BME/ME/EE/CompE  Projects Proposed 2007

Projects marked with a strikethrough have been taken.  If you are interested in them, you may wish to see if the current team needs a new member...  Suggested majors for each project are indicated in red...  Students looking for team members are indicated in red text with yellow highlight.  The design faculty member who solicited this project is indicated thus:  King,  Barnett or Dozier.  This is the first person, generally, that you should also contact when interested in a project.  Please do not approach project sponsors one at a time if you have a group interested in the project.

All students please note:  The collegiate inventors competition (sponsored by the USPTO) is held each year (2007 will be posted) please see for details.  Consider entering this contest this coming Spring.  Also note that there is a National Scholar Award for Workplace Innovation and Design which any major can enter.  See for details.  See also for an NCIIA/BMES/Industry sponsored design competition.  See also for a student materials design competition.  See also  to enter the sixth annual Emhart "Create the Future" Design Contest, featuring a top prize of $20,000 or a 2007 hybrid car.  See also at for another competition.  We are 2 for 2 in the RESNA Student Design Competition (see ) for projects under Dr. Richter.

contact information/project description
1.  Mark Richter, MAX-Mobility  King

1.  Cross slope compensation for wheelchairs – Sidewalks and roads are typically sloped to the side to facilitate drainage of water to the gutter. While this feature is important to prevent water pooling and erosion, it poses a challenge to manual wheelchair users. As a wheelchair moves along a cross slope, it is pulled in the direction of the slope. As a result, wheelchair users have to continually push harder on the downhill handrim to keep moving straight ahead. The proposed project will develop a novel cross slope compensation system that will allow a wheelchair user to maintain a straight heading while on a cross slope without having to exert more effort than that required for a non-sloped surface.

Taken by Alex Abraham (BME), Marc Moore (BME) , David Dar (BME)

 ( if interested.  Need a ME

2.  Instrumented wheel for wheelchair propulsion assessment – Manual wheelchair users are at considerable risk of developing upper extremity overuse injuries. Various attributes of wheelchair propulsion such as push cadence and handrim loading have been associated with the risk of injury and efforts are underway to reduce that risk by training users to alter their propulsion technique. This project will develop a low-cost instrumented wheel that can be used to provide real-time propulsion biofeedback for assessment and training.

BME+EE+ME  BME Andy Cramer will put together a team..., one more at least needed

 3.  Dynamic wheelchair footrest – Wheelchair users are at risk of developing pressure ulcers which can be fatal if not caught early and properly treated. There are numerous technically advanced seat cushions available that aim to minimize peak pressure under the ischeal tuberocities by distributing it across the entire seat surface. One of the factors that can affect the effectiveness of pressure distribution is the support of the lower legs by the footrest. If the footrest is adjusted too high, the backs of the thighs will not touch the cushion thereby increasing pressure under the ischeal tuberocities, This project will develop a dynamic footrest that will provided an optimal level of lower leg support and will be adaptable to variations in length required due to choice of footwear.

 4.  Smart anti-tip system for manual wheelchairs – Manual wheelchairs are typically equipped with anti-tip bars that prevent the wheelchair from tipping over backwards and injuring the user. Anti-tip bars protrude from the rear of the wheelchair frame and hover a few inches off the ground. Unfortunately most active wheelchair users remove their anti-tip bars as soon as they get their wheelchairs home. This is because anti-tip bars limit the mobility of the user, by either preventing intentional balanced wheelies or by catching on uneven ground, causing the wheelchair to lose traction. The proposed project will develop a smart system that selectively engages to prevent accidental tipping while preserving the mobility of the active user.

Harrison Lamons' Nick Burjek, Austin Dirks, TBA

 5.  Upper limb prosthetic adaptation – This project will modify an upper limb prosthetic for an active 9-year old boy. The client has two foreshortened arms with limited use of elbows and fingers. He has been fitted with an upper limb prosthetic to assist with independent dressing and reaching tasks. Unfortunately, he is unable to engage in many of the activities that he was previously able to do, such as typing. As a result, he needs to take the prosthetic on and off during the day, which can not be done independently. This project will redesign the socket interface of his prosthetic to allow him to independently take it on and off for select tasks.

Taken by Cassie Edwards, Meagan Williams, Amy Thomas, Meg Stevenson

2.  Jamie Pope, MS,RD, Professor of Nutrition in Nursing, Vanderbilt University School of Nursing; ( )Jay Groves, PhD, Exercise Physiologist and Director, Kim Dayani Center, Vanderbilt University Medical Center; Charles Matthews, PhD, Vanderbilt Institute for Medicine and Public Health  King

We are interested in working with a team of engineering students in the development of devices that contribute to the expenditure of energy by the individual within the context of the daily routine, rather than engineering designed to conserve energy.  The numerous challenges and consequences of the obesity epidemic call for innovative and effective ways to increase our ability to expend energy in a wider range of physical environments, particularly those in which we spend a great deal of time in purely sedentary pursuits.    Recent research examining vertical workstations has received media attention as a way to increase energy expenditure within the context of a typical work day.     The links below provide an overview of the technology and the research.    Dr. Matthews has created his own version of a treadmill desk in his office in the Vanderbilt Institute for Medicine and Public Health.    Initially, we would like to refine and improve upon the design of this vertical workstation and then potentially link the treadmill component to the computer to store mileage and other data, provide feedback and motivational messages, and/or be able to adjust speed/incline with the computer mouse rather than via the treadmill control panel.    Ideally, but not mandatory, interested students would have some background in the biological/medical/exercise sciences and/or have taken or are enrolled in nutrition courses offered through the School of Nursing, N231a/N231b.

See also: at for a related competition  - PKing)  all majors
3.  Kem Hinton, Tuck Hinton Architects, 254-4100  King

I am principal with a 20-person architectural design firm here in Nashville.  Our work ranges from private homes and schools to museums and memorials.  We designed the renovation/expansion of Buttrick Hall next door to your building, so we’re familiar with your facilities.  But not that familiar with the excellent engineering research you undertake. We’ve often pondered ideas for lighting, particularly the use of natural light and concepts for “piping” light into buildings…..since we aren’t engineers, we know little on the technical aspects.  A while back, I read of VU’s advances in LED lighting.  It occurs that we might suggest some type of joint research endeavor.  George (Cook) suggested that our firm might formulate some type of project for your seniors with their “capstone design” assignment...   ME? 

4.  Patrick Harris [] , Pharmasys, Inc.     King

1.  Healthcare, Barcoding and Safety – Beyond Medication

Point-of-care bedside bar code verification systems have proven to significantly reduce medication errors as a means of administering medications to patients.  There are several limitations to these systems but endless possibilities beyond medication management and administration verification using barcode, RFID, infrared or related automated technology which is the platform of our current system.  The purpose of this design project will include expanding the capabilities and usage of the PharmaSys eMEDSTM system – a system provided by PharmaSys for the administration of medications based on barcode technology.  These application extensions and objectives of the design project include, but are not limited to:

  • Extending the functionality of the system to a hospital’s Emergency Department and Operating Room.
  • Using automated technology for blood transfusion and breast milk verification.
  • Incorporating the integration of smart pumps with the system.
  • Provide a means of automatic and validated specimen collection at the point-of-care.
  • Integrate with existing eMEDSTM system and continue the design legacy and platform technology it provides.
  • Provide a workflow tool to improve communication and increase productivity.
  • Be user-friendly for caregivers.

This project is a unique opportunity to help provide a current eMEDSTM hospital customer with expanded functionality that could set eMEDSTM and the hospital client apart from their competitors. 

Ross Morrison & Stuart Reasons want this project, they need at least one EECE to join them...

 2.  Designing a Computerized Physician Order Entry (CPOE) System

 Medication errors and patient safety are at the forefront of public concern.  According to a study conducted by the Institute of Medicine, medical errors affect an estimated 1.5 million people, killing several thousand each year.  Additionally, medical errors cost an estimated $1.5 billion dollars annually in the US.  Approximately 39% of all medical errors occur during the prescribing of medicine to patients.   The process of electronic entry of physician instructions and prescription ordering as the first part of closing the loop (electronically integrating physician orders, pharmacy management, and bedside barcode verification systems) of medication administration for the treatment of patients can significantly reduce or eliminate medication errors.    

The major objectives of this design project include, but are not limited to: 

  • Include software, hardware and other digitized apparatus to develop and execute the CPOE system.
  • Reflect the requirements and constraints of the current hospital or care center workflow and environment.
  • Consider doctors, pharmacists, nurses, and IT professionals when making design decisions.
  • Be adaptable to a number of settings and should interface with an organization’s existing architecture;
  • Be intuitive for end-users.

Mark Rafalko (BME) wants one EE and one CE to join him on this project/ ( )

 3.  Designing a Medication Unit-Dosage Repackaging Facility

In recent years, preventing medical errors has been a major initiative of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  The FDA has strongly recommended a bar code system to reduce medication errors associated with administration.  With the push for incorporation of barcode point-of-care systems in hospitals and other care facilities, unit-dosing of medication is an integral part of the complete solution.  However, very few medications are currently unit-dosed with a quality barcode.  A cost-effective solution for many hospitals and healthcare facilities is to outsource the unit-dosing of medications.  The purpose of this design project is to design a repackaging facility and system to provide PharmaSys’ clients with this service. 

The major objectives of this design project include, but are not limited to:

  • Include processes for repackaging of medications into unit-dose form including: solid orals, liquids, syringes, creams, gels, cups, and any other specialty packaging.
  • Use Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) standards.
  • Provide a quality control and assurance process to the system design.
  • Consider scope and breath of services, ordering and receiving, order turn-around time, etc.
  • Research and implement system equipment and labor requirements.
  • Be compliant with regulatory affairs.
BME + CompE + EE
5.  Dr. Tom Rauth, Dr. Mike Holzman, Dr. Bob Roselli  (contact Roselli or ) King

"Mike Holzman and I would like to submit phase II of our pressure directed Lap-Band adjustment for a senior design project this year.  The project seemed to be a success last year and we would love to see it continue.

 Students interested in this project: - see the poster in the BME hallway, interview Dr. Rauth...

We are excited about continuing this project.  Let us know if there is an interested group."

6.  M. Chambers, Earl Swensson Associates, 329-9445  King
Placeholder for 2007 possible projects - process diagrams, healthcare facilities...
7.  D. Milan, urology  King
Placeholder for a computer program for data display for urology
8.  NISH National Scholar Award Program  ( King

The NISH has a yearly competition (first prize $10,000) for "workplace innovation and design" to assist people with disabilities to be more productive in certain industries.  Email the above to obtain application materials.  Prototypes will be due by April 11, 2008. 

 I am willing to be the campus sponsor for any NISH project that students are interested in pursuing...

The ground rules for entry (assuming you complete a project and wish to compete) may be found here <> .

 NISH Contact:  Kevin Ryan, Rehabilitation Engineer 678-581-7296

 There are 2 ways that students have approached projects for our competition.  One is to work with a person and design something that allows them to do a new job, or be more productive at their current job.  The second is to look at a job and make it easier for a group of people to perform that job.  Either approach would be equally effective for our competition.

 Agencies collaborating with NISH are (locally):

 Goodwill Industries of Middle Tennessee, Inc. <>
1015 Herman Street
Nashville, TN 37208-3143

Contact person:  Mike Eisenbraun who is the production manager.  615-742-4151.

Mike had the idea to modify an auto baler they use for clothes.

Currently the control panel is at a standing height, and they would like to make it so a person in a wheel chair could operate it.  On the surface that sounds straight forward, but I suspect it might be a pretty good project.  Mike is an engineer and seemed to have an interest in the working with Vanderbilt.  My gut tells me he would work well with the students to make adjustments if that ended up to be too easy.

New Horizons Corp <>
 5221 Harding Place Road
Nashville TN 37217-2901
 615 - 360-8595

 Contact:  Tommy Hall  615 - 360-8595

 There are several assembly/packaging jobs at New Horizons that could be the focus of a project.

 *     Folding Inserts for boxes for Wilson Sporting Goods - starting with a flat cardboard insert and bending, folding, and inserting tabs to form it into shape.

       *     There is a high volume insert (over 400K per month) that people with limited cognitive skill and dexterity can assemble, but their productivity could be greatly improved by well designed work flow, workstation and  fixtures.

      *     The lower volume insert (about 5K per month) is a more difficult insert to assemble is currently performed by temporary workers because it is too complicated for the people New Horizons is serving.  A well designed project could fix that.

*     Assemble a cardboard matrix (500 to 600 units per week).  This job involves tearing cardboard inserts (along perforated lines), interlocking pieces of the cardboard to form a matrix, dipping the matrix in glue and putting on a cardboard square.

*     Put a bag inside a bag - This job involves inserting a bubble wrap envelope into a second bubble wrap envelope, placing the envelopes into a box.   This job is being performed by a gentleman who has very limited use on one of his arms.  A design that would increase his productivity is needed.

*     Other tasks are:

      *     Remove a football from a bag

      *     Inflate footballs at air fill station

      *     Assemble football display boxes

      *     Labeling

      *     Running shrink wrap machine

      *     Put face mask on a football helmet

      *     Tape on card board box for international paper, Wide and narrow strips of tape that need to be cut to length

      *     Collating inserts for Brochures for Gideon

any major

9.  NASA  King
The web site: lists current senior design projects that might be supported by NASA through space grants.  Other projects will be considered on a case-by-case basis.  See the web site and our local space grant office for more information.  any major
10.  Emily Mowry ( ) - Hart Freeland Roberts - Jim Easter, HFR Design,   King

Topic:             Designing the Ideal Medical/Surgical Patient Room

 Description:  Designing healthcare facilities is a unique and challenging process which requires a working knowledge of the flow and functions of different departments in healthcare-delivery.  With the advancement of technology, hospitals are becoming larger and more complex.  In this project, we want to create a program layout for the ideal patient room layout, with an emphasis of design for private accommodation.  There are a number of key features to keep in mind, for example:  the universal room concept,  patient lifts for obesity factors, bed orientation, toilet/shower factors, asepsis, views into and out of the room, and the over arching issue of MOCK UP BEFORE DESIGN BEGINS.  Students will build a case for the room layout and possibly work with local vendors to construct a mock up room.  Case studies will be conducted with actual HFR clients.  We require at least one student with biomedical research experience and at least one student who has a basic knowledge of AutoCAD (or who is a quick learner in similar applications). 

 Preferred Student Composition: 3 to 4 students with at least 2 BME’s  final/posted 9/17/2007

I have a more detailed proposal as of 10/1/2007 FYI
Taken by BMEs Elizabeth Copenhaver, Elizabeth Salmon, Kelsey Hoffman, Marti Chance

11.  John Enderle, University of Connecticut, King
The three design challenges from the Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Accessible Medical Instrumentation for this 2007-8 academic year are posted here, the rules are posted here.

If accepted on one of these projects, there is up to $2000 in reimbursement for prototype construction costs.  You must enter the competition, where First prize: $1000, Second prize: $750, Third prize: $500.  There can also be $500 for registration/travel to present a paper accepted at a major conference, such as RESNA or BMES.
BME + ME + EE + CompE

12. Robert A. Malkin, Duke University & Engineering World Health  ( King

Click below an advanced copy of the “senior projects that matter” projects list for EWH for 2007-2008.It does not look like I will have a complete list of project ready for 2 more weeks.The ones that are attached are in the list, but there will be more.  Also, the reimbursement procedures may change slightly. I thought I’d send this to you anyway, as I know your classes are starting.  Check out the web site for the complete list in about two weeks.

 Engineering World Health projects for 2007-2008  EE + BME + ME

13.  Dr. Prasad Shastri ( ) King  
Tissue stimulator

current BME students Ankeet Choxi and Steven Emmanuel are on this project  BME

14.  Dr. Mike Holzman x35163 King  
1.  I probably have a smaller project if someone is interested. I have a concept for a device to assist in hernia surgery.  Not very exciting, but a need for someone who understands Nitinol or another pliable material.  I am looking to create an instrument which can straighten to be place in the abdomen and then return to an oval or circular configuration.  Ultimately we will need to straighten it out again to remove it.  The addition of magnetic material would assist in positioning.  I am happy to talk with any of the students if they are interested. 

2.  Endoluminal Closure Device: In recent years, there has been a growing enthusiasm for what is being referred to as "natural orifice transluminal endoscopic surgery (NOTES)."  This technique involves taking the currently utilized flexible endoscopes and performing common diseases which have been traditionally done via transabdominal operations (laparotomy or laparoscopy). The potential benefit of NOTES is the ability to perform a completely incisionless operation. There are currently individuals performing solid organ (appendix, gallbladder & spleen) surgery via a "transgastric approach." This entails making a gastrotomy (hole made in the stomach) to gain access to the peritoneal cavity.  Continuation of + ME

15. Dr. Bryan Cotton 6-0189 Trauma/Critical Care    King
RO1 funded project for the capture & analysis of SaO2 & BP data in multiple hospital environments:   Brief description: Among patients who survive severe illness and prolonged Intensive Care Unit (ICU) stays, acute neurological impairment (most notable in the form of delirium) and long-term cognitive decline are the greatest threats to a meaningful recovery. Patients with ICU-associated delirium are not only at a higher risk for mortality, consume more resources, and have longer and more expensive hospital stays, but this population is at an increased likelihood of developing long-term cognitive impairment (LTCI). Millions of elderly ICU survivors (30-80%) will develop an acquired LTCI which has been demonstrated to be as debilitating as mild/moderate dementia and may last several years.

Potentially modifiable risk factors for the development of ICU-associated delirium include sleep disturbances and prolonged exposure to potent sedatives (routinely administered to patients requiring ventilator support). Other risk factors likely exist, but to date, have not been critically evaluated. Previously, hypoxia and hypotension have been shown to significantly worsen outcomes in patients with traumatic brain injury. More importantly, the cumulative depth and duration of these secondary insults appears to better correlates with outcome. As well, hypoxia and hypotension have been suggested by some leaders in the field of cognitive dysfunction as likely contributing factors to the development of both delirium and LTCI.  

The ICU Brain Dysfunction Group at Vanderbilt University has recently been awarded an RO1 grant from the National Institute of Health. The proposed investigation is to be an observational cohort study that will enroll 800 adults requiring mechanical ventilation in medical and surgical ICUs. This will involve four different hospitals in the Nashville area. Currently, the ability and means to collect continuous data for hypoxic (pulse oximetry or oxygen saturation, SaO2) and hypotensive (systolic blood pressure, SBP) events at these four hospitals is inadequate at best. More importantly, none of the four hospitals share the same electronic methods for data collection and all have varying abilities to do so.

Our group is currently in need of (1) a dedicated evaluation of the ability of each hospital to capture the previously mentioned data points (Sao2 and SBP), (2) creation of a mechanism to electronically capture these variables on a continuous basis (every 5-10 minutes), and (3) successful implementation of such a program for data capture at all four hospitals for all 800 patients during the study period.

Goals: develop a system for the continuous (every 5-10 minutes) electronic data capture of SaO2 and SBP at all four hospitals.

Success will be defined as: the electronic capture of continuous data on all 800 patients during the study period.

Hospitals: Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Middle Tennessee VA Medical Center, St. Thomas Hospital, and Metro-General Hospital.

See for earlier work.     BME + CompE + EE

16.  Dr. Frank Carroll ( King

1.- Measuring heavy metal drug concentrations in tumors, vis-ā-vis treatment planning for a  new type of radiotherapy called Auger cascade radiotherapy.            A totally new type of radiotherapy (Auger cascade radiotherapy) is being developed to treat and cure cancers with 3-5 X less radiation than that now used, significantly reducing the side effects and future complication from treatment. In order to design the best customized plan for each patient, treatment planning software requires some input as to the concentration of the target material (metal atoms in drugs adherent to tumor DNA) toward which a monochromatic beam of X-rays will be directed. This project would entail the use of imaging methods, phantoms and computer simulations to establish a method most useful in the clinical setting.

 2.- Partial volume 3-D imaging and machine vision motion control for automated tumor centering using one monochromatic beam for simultaneous imaging and treatment.   All radiation treatments suffer from motion of the targeted tumor during the actual beam-on treatment. Imaging of the tumor is restricted to imaging long before or immediately prior to insertion of the patient into the treatment device. The tumor can move relative to where it was before therapy began. In the best of all worlds, the tumor needs to be “watched” while the beam is on, assuring it remains in the therapy beam. This project proposes to develop a method for 3-dimensionally imaging the tumor with the therapy beam, while simultaneously treating the tumor and “instantaneously” repositioning the tumor at beam center using machine-vision feedback techniques.

Anis A Rahim [] an ME is interested in this project and would like any BME student to contact him.

All majors  
17.  Mark Wallace ( King
Here’s a brief description of a design project for my lab (you’ll note that it is very similar to last year’s project – this is a large and ongoing undertaking  ( - password protected)):

The project will consist of the creation of an integrated environment for the delivery of visual, auditory and tactile sensory stimuli to test multisensory perceptual and neural processes. The ultimate goal of the project is to create a virtual multisensory environment in which the delivery of sensory stimuli can be manipulated so as to alter the spatial, temporal and other physical relationships of the different sensory stimuli. The project will entail both hardware and software components, and will include the design of devices for stimulus generation, as well as the construction of a user-friendly interface to control and coordinate stimulus delivery. In addition, the design must be readily adaptable to support the collection of neurophysiological and psychophysical data on established platforms.

CompE + EE + BME
18.  Dr. Anita Mahadevan-Jansen, Dr. Chris Kao  King
Continuation of - Parkinson's Disease Rigidity Quantification  ME + BME
19.  Dr. William F Walsh  ( King

Design problems in  the NICU:

1:  All patient charting by nursing is now being done directly into the computer . The nurse looks at the vitals signs on the monitor and verifies they are real and “allows” the monitor to put them into the medical record. The problem is I have no room for computers for the nurses to chart data in the patient room. They have been scribbling the vital signs on paper and whatever they have handy and going to a computer to verify the data entry. I would like to physically link a computer to the monitor to enable immediate entry of data without using portable, space consuming, and expensive portable computers. I have prototype assembled in the NICU. Student work would be an evaluation of the ergonomics and workflow acceptability of having this large device in the patient care area, Would the nurse have to stand, can she raise and lower the dual monitor system, does it get in the way of patient care or does it make workflow better??

John Fonge and Brandy Scott are working on this project........

2.  A second project will be to identify data entry needs from devices that are  connected to the patient and have outputs but do not link directly to the HED data entry system. This would require working directly with the hospital HED team to develop software and hardware connections to permit ventilators and IV pumps to communicate directly to the bedside computer.

BME + CompE + EE
20. Sanjay M Athavale, MD, Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery Barnett
... I am a PGY-1 resident in Otolaryngology.  I am trying to develop a novel Eustachian tube  device to be used in the treatment of Eustachian tube dysfunction. I was hoping to get the help of an ME graduate or undergraduate student for this project.


21.  Russ Waitman, x63335 [] (Medical Informatics)   King
Are you interested in improving patient care?   Are you considering attending medical/pharmacy school or a degree in biomedical informatics?  Professor Russ Waitman leads the Computerized Provider Order Entry (CPOE) system at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.  The system, WizOrder, is also available commercially from McKesson Corporation as "Horizon Expert Orders".  This project, it's commercialization and the ongoing partnership are the largest financial technology transfer Vanderbilt University has made to date.  This system provides 24/7 decision support to every inpatient and Emergency Room visit at VUMC (over 6 million orders on over 120,000 cases per year).  There are many projects: ranging from those database oriented infrastructure, C++ application programming, Web development, and projects which center around building decision support modules for clinicians.  Examples of decision support projects that need to be accomplished and expanded in the coming year are:
Decision support to improve treatment for patients with Community Acquired Pneumonia.  Would involve working closely with pulmonologists and emergency room physicians, pharmacists, and nurses.
Decision support to alert physicians to changes in renal function in patients on nephrotoxic drugs.  Would probably be piloted in the pediatric environment and involve working with pediatric pharmacists and nephrologists.
These projects required structured thinking but advanced programming experience is not required.  Past projects have been accomplished by medical students as well as National Library of Medicine undergraduate trainees.  C programming and LINUX experience is a plus.  A successful project will involve understanding CPOE and the clinical problem, building the decision support modules, then studying their impact in the Spring, and writing a paper for submission to a national conference or journal . 
   good programmers - any major 
22.  Chris Janetopoulos (Biological Sciences), John Wikswo (VIIBRE)  King  
Microfluidic System for Galvanotaxis Measurements
The goal of the project is to develop a microfluidic device capable of studying cellular response, specifically motility, in an electrical field. A current, cumbersome macro-scale device employs large beakers of media, agar bridges, and a petri dish cell area, but the study of galvanotaxis has gone mostly unexplored due to the associated experimental difficulties. The size of the device, its inability to fit well on a microscope, the use of considerable volumes of media, and the high voltage requirements are all disadvantages that our new device aims to address. The device must be capable of generating a controllable, homogenous electric field across a well-defined viewing area while also preventing the development of any pH or ion gradients across the cells.
To address these problems we will develop a microfluidic device using photolithography and microfabrication techniques. The use of agar to control pH or ion gradients will hopefully be avoided through the use of perfusion to continually replenish the media in the cell area and near the electrodes. The reduced dimensions of this design should also drastically reduce the required applied voltage to a safe level (<50 V). A successful device addressing these concerns will simplify experiments and truly open up the field of galvanotaxis. Our device aims to become a marketable standard and reliable platform for further experiment-specific modifications.

Taken by Students: Devin Henson and Arunan Skandarajah 

23.  NCIIA Sustainable Vision Grants  (  )  King  

We are delighted to announce that, with support from The Lemelson Foundation, the NCIIA will again be offering a Sustainable Vision grants competition this fall. These grants address the basic human needs of those living in poverty. Programs must include technology entrepreneurship, a strong potential for commercialization, and have a clear social impact. The proposal deadline is October 19, 2007. New guidelines and an RFP will be posted later this month.

Posted 8/7/07  any major
24.  Bapsi  Chakravarthy, MD, Residency Director, Radiation Oncology, VUMC, 2-2555,  King  

1.  The field of radiation oncology is a multidisciplinary specialty aimed at treating cancer patients and involves clinicians, physicists, therapists, and basic scientists.  A critical component of this process is the analysis of diagnostic imaging for proper localization of tumor and normal organ volumes both spatially and temporally.  This is essential in the design of radiation treatment portals.  Currently, a novel technique termed respiratory gating is being used to track tumor motion during the respiratory cycle.  Unfortunately, at present, tumor motion can only be visualized at the CT scanner during the time of simulation for treatment planning.  This project entails designing a program whereby CT image files (DICOMs) could be imported, a tumor or organ volume defined, and motion of the defined volume tracked at any desktop computer.

2. Expression of tumor markers in cancer cells allows for diagnosis, risk stratification/prognosis, and treatment planning.  This project entails developing a program to process images obtained from samples (both tissue and cells) which have been assessed for tumor markers and output quantitative and localization data.  Specifically, the program should be able to determine the absolute levels of tumor markers within cells as well as the absolute levels of the markers within each compartment of cells (ie. nucleus vs. cytoplasm).  Such a program will help eliminate the current subjective nature of human interpretation of tumor marker staining and thus make this process more standardized.

BME + EE + CompE

25.  Paul H. King King  
We have a demonstration 1/10 scale bed/frame system built to demonstrate the motions necessary to allow a patient to get on a specially constructed bed mounted on a frame system.  The patient then will be moved to a scanning position & "spun" in order to obtain a 3-D view of one breast via a monochromatic x-ray system. The system currently has a pneumatic system that did not work when first demonstrated.   At a minimum, this pneumatic system needs to be replaced with a motor/gear system in order to properly demonstrate the mechanics desired.   A fully operational demonstration system is desired.

ME + EE + BME +CompE

26.  John Wikswo (VIBRE) and David Cliffel (Chemistry) King  
Development of Microfluidic Glucose Sensors
Glucose consumption is a crucial component of cellular metabolism. Current cell culture techniques utilize large Petri dishes or culture flasks containing millions of cells and several milliliters or more of media, for which there are macroscopic instruments for measuring glucose. However, cellular function occurs on a much smaller scale, and many aspects are best studied by looking at a few hundred cells, which are also favored for economic reasons. Perfusion experiments involving such small numbers of cells present a number of challenges in the measurement in real-time of glucose concentrations. The Pine Instrument Company has created a screen printed platinum electrode which is inexpensive and effective when used in beakers.  The goal of this project is to interface a microfluidic channel system to this screen printed electrode.  The end product would be able to continuously record glucose levels of a perfusion experiment for ~24 hours while calibrating itself when necessary due to electrochemical drift.

Taken by Jason McGill, Sean Mercado, Kristen Jevsevar, and Rebecca Tarrant.
27.  John Wikswo; Wasif Khan; Kevin Seale   King  

A Microfluidic Pump System for Blood Cell Separation                  

The goal of this project is to create a microfluidic device with a novel way of pumping and separating white blood cells for analysis.  Currently, microfluidic devices of this nature employ a forward pumping system consisting of multiple syringe pumps.  This makes it significantly difficult to regulate wide variety of inputs.

To address this problem we will develop a device which pulls instead of pushes the blood using negative pressure at the end of the capillary tubules.  The result will be a highly regulated, single pressure source of flow control.

Taken by BMEs Jeff Turner; Scott Darby; Eric Chung; Casey Reynolds 
28.  Ray Booker, Operations Manager Simulation Technologies Program VUMC 62538   King  

We have several projects that involve making our Laerdal SimMan human patient simulator more realistic. These projects require dedication and an ability to think outside the box. These are good projects for BMEšs, EEšs with medical knowledge, or MEs

1)   Creation of movable eyes/eyelids and facial expressions:  This project would require lots of design and controls. We would like the creation of a moveable face or, at minimum, moveable eyelids for our SimMan.

Other manikins from different manufacturers have movable eyelids, which is extremely helpful in helping students determine whether the patient is awake or asleep. When this is combined with movable eyes, however, it would create a unique level of realism not found in other models. Ideally the project would be completed in such a way as to allow a future addition of motion tracking, perhaps with a video camera in the eye, so as to selectively track persons in the room. Additionally, different degrees of facial expression would also be desirable.

2)   Creation of simulator eyes to allow eye exam:Create realistic eyes with pupils that could be changed and retinas that can be examined. Standalone eye exam simulators exist, as well as high fidelity manikin simulators that show variable pupil response, but incorporating both these functionalities simultaneously into a full manikin simulator will require ingenuity.

 3)   Creation of a Swan-Ganz Catheter Simulator: This project is to design a way to create a realistic Swan-Ganz waveform that mimics what a real Swan-Ganz transducer would do in a heart. It will require knowledge of transducers and creation of waveforms. The transducer would go into our SimMan's central line insertion module (that is now a part of our simulator courtesy of a Senoir Design Project 2 years ago) but will need to display waveforms as though it is going through a real heart. 1 EE 1 CmpE and 1 BME recommended.

 4)   Remote Arterial Pulsator: This is a motor that will squeeze a bulb connector to our CentraLineMan or our arterial line arm.  It needs to be able to pulsate the bulb to different heart rates and should be able to be controlled by a remote. This project will require knowledge of motors and wireless communication. Other pumping technologies are possible solutions, but we wish to keep the cost for this project low. 1EE/CMPE 2 BME recommended.

5)   Creation of a RFID vest: One of the problems with our simulator is the fact that heart and lung sounds greatly diminish as the stethoscope is taken away from the speakers located in the manikin's chest wall. This project would require the creation of a "vest" that contains RFID chips, or some other technology so that an electronic stethoscope recognizes each RFID tag and plays a sound based on it so that there is no diminished sounds, and the sounds on the chest are more realistic. The vest would enable the simulator to act more human by allowing the student to place the stethoscope anywhere and hear appropriate sound for that location.  This project is recommended for 1 BME, 1 EE, and 1 CompE.Taken by Emad Elsamadicy, Anas Othman (EE) ,Azreena Shukri (EE)

29.  Paul King, acting as liaison for an external company...  King  

Description of project 1:

In current gastric banding systems the band is adjusted by adding or subtracting finite volumes of saline to achieve what is considered to be an "optimal adjustment". Due to variations from patient to patient, and changes in anatomy brought on by weight loss, a physician is required to adjust a patient’s band numerous times over the course of treatment in an attempt to maintain this optimal level of restriction.

In order to improve the patient experience (by reducing the number of needle-sticks and office visits) and provide for more consistent weight loss, it is desirable to provide for a gastric band system that adjusts itself. While a number of electromechanical systems are described in the journal and patent literature, the scope of this project is limited purely to non-electrically powered systems. To this end, the overall objective of the project is to:

􀂾 Develop a mechanism or method to transfer fluid as a function of the pressure measured in the band

􀂾 Include the ability to adjust set point pressure measured in the band.


Demonstrated understanding of gastric banding procedure and associated physiology through research and discussions with project sponsors

• Proposal to be approved by the sponsor

• Detailed concepts that summarize the ideas generated, including sketches, schematics, or block diagrams

• Decision matrix to select top concept

• Concept review with sponsors and student design team; there is a potential for an additional round of iteration should the concepts require additional refinement

• Develop fundamental equations and principles guiding the operation of selected concept

• Embody design using CAD

• Provide initial feasibility analysis and testing of potential concepts (breadboards, prototypes)

This project is primarily ME in nature, thus a team of 2 MEs, 1 BME and 1 EECE + 1 is recommended, see Dr. King for additional information

Description of project2:

In current gastric banding systems the band is adjusted by adding or subtracting finite volumes of saline to achieve what is considered to be an "optimal adjustment". Due to variations from patient to patient, and changes in anatomy brought on by weight loss, a physician is required to adjust a patient’s band numerous times over the course of treatment in an attempt to maintain this optimal level of restriction.

In order to improve the patient experience (by reducing the number of needle-sticks and office visits) and provide for more consistent weight loss, it is desirable to provide for a gastric band system that adjusts itself. The scope of this project includes an electrically powered implantable system as follows:

􀂾 Develop an electrically powered system to transfer fluid as a function of the pressure measured in the band.


Demonstrated understanding of gastric banding procedure and associated physiology through research and discussions with project sponsors

• Proposal to be approved by the sponsor

• Detailed concepts that summarize the ideas generated, including sketches, schematics, or block diagrams

• Decision matrix to select top concept

• Concept review with sponsors and student design team; there is a potential for an additional round of iteration should the concepts require additional refinement

• Develop fundamental equations and principles guiding the operation of selected concept

• Embody design using CAD

• Provide initial feasibility analysis and testing of potential concepts (breadboards, prototypes)

.This project is primarily electromechanical in nature, thus a team of 1 MEs, 1 BME and 2 EECE + 1 is recommended, see Dr. King for additional information, note that this is an iteration on the above...

A trade secret/IP agreement will need to be signed...

One team has formed (group 12) to tackle one or both of these topics...Brian Reis, Erin Crosby (ME), Andrew Dickerman (ME), Joshua Mabasa

30  Advisor TBA

I have constructed an acoustic musical instrument.  The problem at hand is designing the software for the electro-mechanical control of the twenty solenoids which strike its strings.  Fine tuning of its mechanical components and finishing work are necessary for its completion.  A secondary component to the project involves the marketing of the instrument and a demonstration of its capabilities to local representatives of the music industry.  The ideal team would consist of four students:

1)  Mechanical Engineer: For the of optimization of mechanical components and the overall quality of the instruments voice

2)  Electrical Engineer:  For the development or adaptation of software and circuitry to control the instrument in such a way as to provide an musician with a simple yet free-form way of composing rhythms or scores.

3)  Any other engineering discipline:  An expert in music composition, theory, or practice for the development of a musical demonstration of the instruments innovative capabilities.

4)  Any other engineering discipline:  A person to lead a marketing campaign for culmination of the project:  a sales package targeted toward local representatives of the music industry.

Deliverables include:

1)  Complete and functional musical instrument.
2)  Demonstration or recording of a demonstration of the capabilities of the instrument.
3)  Written assessment of the instruments unique capabilities for an audience of music industry representatives.

 I am eager to meet with you to discuss this project in more detail.  Please contact me ASAP if interested

ME Noah Walcutt is seeking three others to work with. <> .  Recent photos: <

31. "Mark D. Does" < King  

The project I have is to design and built a prototype small animal monitoring/maintenance system that we can use in the CSAI (for MRI and other instruments).

 The system needs the following:

 -respiratory monitoring, EKG or pulse monitoring, temperature monitoring,
-real time display of these signal on a laptop
-feedback control for temperature control with a warm air fan

 We currently have systems that do this, from SA instruments, but the cost is high ($27,000) and the product quality is modest, maybe even low. If we had a complete, simple design, including circuits and software, we could probably get these made for much less cost and possibly sell systems to other small animal imaging sites.

32.Groves, Jay [jay.groves@Vanderbilt.Edu ]and Paul King King  
The Dayani Center is planning a new facility at the 100 Oaks Mall area, there needs to be some advance planning to build a "green" facility.  Part of the planning may involve the use of waste heat to warm the pool water.  Other considerations involve the design of workplace facilities for the new clinics at 100 Oaks...

See : “Nonexercise activity thermogenesis- librating the life-force’. J. A. Levine. J Intern Med 2007; 262:273-287. for additional information.  You may wish to merge this work with project 2 above...

33.  Veran Medical Technologies Christopher Lee [ King  

 Veran is an early stage life science company (local) developing a platform of devices and technologies that enable the minimally invasive detection and treatment of disease.  Veran aims to increase efficacy and efficiency while reducing co-morbidity risk in minimally invasive therapies.


1. Design articulated mounting system for electromagnetic tracking apparatus.  System must be capable of mating with existing portable procedure cart, free standing MR-compatible stand, and collapsible setup for traveling configuration.

 2. Design a 'phantom' or pegboard for calibration of 3d electromagnetic tracking system compatible for use with MRI and CT imaging techniques.

 Each project is Primarily ME with one BME per group.

34  Dr. Aaron Fitzsimmons 

            Our project proposal involves working with Dr. Aaron Fitzsimmons on a vacuum pump used to create suction on a lower limb prosthetic. The basic idea is that the electric pump creates a vacuum in a sleeve around the nub and creates a force upward to keep the prosthetic on the lower limb. The pump is automatic and has a sensor that measures the negative pressure differential and turns the pump back on when this differential becomes too low to provide an adequate force. While the vacuum pump is effective in completing this task, there are several design flaws and areas that could be improved.

            There were three main problems that we discussed with Dr. Fitzsimmons. The first two problems were more involved in the aesthetic aspect of the device itself. Many of the patients attempt to conceal the fact that they have a prosthetic limb. The size of the vacuum pump and the noise emitted by the vacuum pump makes this somewhat hard to do at this point. Ideally Dr. Fitzsimmons would like us to design something small enough to be implanted in the prosthetic itself or produce less noise when it automatically turns on. When the device automatically turns on in a public place and creates a noise this can sometimes create an embarrassing situation for the patient themselves. Ultimately if the patient isn't comfortable with the vacuum pump they won't turn it on and this will lead to misuse of the prosthetic itself. The other problem is more of a design flaw that could lead to the misuse of the device. When the device is first put on if the patient does not create a tight seal with the surface of the prosthetic the vacuum pump will create a very strong suction against the patient's skin. This is a problem for a many prosthetic patients because many of them have poor circulation in their lower extremities. As a result they will not feel this suction and it will eventually lead to bruising and injury that could lead to infection. In many cases this results in further required surgery and removal of tissue for the patient. For the project we would want to do concentrate on one of these aspects to improve the system.

Taken by BMEs Adam Banks & Rick Semones.  They may wish to have additional members...
35 TBA, New Horizons (Nashville TN) contact/project TBA
This material has been placed under project #8 as of 9/28/2007 UPDATE
36.  Theresa Plummer, Belmont University, Occupational Therapy
One or two projects forthcoming the first week of October
37.  TBA
A professor with MS has asked for some assistance - I am waiting for his write-up...
38.  Dr. Stokes Peebles - &  Marty Moore (

"Luciferase Reporter System for Respiratory Syncytial Virus Detection and Quantification: Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) is the leading cause of respiratory failure and viral death in infants. There is currently no licensed vaccine. The standard method for quantification of infectious RSV is the viral plaque assay.  The plaque assay is a labor and materials intensive, time-consuming technique.  The proposed project will develop a novel assay based on firefly luciferase. Cells will be engineered to express the firefly luciferase gene and emit bioluminescence when infected specifically with RSV. This luciferase RSV reporter system will detect and quantify infectious RSV and require less labor, materials, and time than the plaque assay, thereby enhancing RSV basic science and vaccine research. Future directions of this project include writing code to quickly calculate viral titers based on the amount of bioluminescence detected and the development of a luciferase-transgenic mouse to further aid RSV vaccine research."

Taken by Melanie Aston (BME), Monica Deterding (BME), Matt Huckabee (BME), and Michael Chi (BME).
39.  Teresa Plummer [] Occupational Therapist Vanderbilt Children's hospital

Needs:  1) a walker that can be used both on level floor surfaces and stairs

2) an accurate way to measure joint range of motion of the ankle or wrist

3) a device that gives feedback to tell client when head is in an upright position

4) a way to measure eye movement range of motion

5) a device that goes in front of a power wheelchair to tell client how close they are to an object (wall) I am happy to meet with you to provide any explanation that may be necessary.
40   EECE based projects as of 10/4/2007 - Dozier
Books-a-million/Net Central
Campus for Human Development
Powerplus Projector
Qualifacts (2)
Square D (3)
Vanderbilt Formula SAE team
Vanderbilt Polymorph Gripper
Gastric Band (via BME)


FULL Details as of 10/19/2007 may be found here.............

Details will be posted in OAK ASAP (next week).  In the meantime check with any EE or CompE.

41. ME based projects Barnett

ME 242/ME 243

ME-Based Projects – 2007-2008

  Here is the project list.  The rocket-aerodynamics projects are closed, but the ME Aircraft Aerodynamics course is a pre-requisite for this one, so that should not be a problem for EE/CompE’s or BME’s.

1. Nissan North America – Automobile manufacturing – Improvements or additions to body and chassis assembly-line methods

 2. VIU Motorsports – Formula SAE race car design

 3. Metro-Nashville Water Treatment Plant/VU Plant Operations – Feasibility study of use of sludge residue (solid) from water treatment as an alternative fuel source for power production

 4. NASA/VU Aerospace Club – Model Rocket Design  (closed)

 5. Denso Manufacturing Tennessee – Manufacture of automotive electromechanical components (starters, alternators, instruments) - project will involve quality-assurance evaluation and testing of components

 6. Army Missile and Rocket Research Center/SSAI, Inc. – Aerodynamics of Rocket-deployable Reconaissance UAV  (closed)

7. NASA/VU-Intelligent Robotics Lab – Hardware (and software?) development for autonomous robots

 8. DARPA/VU Center for Intelligent Mechatronics – Robot or Robot-component Design

 9. Lexmark, Inc. – Ink-Jet Printer Manufacturing – Fluid Mechanical Testing of ink-jet printer components

 10. GAF Materials, Inc. – Fiberglass Manufacturing – Process Improvements, Recycling of Industrial Materials

 11. Trane, Inc.  Industrial and Commercial Air Conditioner Manufacturing - Design and Implementation of HVAC quality-assurance testing equipment

 12. Vanderbilt Center for Computing in Research and Education (VCCRE) – HVAC and Thermal Modeling for cooling of multiple advanced-computer systems

 13. Standard Candy Corp. – Manufacturing of Candy and Snack Food Products – Assembly-line process improvements

 14. NASA/Marshall Space Flight Center – Robotic Task Planning for Extraterrestrial Exploration

 15. Nashville Adventure Science Center – Exhibit-Design for a hands-on style Science and Technology Museum illustrating some Engineering Principle or Principles

Received & Posted 10/10/2007 ............P King

42. Mike Slowey <>  Pathology

Subject: programming project

This project is mainly construction of a relational database that will calculate and track certain health care costs for use in a hospital environment. It also needs to be compatible with php so that it can be accessed via the web.