BME/ME/EE/CompE  Projects Proposed 2008

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 (2008 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 seventh annual Emhart "Create the Future" Design Contest, featuring a top prize of $20,000 or a 2008 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.

1. Dr. Alisa Haushalter, Metro Public Health, 340-0407, ,  King
Best practices in public health dictates that persons with active TB receive their medications by directly observed therapy (DOT). I am interested in implementing remote, video-based DOT.

I would be interested in having a student develop a context sensitive solution to providing DOT. This would include the following components:

* Obtaining end user input

* Policy development

* Selection/recommendations on equipment

* Online tutorial

... Student(s) taking this project will be subjected to a background check...   BME&EECE

2.  Dr. Andre Churchwell, VUMC Cardiology,  65784  King
I have noticed that my Dad now 90(!) continually complains about the loss of muscle power with the attendant problem of inability to walk as far as he would like and the lack of joint stability—leading to falls and all the morbidity, mortality, and costs attendant to these events. I came up with an idea of an “exoskeleton”—the concept is that you would use geo position sensors located around the joints (see drawing, Dr. King's office) that were coupled to joint stabilizing straps on the one hand and elastic cables that could serve when aligned with a large muscle group to increase the force of motion /or power of the whole limb unit—the actual deltoid—biceps—triceps to be enhanced by parallel “cables” that would increase the entire unit’s strength. This would reduce falls and aid in more stable and longer locomotion for those elderly people who have not had strokes but simply have lost joint stability and strength.  Now 2 years later this smacks something like “Iron Man” but not exactly!. The key is as usual the doc has oversimplified the engineering challenge but it still may be possible… The other factor is costs—are there devices we can bring off the shelf’ to assists in the solution and not necessarily create a new “toy”—though I am not against this…Look forward to meeting and talking more.   (FYI  - see  ME&BME
3.  Dr. Michael Andrew Barnett, VUMC Cardiology, michael.a.barnett@Vanderbilt.Edu   King

"My name is Mike Barnett and I am one of the cardiology fellows at Vanderbilt.  I am writing because I am hoping to assemble a team of physicians and engineers to develop new cardiovascular devices in a collaborative effort between the biomedical engineering department and the cardiovascular medicine department. 

I spent the last year at the FDA in the cardiovascular devices branch working with biomedical engineers and     ( I think) I have a much better understanding of the engineering aspects of devices and how cardiovascular devices get to the European and US markets.  I also have worked with the private industry on the development of new cardiovascular devices. 

 On a broad scale --this team approach could generate ideas for new cardiovascular devices,   and hopefully spawn off other ideas/ projects.   Myself and others have ideas and "napkin" drawings for some devices already but the input/ perspective of biomedical engineers for new device ideas and product development is essential. 

I'd like to arrange a time to meet any faculty or students that you think might be interested------ "  BME&ME

4.  Dr. William Walsh, VUMC Neonatology, & Dr. Bob Galloway  King

I discussed the transducers with Dr Galloway who agreed to serve as a technical advisor for an undergraduate student. Therefore I would like to include in your possible projects the following:    Infants are frequently on continuous infusions of IV fluids and medications. When they are clothed or covered with drapes in the OR it is possible for the IV to become disconnected without being seen. I want to know if a disconnection from the patient would result in a detectable change in the infusion pressure. The project would be to use the micro pressure transducer to design a series of experiments using different infusion rates and IV catheter sizes to determine if in-line pressure detection is a feasible method to determine patency of system and detect interruption of flows. Dr Galloway will supply the pressure transducers and serve as technical advisor and Dr Walsh will provide the IV fluids, pumps catheters and clinical expertise.  BME&EECE

5.  Bernard Rousseau, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, Assistant Professor of Otolaryngology,  bernard.rousseau@Vanderbilt.Edu King

I am on faculty in the school of medicine. I’ve recently become aware of the BME Design Sequence courses you teach in Biomedical Engineering. I would be happy to be included on your list of potential advisors for student design projects in the fall. My research program focuses on the effects of vibration/mechanical forces on vocal fold wound healing & tissue regeneration.  We have many projects that might appeal to a BME student.

 The current issue of the VUMC reporter highlights some recent findings from our laboratory, titled “Bad Vibrations”:

 Here is also a link to my faculty profile:                    All majors

6.  Jay Groves, Vanderbilt Dayani Center, King 

 It is my hope that future BME Senior Design students can build upon the success of the Vertical Workstation concept that Ellen, Shawn and Elly have left us with. I will keep the prototype in my office awaiting the next group of inquisitive students. (see 2007 project 23 at  All majors

7. Teresa Plummer, MSOT, OTR, ATP Instructor, School of Occupational Therapy  King 

If anyone is interested in continuing any of the projects from last year (below) or any student specifically requests my involvement I would be happy to consider it. However, I am working on data collection for my PhD this year and may not have much availability to provide support.

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.    All majors
8.  Dr. Mark 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.

9.  Ray Booker,   King   

Vanderbilt University Biomedical Engineering Department
Vanderbilt University School of Medicine
Center for Experiential Learning and Assessment
Simulation Technologies Program


The Simulation Technologies Program (STP) trains medical students and resident physicians in the practice of medicine with the goal of improving patient safety. STP provides a safe environment to learn new physical and behavioral skills by allowing the physician to practice first on a mechanical simulator or standardized patient (SP) – a live actor – before applying these new skills toward treating an actual patient. STP goes to great lengths to mimic reality as closely as is necessary to meet the educational objectives of the particular scenario.

The simulators used in these scenarios are essentially robotic patient mannequins that look and act like real patients to the extent they have pulses, blood pressures, and other vital signs. They also can talk and breathe. While capable of quite a lot, there are many aspects of human physiology they do not replicate. In addition, there are aspects of the simulators that detract from the realism, or what is termed in simulation settings as the “suspension of disbelief”. 

Areas of Potential Collaboration:

We see the overall area of improving simulator mannequin realism as a prime area for collaboration. Specific feature sets in need of development are:

1.       Eyes. Many of our simulators have fixed, closed eyes, which can lead the physician toward a wrong diagnosis. Work was done recently to rectify this. In a recent senior design project sponsored by the Vanderbilt University Biomedical Engineering program, an innovative approach was taken to creating eye movement and eyelid closure using LCD screens as the eyes. The LCDs display 3D modeled eyes controlled through a gaming engine. The prototype will need further modification to become suitable for regular use.

Additionally, such enhancements as eyes that follow the doctor when he moves and eyes that allow an eye exam with an ophthalmoscope are feature sets we would like to add once the prototype is fully functional.  This is a project that involves interaction design, gaming, and engineering

2.       Mouth. When the mannequin speaks, the mouth doesn’t move. The simulator can open and close its mouth through pneumatics, but the process is slow to effectively simulate trismus, or lockjaw. Faster movement coordinated with phonemes could create a mouth movement in response to speech, which would greatly enhance realism.


3.       Arms. The arms have pulses and allow the insertion of IVs. There are also speakers so a manual blood pressure can be taken with a stethoscope. One of our simulators has a flexible IV arm (foam supporting surgical tubing covered by a latex skin) on one side and a hard, rigid arm on the other side containing the pneumatics and electronics for the pulses and BP. Keeping similar features but replacing the arms with jointed, moving arms would mean the patient could both have a realistic seizure as well as “point to where it hurts.” While mostly a mechanical engineering project, there are certainly elements of basic and industrial design.


4.       Laparoscopic/Open Surgery Simulation. The “holy grail” of certain types of simulation is the multi-disciplinary team training of crisis resource management. A real surgery, for instance, doesn’t involve just the surgeon, but also anesthesiologists, nurses, techs, etc., all acting as a team. In our simulated OR, we can actually provide training for the rest of the team better than the surgeon due to the fact that the “organs and tissues” on which the surgeon would be operating aren’t realistic. In fact, in most of our simulations they don’t exist at all. We would like to create an open abdomen module that could be inserted into our simulators to give the surgeon something to interact with while the scenario is unfolding. The ideal solution would involve molded organs and tissues that would have an appropriate look and feel and that could be cut and sewn upon. Then new parts could be added to replace those used in the scenario. Thus the molding and painting would need to be reasonably easy to replicate. This would be a substantial project and require significant input from the visual and industrial design areas, and perhaps mechanical engineering as well.


5.       Lung Compliance. The standard Laerdal SimMan has lungs to allow increasing airway resistance (also referred to as a decreased lung compliance) when the simulator is being ventilated. The result is all or none, which is not realistic. We have made modifications to allow an incremental decrease in compliance with mixed results. This is a mostly a mechanical engineering design project.


6.       Central Line Insertion. Large IVs in the neck or chest are termed central lines. Our simulator was modified to allow central line insertion, but the procedure is tricky as there are expensive electronics that can come in contact with water in this process. Our modification leaked and damaged our simulator’s motherboard. Failsafe systems will need to be added to prevent this in the future. A further development would be to allow the insertion of various catheters into the port and into the mannequin’s “heart”. Entering the heart would create EKG and other changes visible on the patient monitor. This would need to be tied to the depth of catheter insertion. This is a mechanical engineering and industrial design project but with elements of interaction design.


7.       VR Simulator modules. We have several virtual reality simulators that simulate endovascular surgery, laparoscopic surgery, gastroscopy and colonoscopy. These use 3D graphics and haptic (force feedback) interfaces to create realistic trainers for medical procedures. To date most of the development in this area has been proprietary. Recently a new company is claiming to be able to offer third party software development kits to allow for the creation of additional modules for use with the existing simulators. If this startup company can provide functional SDKs as promised, we would be interested in developing additional cases for our simulators. This is a software development and gaming project.

8.       Medical CAVE. This is a fascinating project, but one for which additional funding would be needed. A CAVE is an immersive virtual reality environment where projectors are directed to multiple wall surfaces of a room-sized enclosure. Participants don LCD shutter glasses for a 3D effect and would interact with the mannequins as before with the difference being the location could now be anywhere (for example, the middle of the interstate at the site of an accident with the helicopter in the background). Once constructed, further development projects would consist of creating new 3D environments.

 All majors
10.  Aaron Fitzsimmons, CP, OTR   King

1.  We are currently working on an alternative to the electrical pump for maintaining a vacuum environment for prosthetic suspension.  The benefit is having a mechanical system is simpler for the patient to use, requires less maintenance, can be exposed to various environmental elements (ie water, dirt, and mud), and is less likely to cause harm to the patient if used incorrectly.  The system is a built in space inside of the prosthesis that serves as a vacuum reservoir, or “surge tank”.  What we really need help determining from an engineering perspective is 2 things;

  1. size of the reservoir to maintain healthy level of vacuum for 8-10 hours continual wear
  2. appropriate location of the reservoir for socket integrity, cosmesis, and component adaptability.
We have some other projects we are working on and I will consult with another colleague I work with frequently to see if he has any other design projects or ideas that may be applicable   All majors


2.  PROJECT #2 -  basic prosthetic step counter system.  Important Features  required:

i.   Low cost and low maintenance are very important as we will be giving these away to patients so we can objectively monitor their status with the prosthesis.

i.  The system needs to be independent of the prosthesis so that it can be added to any type of prosthesis.  For example if we built this into one type of foot we could only use it with patients who got the        specific type of foot.

iii.  Renewable power source or simple power source that the patient could purchase locally and replace easily and conveniently   BME + EE + ME

11.  Dr. Rajnish Gupta, VUMC Anesthesiology  King 
I want to develop an interactive multimedia website (wiki fashion) for our ultrasound regional anesthesia pictures and videos.  There are several issues and concerns with it that are beyond my webdesign skills.  The design elements would include creating the web interface, creating a system of authentication and maintaining HIPAA privacy for the images/videos included and for the contributing physicians from all over the country/world, and creating a database to keep all this information.  Anyone with database skills
12.  Dr James Sheller, VUMC   King 

we have a need for a device to be designed and constructed that would monitor an adult’s respiration using electrical impedance and providing an alarm when her ventilation ceases. The patient for whom this would be used presents uniquely with breath holding as an adult.  BME&EECE

13.  Dr. Paul King & Dr. Alan B. Storrow (VUMC EM)  King

Inflatable Patient Transfer Unit:
Project Description

Lifting and transferring patients safely and effectively is a major quality and efficiency issue in the hospital and nursing home industries, and military medical operations. Patient handling tasks are considered high-risk, due to the magnitude of weight lifted, awkwardness and unpredictable nature of the load lifted (patient), and sustained awkward positions used to provide nursing care, such as bending over beds or chairs while the back is flexed. Patients also are exposed to additional injuries during lifting procedures.  We hypothesize that the use of an inflatable polyvinyl device with an attachable pump will facilitate a safe and efficient method of transferring patients. This project will support the development and testing of the Inflatable Patient Transfer Unit (IPTU).

 Project Goal

We will develop and test the Inflatable Patient Transfer Unit (IPTU). The IPTU is a lateral transfer and repositioning device. The system includes a transfer mattress and an air supply unit.

 All majors
14.  Dr. Kevin Seale (with Dr. Giorgio & perhaps Wikswo)  King

Two metering rotary nanopumps have been designed for use in microfluidic systems.  These pumps, one helical and the other planar, utilize peristaltic flow through a series of parallel channels to create low flow through microfluidic trap devices.  In the helical design, a non-cylindrical cam (0.020” diameter) is inserted into wrapped parallel channels and rotated. Compression of the channels displace a stroke volume of approximately 1 nanoliter.  In the planar design, these channels are separated by a specified thread size, bonded to a glass surface for full enclosure, and compressed from above by a threaded cam or miniature ACME threads.  For both designs, the entire system is cast in PDMS making it compatible with the other microfluidic devices up and downstream of the pump.  The potential for simple fabrication, low cost, and compatibility with other devices makes these nanopumps very useful in biological experiments, and ultimately clinical applications.  A senior design team is needed to help with fabrication of these pumps and incorporation with a larger device used for point-of-care diagnostics for early detection of breast cancer. The team will receive training in photolithography, replica microfabrication, AutoCAD. Ideally the team will be a mix of Biomedical Engineers and Mechanical Engineers.


15. Matt Moore –, Sole Supports, Inc., 7674 Highway 7, Lyles, TN 37098, 931.670.6111 x197  King

1.  Reusable Casting Apparatus: Sole Supports is a custom foot orthotics manufacturer located in Lyles, TN.  Our business model involves a practitioner taking a cast of a patient’s foot in a foam medium, mailing the foam to us for processing and then returning an unused foam box back to the practitioner for future business.  This model is quickly becoming prohibitive in that shipping costs are increasing at an alarming rate.  The goal of this project is to research and develop a reusable casting medium.

At first glance, this seems to be a simple problem to solve as there are several products in the market to scan the foot with ease.  Our casting technique, and therefore our orthotic, is unique in that the foot is placed in the foam in a way to capture the maximal amount of arch height as possible for that foot.  This translates into an orthotic that is full-contact, calibrated and truly custom.  Our gait-referenced casting technique should be considered a constraint of the project.

Once a system is developed that can capture the cast with accuracy, it will then be scanned with a 3D digitizer and sent to our lab via the internet.  The casting apparatus will then need to be able to regain its pre-cast shape in preparation for a new patient.  This model will eliminate the need to ship foam to the practitioner as well as them sending it back to us; reducing our annual shipping costs by over $500,000.


Leg length discrepancies (LLD’s) are considered by many clinical practitioners to be the root of many ankle, knee, hip and spinal problems.
Most authorities claim that deficiencies of greater than inch (6mm) are clinically significant (1;2), although some sources state that differences as little as 4 mm are significant (3). Subotnick (4) states that because of the threefold increase in ground reactive forces with running, lifts should be used with inequalities greater than 1/8 inch (3mm).
There are many methods employed to measure the leg length inequalities, and much debate exists over the accuracy and reliability of these measures. Generally, the most accurate methods are thought to be x-ray and CT scan, however these methods expose the patient to ionizing radiation and come with a certain degree of clinical impracticality. There are a variety of additional methods involving supine observation (patient lying on table), and weight bearing standing evaluation. Gait analysis during running or walking activities can also be used to infer information about the clinical sequelae of the LLD. Weight bearing analysis has the advantage of providing feedback in the functional position that the patient would experience any pathology related to the LLD.

To create a measurement device enabling a weight bearing, double leg stance measurement of clinical leg length discrepancies.

As part of the measuring device, a process for correcting the LLD by raising or lowering limbs unilaterally.
As part of the measuring device, an objective measure of the LLD. This could involve the instrumented correlation of anatomical landmarks such as the medial malleoli (ankles), tibial plateaus (knees), greater trochanters (hips), anterior and posterior superior iliac spines and iliac crests (pelvis), and scoliosis (spine) (5,6).
As part of the measuring device, a method for calculating the weight bearing differential between the right and left foot.
The possibility for the future incorporation of a method for capturing a corrected position of the foot (yet to be determined) on the surface of the platform.
The concept is elucidated as follows. Two individual weight scales with the ability to raise or lower independently while he patient is standing on them. A framework incorporating a laser level with the ability to raise or lower to illustrate the congruity of bilateral anatomical landmarks.

Reference List

(1) Cyriax J. Testbook of Orthopedic Medicine. 5th Ed ed. London: Baillare, Tyndall and Cassell, 1969.
(2) Taillard W. Lumbar Spine and Leg Length Inequality. Acta Orthop Belg 1969; 35:601.
(3) Martens M, Backaert M. Chronic leg pain in athletes due to a recurrent compartment syndrome. Am J Sports Med 1984; 12:148-151.
(4) Subotnick S. Case History of unilateral short leg with athletic overuse injury. J Am Podiatry Assoc 1980; 5:255-256.
(5) Michaud TC. Foot Orthoses and Other Forms of Conservative Foot Care. Baltimore: Williams & Wilkins, 1993.
(6) Hertling D, Kessler R. Management of Common Musculoskeletal Disorders. 2nd ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott Company, 1990.            All majors

16,  Josh Smith [ ]  Pioneer Medical, Nashville TN  King

Pioneer Technology Wound Therapy Drain:  Pioneer has been in development of an advanced wound healing system for the past few years which combines the benefits of Negative Pressure Wound Therapy (NPWT) as well as the benefits of the local delivery of pressurized oxygen and other possible fluids.  Traditionally NPWT and topical oxygen have been applied independently to wounds.  The Pioneer system combines these two therapies into one therapy regiment, where the two therapies are continuously alternated in a cyclical fashion.  Applying these two therapies to a common wound site present varying challenges given the removal of fluids via negative pressure and the administering of fluid via positive pressure.   


Pioneer is interested in developing a disposable drain, extending from the supply device to the patient, with these general features:

         The drain will need a minimum of 2 channels; one for removing fluid from the wound site and one for delivering fluid to the wound site. 

         Because of the local static hyperbaric pressures between NPWT cycles, a pneumatic pressure regulating mechanism will be necessary to ensure bandage integrity and patient safety during the hyperbaric phase. 

         Additionally, the drain may possibly be positioned anywhere on a patient and therefore must be of a low profile to eliminate any possible pressure points.

17.  James Easter (&John Cole) HFR Design  King

I'd suggest the students consider a study that applies their academic work to EVIDENCE BASED ENGINEERING DESIGN. This is a term flying around in our world of architecture and it sure falls into the engineering arena.  The term has "clinical roots" but is now being applied to technology, buildings and planning to a certain degree.  I'd suggest the study also tie into a university "site specific" arena and would propose it relate to design and planning of external projects away from the campus.  Let's use the 100 Oaks Mall retrofit and conversion as a case study and work with Cyril Stewart, et al to help determine the scope.  Essentially the questions are;  1)  Why off campus satellites, what was the evidence  2)  How to develop off campus and with whom,  3) How to organize the best team and finally;  4)  What would be a good functional program for such a development?  I can help the students define the No. 4 part since that's my business.  Outcomes for EBD 1)  Understand Concept applied to technology,  2)  Discuss one aspect of "satellite clinics" at 100 Oaks suitable to apply EBD, 3)  Interface with Vandy Facilities to show collaboration and potential Biomedical Applications.

A second study would be directed toward OBESITY and the world of Bariatric Surgery and there are some staff in Warren Goodwin’s department (new employee Andy Collignon, AIA, JD) who have an interest in this area of clinical endeavors.  Attached is an abstract written by Andy for a recent article for the AIA Healthcare Committee…AIA Academy of Architecture for Health (Andy would likely join us in this project as well).  Obesity has been described as the next “cancer” in America.  Also obesity brings along a whole set of engineering and architectural “evidence based” challenges.  Emily is bowing out from involvement this year due to schedule challenges…I’ll help out and have asked John Coke, AIA to work with me.   John has agreed and is a good candidate since he works on Vandy projects all the time.  OBESITY 1)  Understand Scope of Problem and Biomed Implications  2)  Select Category of Engineering Analysis impacting one aspect of patient care delivery  3)  Fully Apply Engineering Analysis to patient care problem (anything from ambulance design to elevators to toilets to treatment to overnight stay or even surgery.   IT IS REALLY A BIG PROBLEM.    All majors

18.  NISH National Scholar Award Program  (scholarship@nish.orgKing

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 early April 2009.. 

 I (King) 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.  Kevin indicated on 8/22/2008 " I talked to Tommy Hall from New Horizons and he said he would like to have more students this fall.  I have not checked in with GoodWill.  I should be able to talk to them next week.  "

 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.

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

 Contact:  Tommy Hall  615 - 360-8595    All majors

19.  Robert Malkin Engineering World Health  King 

Thanks for considering using EWH projects in your class or club. 

In 2008, Engineering World Health had about 50 engineers compiling over 100 project requests from hospitals in Africa and Central America.  From these, EWH staff compiled the attached list of possible projects.

Projects were selected based on their likely ability to be solved and their potential impact.

 New for this year is three categories of projects: legacy, research and typical.  Legacy projects have already had significant work completed.   They are probably best taken as short projects (1 semester?) or in classes where students have a significant amount of non-project work. Research projects are at the opposite end of the spectrum.  For these projects, so little work has been done, despite a great need in the developing world, that we cannot even be certain that the problem is solvable for resource poor settings.  The rest of the projects are more typical classroom projects.

 As in the past, I will be personally ready to technically assist any of your teams working on these projects (including acting as the client), and EWH has some funding available for student teams working on these projects.

 The complete list, and the guidelines for obtaining funding are attached [here].

 Let me know if you have any questions.

 Bob                 all majors

20.  Patrick Norris/Todd/Giorgio/Duco Jansen    King  

USB-Enabled Medical Sensors and the Ultra Low-Cost PC: Healthcare Technology for Developing Regions

The overall goal of this project is to develop prototype low-cost medical devices that can be rapidly deployed to developing regions to combat infectious disease and serve other healthcare needs. Project team(s) will solve one or more design problems related to capturing and processing data from medical devices via a USB port of an Ultra Low-Cost PC (ULPC). Teams may select a problem based on data capture from a medical sensor, data processing and other decision support, or both. Medical sensors of interest include pulse oximetry, EKG, and/or microscope CCD array output (images) that may be important for point-of-care diagnostics. Data processing and decision support tasks include monitoring oxygenation and heart rate, detecting EKG abnormalities, identifying pathogens from microscope images, as well as tutorials about how to use the system effectively. Design criteria include low-cost, low-power, durability, ease-of-use, and safety. Teams will be responsible for defining a project appropriate in scope given time and resources available.    BME + EE

21.  Dr. Patrick Harris Pharma-Sys Corp.   King   

Design Topic Title:  Point-of-Care Technology Design

 Point-of-care bedside systems have proven to significantly reduce medication errors as a means of administering medications to patients.  There are several limitations and challenges to these systems but endless possibilities to contribute to patient safety, the reduction of medication errors, and real-time documentation for nurses.  The purpose of this design project will include expanding the application functionality of the PharmaSys eMEDS system – a system provided by PharmaSys for the bedside management and administration of medications.  The application extensions and objectives of the design project include, but are not limited to:

  • Evaluating hospital workflow and current application structure to design and prototype user interfaces.
  • Evaluate and recommend hardware for use in various hospital units.
  • Design and program features as requested by current PharmaSys clients.
  • Other feature design and implementation as required by PharmaSys design team.  BME &  CompE
22.  Prof John Wikswo ( ) and PhilipSamson ( ) VIIBRE  King    

High speed video feedback control system for microfluidic particle positioning

:This project is focused on creating an automated feedback regulated control system for manipulating individual micron sized particles in microfluidic devices.  This will require an engineering team effort focused on electronic circuit design and fabrication as well as design and implementation of software capable of high speed video microscopy data acquisition and feature analysis.  Students interested in circuit design, control theory, software development, and/or any aspect of microfluidic physics are invited to apply for a position on the team.  Team members will learn project management skills, practical aspects of microfluidic technology,  and enhance their engineering skills while participating in the creation of a novel and useful research device.    BME+EE+CompE

23.  Dr. Addison K. May , , Surgery & Anesthesiology  King 
on 8/29/2008 Dr. May wrote: " ... For several years, I have been working with the informatics group here and with bioinformatics students to create various tools for Critical Care data capture and analysis. We developed an on-line CPOE tool for glucose control that has been very successful. Currently, working to continue to grow an ICU database that populates from our own computerized data and create reports and tools for analysis.

If any of this sounds at all like it might fit someone’s interest, I would be delighted to discuss this with you further.  " BME

24.  Dr. Mark Richter, Max Mobility LLC  King 

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. A prototype was developed by a team last year, which will require significant redesign to reach a functional state. Students will become familiar with strain gauges, instrumentation, and CAD.

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 (ITs) 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 ITs, 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.

Ergonomic wheelchair propulsion system – Manual wheelchairs are primarily propelled by gripping and pushing on a wheel-fixed handrim. This approach requires the hand to follow a wheel-fixed path of travel, which may not be optimal for the upper extremity. In particular, pushing down on the top of the handrim may lead to shoulder instability and overuse injuries. One alternative is the use of a lever drive. However, this approach still leads to the hand being constrained to an arcing path about the wheel. This project will develop an alternative ergonomic wheelchair propulsion device that allows the user’s upper extremity to follow more biomechanically optimal postures.

Wheelchair for women – Women who use manual wheelchairs are more likely to develop overuse injuries than men. The design of the wheelchair may be leading to this condition. A wheelchair will be designed specific to the needs and desires of women. Students will interview female wheelchair users and assess their usage patterns and needs. Based on the results, a woman specific wheelchair will be designed.

Decreasing grip exertion during propulsion – Gripping the handrim can be very strenuous during propulsion and may be a factor in the high incidence of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome in the manual wheelchair user population. Grip demand can be reduced by altering the design of the handrim, including the shape and frictional characteristics. This project will improve upon the current attempts to redesign the wheelchair handrim.

all BME + ME, some EE/CompE also -
25.  Dr. Anita Mahadevan-Jansen  King 
Placeholder for ~ 2 optics design projects
One is a "project about using laser light in conjunction with electricity for nerve stimulation.  I believe the particular application would be using them to stimulate nerve cells in the ear to develop a cochlear implant.  "   Taken by Hannah & Theuer (BME) and Frank (EECE)

another -

Development of a disposable cover for a Fiber Optic probe: Research suggests that optical techniques can be used to diagnose various diseases.  Currently the fiber optic probes that we use to obtain data from patients, are stainless steel on the outside and need to be cleaned or sterilized before each use, limiting this technology's application in the clinic and operating room. In this project, you would develop a disposable sheath for the fiber optic probe that would not interfere with signal collection and perform a cost-benefit analysis to evaluate the variables considered in designing the cover.    BME & ME

26.  Dr. Bill Putnam, Thoracic Surgery   King  
 - has a need for a Quality Improvement computer application in the area of looking at quality of care versus time in lung surgery cases.  Some development work has been done, but additional development of reporting methods and data entry need to be addressed.
27.  Carlos Orozco, Informatics Manager GCRC   King   

            Here is a summary of our project:        

            Collection of blood pressure and heart rate data is relatively easy using commercial hardware such as the Dinamap Pro Series vital signs monitor (GE Healthcare, Waukesha WI) but converting this data to digital format for processing and analysis is laborious and carries risks of transcription error and data omission. Over six years ago we launch a solution to convert the data to digital format  using Critikon Dinamap Vital Sign Monitor 1846SX Series successfully improving the process model; currently Dinamap hardware has changed drastically prompting us to redesign the implementation  to accommodate newer Vital Signs Monitor models and technologies in general to maximize the advantages and efficacy of the solution. Among others, we seek to implement support for two newer      Dinamap series (Pro1000 & ProCare), utilize our WiFi infrastructure to simplify the transition of data between the bed side and the database repository, and complement all collection and reporting functions.

           Existing Series, Dinamap Critikon 1846SX       


             New Series Pro 1000


             New Series Pro Care


                BME + EE+ CompE

28.  Dr Franz Baudenbacher  King   
Has one project started, will post a total of two or three...

#1  T-cell Project: Dr. Spyros Kalams' lab in the Infectious Disease Department at VUMC and Dr. Franz Baudenbacher’s lab in BME have formed a partnership to simplify the quantification of T cells in HIV patients utilizing lab on a chip technologies. The aim of the project is to develop a small, cheap, durable instrument for use by the bedside or in developing countries. Doctors currently use conventional flow cytometers, which are generally not available to doctors in developing countries. We have successfully used quantum dots to tag the T cells providing minimal spectral overlap and employed microfluidics to count labeled cells. We seek to push the technology to the next level, investigate more simplified technologies, include blood processing steps on chip, design and build a working prototype. Students across a wide-range of engineering expertise are encouraged to apply.

All majors -

29.  Brandon Wilson, Roche Diagnostics, Indianapolis IN King   

Below you will find a list of a few proposed projects.  Some of these will require little or no travel, while others may require a fair amount of travel to and from Indy.  If you require further specifics on these projects please let me know.

We would prefer that only one these projects be picked, as currently we only have resources to sponsor one project at this time.  I have ranked them 1-4 for likelihood of success with 1 being the most likely to succeed and 4 being the least, and I do notice that this order also is a good indication of how much travel will be required 1 being the least amount of travel and 4 being the most.  If I had my pick I would probably prefer someone do the web splicer, as it is mechanically intensive, would give good design experience for both the ME’s and EE needed to work on it.  It would also be fairly cost effective for us to prototype and build a unit for such requirements.  With that said I would be happy to sponsor any one of these proposed projects.  I will be out of the office the week of the 29th, feel free to contact me on my cell phone during that time.

Senior Project Design Proposals:

The following projects involve working with a Web Substrate used for In-Vitro Diagnostic Test Strips.  The engineer designation types (e.g. BME, ME, EE, CompE) for these projects are suggestions, not necessarily requirements.  These projects are much more extensive and engineering intensive than they may appear.  They present excellent real industry challenges and applications.

4 Online/Offline Product Test:  Develop an online or offline product test and method for early indication/prediction of strip lot/roll performance.  This test could be performed online in the production process or offline after specific processes have been completed via samples from product rolls.  (Online) 2xBME, ME, EE; (Offline) 2xBME & ?

2 Generate Lot Specific Bar-Coded Labels:  Develop a stand alone system which will print (industrial laser or ink jet etc.) a lot specific bar-code on a pre-printed label.  The bar-code will be vision verified in the stand alone process.  Project will include appropriate operator interface, connections to/interactions with plant IT systems, control and verification systems.  ME, EE, CompE

 3 Web Cleaning/Debris Removal:  Develop a system for removing various types of debris from a web substrate during the manufacturing process.  Process may require multiple cleaning/removal steps.  System will not touch or damage the web substrate’s surface.  BME, ME, EE

 1 Web Splicer:  Develop a web substrate splicer which will create an automatic butt splice in the web substrate.  Incoming and Outgoing web will need to held in place and splice must be aligned within specification.  Time requirement for performing this splice procedure is <1 second.  Appropriate feedback and control scheme will need to be developed.  The design will include requirements which are not currently met by readily available splicing units.  2xME, EE

Controls Engineer, Manufacturing Engineering
Roche Diagnostics Corporation
9115 Hague Road

Indianapolis, IN 46250

Tel: 317-521-2260  office

Cell: 317-281-6030

Fax: 317-521-4269  fax

30.  ME DESIGN PROJECTS – 2008-09 - via Dr. Barnett

 1. Nissan North America – Automobile Manufacturing

 2. Denso Manufacturing – Automotive Electromechanical-Component Manufacturing

 3. Lexmark, Inc. – Product/Process-Improvements Ink-jet Printers 

4. Beyond6Sigma, Inc./VU Welding Automation Lab/NASA – Sensing and control, Friction Stir Welding

 5. NASA Rocketry Contest – VU Aerospace Club (UAV Design)

 6. Society of Automotive Engineers/VU Motorsports – Formula SAE Design

 7. NASA-MSFC* – [Science & Missions Systems] – Lunar Exploration Simulations

 8. VUSE Center for Intelligent Mechatronics – Robotics Design/Research 

9. VUSE Medical and Electromechanical Design Lab– Medical/Surgical Equipment Design

 10. Gibson Guitar Co. – Musical Instrument Design and/or Manufacturing

 11. NASA – MSFC* - [Exploration Systems Mission Directorate] - Nuclear Reactor Simulation for Lunar Deployment (Lunar Base)

 12. Northrop-Grumman–Remotec Mission Systems – Military/National-Security Special-purpose Robots

 * MSFC = Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, AL (Numbers 7 & 11 both involve Lunar exploration, but are two different projects.)

31.  EE/CompE Design projects - via Dr. Dozier
JS Inventor
Terry Slattery
Square D
Vanderbilt EECS
Vanderbilt Formula SAE Team

Details on these sponsors will be posted on Oak as soon as possible by Dr. Dozier.

32.  Dr Colleen Brophy Surgery King   

1.  Design and implementation of a device to simultaneously measure oxygen consumption, calcium fluxes, and force in intact vascular smooth muscles:

            Maintenance of tone in the vascular smooth muscle is critical for all organ function.  The purpose of this project is to design, develop, and implement a device that will simultaneously measure force, intracellular calcium fluxes, and oxygen consumption for use with intact vascular smooth muscle.  Intracellular calcium fluxes will be measured with a photomultiplier.  The muscle strips will be loaded with aequorin which is a jelly fish protein that emits light when calcium concentrations increase.  There are two ways to introduce the aequorin protein, transiently permeabilizing the cell membrane (established) and the bacterial expression of a fusion protein containing aequorin and a peptide transduction domain which will carry the protein across the cell membrane (novel).  Oxygen consumption will be measured with an oxygen sensor.  The project will involve using component systems in an integrated fashion while addressing issues such as identifying the appropriate components, interfacing these components with the appropriate data acquisition software and optimizing signal to noise ratios.   There is adequate funding in the Brophy lab to procure needed components and some components are already available.  With this project there is an opportunity to design and implement a device for use in research.  This device would have commercial applicability within the research community and would have particular relevance to phenotyping vascular disorders in transgenic mice.  Successful completion of this project will also likely lead to data suitable for publication. 

2Design of a vein graft harvest kit:

             Saphenous veins are harvested for use as conduits for coronary and peripheral bypass procedures.  One of the common problems in harvesting the veins is that they develop spasm, which is addressed by manually dilating the conduit.  The overdistension that arises from the manual dilation leads to injury to the vein.  Injury to the vein is the leading cause of intimal hyperplasia, which is the leading cause of graft failure.  The purpose of this project is to design a kit to assist in treating vasospasm and likely preventing intimal hyperplasia.  This would require an infusion device for one end of the graft and a pop off valve at the other end to prevent over distension.  The distended vein would be exposed to pharmacologic agents to prevent spasm in a chamber (that also needs to be designed).  One potential pharmacologic agent has been patented by Brophy lab investigators.  Novel additional agents are under development.  Actual discarded vein segments from clinical cases could be used to test the device.  This device would fit a large unmet clinical need and has considerable commercial applicability. 

BME + ME ...
33.   Jeffrey Paine [ King   

Product Title: Bio-mechanical Power Meter Customer Contact: Jeff Paine, Ph.D., Dynamic Structures and Materials, LLC, Franklin, TN, 615-595-6665 x102, Description of concept:

Bicycling enthusiasts and athletes often want to know how much power their bodies are expending in the pedaling activity.  The information is vital for improving the efficiency of the pedal process and training one's body to more effectively pedal.  Understanding how much instantaneous power is being used in the pedal process in "real-time"

can also help a bicyclist correct poor pedal mechanics and as a consequence avoid long term problems with the leg joints.  It is also the most efficient means to train the cardio-vascular system while pedaling.

Many pedal power meters currently exist but either take power data from points on the bicycle that are not directly related to the efficiency of the pedal process (wheel units) or require the change-out of critical bicycle components (i.e. pedal cranks).  What is desired is a bicycle pedal power meter unit that resides in each pedal of the bicycle and wirelessly communicates with the main processing unit which forms the body of the power meter.  In this manner, power for each pedal action and each leg can be tracked and monitored real-time to aid the bicyclist in improving the comfort, efficiency and safety of the pedal process.

Skills/knowledge Required: Leg and pedal process bio-mechanics, wireless electronics design, micro-controller or DSP programming, mechanical/structural strain and deflection sensors, packaging and system integration of miniature electronics


Product Title: Inexpensive Body Shape Mapper Customer Contact: Jeff Paine, Ph.D., Dynamic Structures and Materials, LLC, Franklin, TN, 615-595-6665 x102, Description of concept:

Digitally capturing the shape of various parts of the human body in a rapid and inexpensive manner is gradually becoming an important function for a number of different fields.  Security, custom clothing and accessories, shoes, and various mechanical ergonomic devices can make use of the data to create custom form fitting devices for human use. 

Traditionally scanning techniques are relatively slow and don't often capture enough data to quickly create a digital contour of the specific body part.  Also, the ability to create a scanner from very inexpensive electronics is attractive to bring the technology to new markets.

What is desired is a low cost digital body part scanning technique that can take data fast enough (>0.010 seconds) to create accurate contours while the person being scanned is relaxed but still able to move without feeling like they have to be completely immobile.

Skills/knowledge Required: Understanding of body contour mapping, programming of digital electronics design, CCD component design, digital image programming and data conditioning.

34.  Charlotte Batey, 931-334-9888 & Dr. Paul King
Dr. Batey, a  MD Urologist who needs help developing a portable nebulizer for automobile, etc. transport for her son, who has had a tracheotomy...

She has found a unit that needs to be upgraded, modified, etc.
BME + EE, ME if possible