Weldon Students’ Creativity and Skill Manifested in Senior Design Innovations

Bio-absorbable Spinal Fusion Senior Design Team
2013 Senior Design Team (left to right) Cam Gossett, Tim Druyos, Bobby Wilson, Emily McCuen. Project: Bio-absorbable Spinal Fusion
Through the 2012-2013 academic year, Weldon students completed a diverse collection of senior design projects that demonstrated unique solutions to healthcare or clinical problems. Here is a summary of their work.

Fall 2012 Senior Design Projects included:

  • A device that is able to quantitatively define and monitor the progression of peripheral neuropathy (PN) by evaluating changes in skeletal muscle electrical activity, sweat gland function, and muscle tension during ankle reflex.*
  • A prosthetic for patients with Proximal Femoral Focal Deficiency (PFFD). This prosthetic has a gear box that is used to give the user a 90 degree bending motion at an artificial knee joint. This will allow users better mobility and the ability to participate in everyday activities. †
  • A companion device to an electric wheelchair utilizing an automated feedback system to regulate an external temperature being applied to the surface of the user. The combined functions of this device will provide comfort for the user and can help maintain continuous body temperature for quadriplegics.
  • Hospital software application that can provide physicians and nurses with an assessment of the likelihood that heart failure patients will be readmitted if discharged based upon an analysis of the patient’s diagnosis and compliance.
  • A novel electro-magnetic pumping system that provides pulsatile blood flow to congestive heart failure patients. This design can be implanted through the rib cage making the surgery less invasive.
  • A low-cost, innovative chemical approach using an infant’s urine to diagnose iron deficiency. This design uses an iron specific indicator to bind the iron in the urine and create a visible color output that will be used to diagnose the infant’s iron level.  (Thanks to Abbott Laboratories for sponsoring this project and mentoring the students.)
  • A walker for the elderly that reduces the risk of falls by monitoring heart rate and detecting obstacles in the user’s path. This device is also equipped to alert proper authorities in the event a fall occurs.
  • A method of detecting mild to moderate traumatic brain injury (TBI) in order to prevent further injuries that may result from high risk behaviors. This design is based on the presence of protein S100b in the blood.
  • A device that is able to provide physicians with a visual feedback system for heart pacemaker lead placement.
  • An endotracheal tube design that causes less physical trauma and allows patients to verbally communicate while undergoing mechanical ventilation.
  • A waterproof device that a swimmer would wear on their forearms that consists of an accelerometer and a gyroscope to calculate the orientation of their hand-arm position.  Through an audio tone the device will signal to the swimmer when their arm is not in an optimal orientation.
  • A hand prosthetic device that would allow a person who has lost a portion of their fingers to sew.

*Fall 2012 Senior Design Best Project Award Winner (tie). Team members were Megan Kochert, Andrea Lawrence, Thomas McNamara, and Jennifer Waite. The project also won the NCIIA E-Team Stage 1 Competition.

†Fall 2012 Senior Design Best Project Award Winner (tie). This project was housed in ME and was one of the School's first ME/BME collaboration teams. Team members were Sajed Dosenba (ME), Ted Kramer (ME), Alexandra Guerra (BME), James Vandewalle (ME), and Benjamin Zakhary (BME). This project also won 2nd place in ME's Malott Innovation Award Competition.


Spring 2013 Senior Design Projects included:

  • A spinal cage made from a metal that will degrade while bone fusion is occurring so that normal bone replaces the degraded metal. This design will result in the patient having no residual metal left in the body once the vertebrae have been fused.‡
  • A procedural method of determining the concentration profile of a drug in skin using Stimulated Raman Scattering (SRS) microscopy to assess concentrations of molecules within thin layers of tissue without using molecular tags.
  • A fetal heart-rate monitor that is low-cost, shockproof, and waterproof. It uses audio feedback to monitor the heart rate and provide visual and audible signals to the user. This device will enhance prenatal care in developing countries.
  • A colorectal cancer screening management website was developed for medical clinics. This program is able to estimate a patient’s risk for colorectal cancer and will improve the efficacy of colorectal cancer treatment by enabling preventative care.
  • A reduced size, lightweight knee brace that is strong enough to handle the wear and tear of use by a football player.
  • A spring loaded suture, which allows for dynamic movement of the adduction muscles to allow for vocalization in patients with vocal fold paralysis (VFP). This design will improve breathing and eating, while retaining the patient’s ability to speak.

‡ Spring 2013 Senior Design Best Project Award Winner. Team members were Timothy Druyos, Paull Gossett, Emily McCuen, Robert Wilson.

Thanks to Weldon School faculty and staff members J. Paul Robinson, Ann Rundell, Marcia Pool, and Allison Sieving for advising the senior design teams. Thanks also goes to all the faculty members and clinical mentors who supported the teams in their senior design projects.