Xu, a recent BME graduate. “Duke BME has given me a huge appreciation for what engineering can do for medicine, and that’s something I’m going to bring with me in my future career.”

“Our design courses give students practical experience they can benefit from when they graduate and go into careers in industry or further into academia,” says Elizabeth Bucholz, associate director of undergraduate studies for BME and the event’s organizer. “In engineering it’s not surprising when a design doesn’t work the first time, but our students have shown that they have the skills to make these innovative designs come to life.”