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Student Design Projects

The student design project is performed over two semesters. The term "project” is used rather than "thesis" because groups of students generally collaborate on the project, the project can be industrially sponsored, and the project may continue from year-to-year with an evolving group of students. The common sources of projects are the BME faculty, industrial colleagues, and clinicians in the medical and veterinary colleges. The character of different projects is highly variable, e.g., a project might be primarily a theoretical study (e.g., aerodynamics of a neonatal respirator) or might be primarily a laboratory experiment (e.g., tissue engineering of an intervertebral disc).

The following is a sampling of recent student design projects:

MASTER OF ENGINEERING TEAM PROJECTS

Sleep monitoring and environmental control
Developed a system applied in Intensive Care Units (ICU), which can detect the external factors (environmental factors: temperature, sound, humidity and light) and internal factor (patients’ movements) and notify the healthcare workers when these factors are supposed to be adjusted or examinations are required and alter the environment in ICU rooms to some extent, to promote the sleep quality of patients.

Endoscope proximity sensing
The time it takes for endoscopic surgeon trainees to fully master the techniques is between 3 - 5 ½ years, or 140 - 500 procedures. Our device involves an array of four proximity sensors placed on the tip of the endoscope that are able to detect the location of the endoscope within the colon. The device provides a real-time feedback signal that displays when and where the trainee may have made a mistake, thus decreasing the enormous time and cost implemented in the training process.

Team oxybehmometer
We aim to improve patient quality of care, especially at the emergency and ICU level. Current practice is limited, as there is no quantifiable method to monitor tissue recovery. One thing for sure is that hypoxia always accompanies tissue death! Our probe is designed to measure tissue oxygen concentration in an ICU setting. Our probe is simple, convenient and cheap!

Optimizing the flow output of intra-aortic balloon pumps (IABP) through the use of multiple balloons
IABPs currently on the market have a 0.5 L/min cardiac assist flow rate, 10% of the total required cardiac output. By using multiple balloons, we are able to induce a more unidirectional flow pattern, forcing more blood through the aorta instead of the coronary artery. We have been able to increase flow output by 60% and theorize that it can be further improved by manipulating balloon timings and obtaining more optimal balloons.

Surgical solutions in colorectal cancer
This team developed a strategy to identify the borders of healthy tissue during open colorectal surgery, allowing for improved surgical margins and reduced risks of postoperative complications. They accomplished this by designing a device that measures tissue elastic modulus via pipette aspiration.

Portable handheld device for early detection of preterm birth
Many physiological changes occur within the uterine cervix at the onset of labor from long, stiff, and closed structure to a shorter, softer, and more dilated one. Our team is currently working on a portable handheld device which is capable of detecting these changes in the biomechanical properties of the cervical tissue for an effective and timely diagnosis of premature birth.

Smart trocar: Revolutionizing the user experience and patient outcomes in minimal invasive surgery
Although the technology used to complete MIS has evolved, the incidence of injury to vasculature and internal organs and the mortality rate have not dropped below 40% and 15% percent respectively. Our solution is a smart trocar that characterizes different tissue properties and instantaneously notifies the surgeon, a feedback mechanism that is lacking in all current bladed and blunt trocar systems, to aid in the successful access of the abdominal cavity and prevent common first entry injuries.

Correcting canine mitral valve disease
Mitral valve disease has a widespread incidence in dogs. 80% are likely to die within two years. Open-heart surgery is expensive and can only performed by handful of veterinary surgeons. We developed a minimally invasive device to address myxomatous mitral valve disease (MMVD) in small-breed dogs (< 15kg) to reduce disease progression and improve quality of life.

Microfluidic device for nuclear membrane deformation
In collaboration with Dr. Jan Lammerding and his laboratory, the team designed and developed a microfluidic device and detection system to elucidate the deformability of the nuclear membrane in target cell populations. Nuclear deformation is measured via nuclear protrusion of cells into small channels under flow conditions. This cellular characteristic is directly correlated with cell type and has the potential to become a significant biomarker for the diagnosis and prognosis of several disease varieties including cancer and muscular dystrophy. The team worked with Cornell Nanoscale Science and Technology Facility to design and fabricate silicon wafer masters for their microfluidic device and constructed a low cost, miniature fluorescent microscope using 3D printing technology.

Minimally invasive delivery of an injectable gel for intervertebral disc repair 
Re-herniation occurs after 20% of discectomy procedures, due to a defect in the intervertebral disc from the initial herniation. Secondary surgeries are estimated to cost around $6,907 per patient. We created a device, compatible with minimally invasive surgical hardware, to mix, deliver, and photo-crosslink a gel that seals disc defects following a discectomy procedure. This leads to total repair of the disc and prevents re-herniation, reducing the need for secondary operations as well as the overall financial burden of the disease. Project sponsored by Dr. Lawrence Bonassar (Cornell University Biomedical Engineering Department) & Dr. Roger Hartl (Weill Cornell Medicine).

Dementia screening test 
Our group worked to create a Virtual Reality based screening test to help diagnose dementia. Early diagnosis of dementia can help physicians to act earlier and slow the onset of conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease. Our device immerses the patient in a realistic setting where they are asked to perform routine tasks such as making a cup of coffee. By using the eye tracking data from the VR headset, we can offer physicians relevant metrics that can help them to diagnose the level of dementia in patients.

The future of keratoplasty
This team worked under the mentorship of Dr. Christopher Sales, who is at the cutting edge of Keratoplasty and an expert in its most recent evolution, Descemet Membrane Endothelial Keratoplasty (DMEK) at Weill Cornell Medicine. The team developed an iDisc, which will help turn the more difficult DMEK procedure easier by providing a dissolvable carrying platform for the tissue. The team aims to accelerate the use of DMEK among surgeons as it provides patients with better visual acuity, lower graft rejection rates and shorter recovery time.

“Smart bandage” for diabetic wounds
Diabetic foot ulcers (DFUs) and associated diabetic wounds occur in around 15% of the 422 million patients with diabetes. Healing of these chronic wounds is significantly challenging, with the average healing time for simple wounds >2 months. During this period, dressings must be changed on a daily basis, putting significant burden on the patient, nurses and clinicians. Additionally, about 50% of diabetic wounds become infected. We have designed a “Smart Bandage” capable of continuously monitoring the healing of diabetic wounds, therefore reducing clinician involvement and improving outcomes.

Smart brace for gait improvement and rehabilitation
Our team partnered with Dr Thorne to address foot drop and gait impairments as a result of anoxic brain injury - symptoms that are very common in those suffering other neurological injury. Our team created a smart brace for home rehabilitation of foot drop. The device provides active assistance, moving the foot into dorsi and plantar flexion when the patient is incapable of making/completing the movement and backing off when the patient does not require assistance.

Diagnose, treat, and evaluate functional muscle pain
Under the mentorship of Dr. Norman Marcus and starting from a patent (US #7,826,900 and US #6,432,063), the team designed, built and tested an improved prototype muscle electrostimulation device with additional features including highly customizable electrical waveform output and an onboard Internet connection to a virtual anatomy software package allowing the practitioner to see what muscles are being stimulated in real-time.

Respiration rate monitoring: The solution for respiratory monitoring in med-surgical ward
Our device consists of an adhesive patch with a flexible sensor and an electronic module with an accelerometer. They measure the deformation and the acceleration, respectively, of the patient’s abdomen while breathing. All the data acquired by the sensors is transmitted from the electronic module to a nearby measurement device wirelessly using Wi-Fi.

Use of TENS to enhance rheumatoid arthritis patients’ experience
Pain during injection can lead to a 50% decrease in patient adherence. This concept of pain is due to continuous injection treatments, causing mental and physical burden to the users. Therefore, there exists a medical need to improve patient compliance and decrease patient fear during the self-injection process. We developed the instrumentation, and run experiments to investigate the use of TENS as a pain mitigation method to enhance the patient experience during injection.

Novel heart bioreactor
The goal of the project was to build a heart valve bioreactor. The reactor aims to simulation the pressure and flows experienced by the aortic or pulmonary heart valve. This bioreactor could be used to grow artificial heart valve scaffolds. Artificial heart valves have potential for use in heart valve replacement to treat heart disease. The reactor could also be used to simulation disease conditions, such as high blood pressure and an abnormal heart rate.

 

MASTER OF ENGINEERING INDIVIDUAL RESEARCH PROJECTS

“Studying the effect of confined migration on cancer cell epigenetic modifications.”

"Investigation of outer membrane vesicle colloidal stability to make multivalent vaccines.”

“Engineering biomaterial microenvironments to facilitate long-term, clinical-scale skeletal muscle stem cell expansion.”

“Exploration of effects of DSIF on pol II pausing in drosophila using aptamer.”

 

UNDERGRADUATE TEAM PROJECTS

MousePad
We created an accurate, user-friendly system capable of monitoring mouse heart rate, respiratory rate, and temperature under anesthesia.  The device uses only non-invasive sensors and adjusts system inputs to maintain acceptable conditions for the subject. This product is for use during surgery and imaging and offers data export capability post-procedure.

ThoroughbRed: Novel internal reduction system for equine proximal sesamoid bone fracture repair
Transverse midbody fractures of the sesamoid bone are some of the most common injuries in racehorses. The sesamoid is a free-floating bone essential for guiding the tendons and ligaments in the fetlock joint of a horse. Current repair methods do not provide enough fracture gap reduction for complete recovery. To address this issue, we designed a novel reduction system for equine sesamoid bone fracture repair. This will be marketed primarily to equine surgeons for use in sesamoid bone fractures, although there is the potential for its use in similar injuries in other bones and species.

ComfortFix - Solutions for stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS)
“78,980 people will receive a primary brain tumor diagnosis this year. 23,830 will be malignant.” Tens of thousands of these patients will undergo SRS and there are some important areas of improvements: Mask fabrication process, Inability to adjust mask post fabrication, Patient comfort, and Fixation. We have devised a collection of technology and procedures capable of addressing these needs.

KneesySense: Intraoperative knee force sensor 
Surgical alterations to joint microstructure have long-term impact on load distribution, with clinical implications such as osteoarthritis, but there is currently no reliable mechanism to measure these mechanical changes. Team Kneesy Does It addressed this issue by designing a force sensing and analysis system for use during knee surgery. The KneesySense, compatible with arthroscopic and open joint surgery, detects peak pressures on the articulating surface and is sterilizable, waterproof, and wireless.