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Medical Device Design Final Presentations

December 21, 2016

On December 14, 2016, students, faculty, and members of the community gathered to hear the final project presentations of the students of Medical Device Design and Innovation (MENG/BENG 404), an undergraduate course in which students work with physician mentors from Yale-New Haven Hospital (YNHH) to innovate and prototype novel solutions to problems that clinicians face in daily medical practice. This popular course, which has just completed its fourth semester, is a partnership between Yale Center for Biomedical Innovation and Technology (CBIT) and the Center for Engineering Innovation and Design (CEID).

This year, 20 students were selected from a competitive pool of approximately 50 applicants to spend 15 weeks in teams of four, each addressing a specific clinical need raised by a Yale physician. Over the fall semester, students worked with physician mentors to understand the specific clinical challenges posed to them. They then collaboratively conceptualized possible solutions, and finally designed and built prototypes using resources, such as 3-D printers, at the CEID. During the semester, students also heard from healthcare innovators and practitioners in the community, and they had multiple opportunities to visit YNHH, speak with staff, tour an Operating Room, and practice surgical techniques.

The five teams presented the following final projects:

With more than 15 million pediatrician visits a year due to suspected ear infections, Team Cerumen created “Monkey See Monkey Do,” a redesigned otoscope that is wireless, digital, and child-friendly that uses a small camera to allow the clinician to visualize the inside of the ear while simultaneously removing view-blocking earwax.

More than 700,000 sternotomies, a surgical procedure which cuts and separates the sternum, are performed each year. The procedure comes with a high risk for complications, like infection, that can lead to higher costs and longer hospital stays. Team Thoracic Part created a flexible saw guide to ensure straight, midline cuts during sternotomies, and enable easier closure after surgery.

20 students were selected from a competitive pool of approximately 50 applicants to spend 15 weeks in teams of four, each addressing a specific clinical need raised by a Yale physician

Team DOC used a neural network, a computer program modeled on the workings of the human brain, to create a mobile training software to help physicians diagnose problems with complex medical technology. The team designed the application to help physicians use and troubleshoot problems with extra-corporeal membrane oxygenation, or ECMO, a heart and lung bypass machine used most commonly on seriously ill young children.

Drawing blood from newborns, an event that occurs multiple times daily on approximately 40 infants in the Neonatal ICU at YNHH, is challenging for clinicians and painful for infants. Team TriFlo drew inspiration from blood-sucking animals, such as leeches, to design a one-handed device to more efficiently and quickly draw blood from infants while reducing pain.

Giving pathologists a potentially powerfully way to examine patient tissue, Team VR Pathology created a platform using a virtual reality headset that allows pathologists to see tissue samples in 3D, in hopes of improving diagnostic accuracy.

MENG/BENG 404 is co-instructed by Joseph Zinter, Ph.D., assistant director of CEID, and Alyssa Siefert, Ph.D., Engineering Director of CBIT. Physician mentors included Benjamin Doolittle M.D., and members of his internal medicine-pediatrics residency program; Justin Blasberg, M.D., Tovy Kamine, M.D., and Richard Torres, M.D.

Submitted by Alyssa Siefert on December 22, 2016