UD engineering students take senior design project to conference in Tucson

University of Delaware engineering students Sarah Peden, Marjelle Scheffers, Dylan Wergelis-Isaacson and Desik Somasundaram placed third in the Undergraduate Design Competition at the Summer Biomechanics Bioengineering Biotransport Conference (SB^3C) earlier this summer in Tucson, Arizona. As their engineering senior design project, the students developed an affordable and portable cardio training device for manual wheelchair users.

The team built a functioning prototype of the training device in early December and originally intended it for people in Ghana. When the team participated in the National Science Foundation I-Corps Sites program and learned quickly that the device had large market application, the scope of the project grew to include many other countries. The progress made at NSF I-Corps encouraged the team to participate in the SB^3C conference.

SB^3C serves as a presentation and paper competition for upcoming innovations in the fields as well as a networking event for all involved. The theme of this year’s conference was “Growth, Development, Remodeling and Repair.” Peden, who recently graduated with a bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering from UD’s College of Engineering, represented the team at the event.

“It was so great to see what other engineering students across the country are doing for their own senior design projects,” says Peden. The UD team was one of six that presented a project, all selected from a pool of 30 applicants. “The networking opportunity was great, too, meeting established people in the field and other students interested in bioengineering.”

Peden gave a 12-minute presentation followed by a three-minute question-and-answer format. “Developing the prototype was rough going at times, but it was great to work through the ups and downs with the team, learn from each other and work together to learn the machines and processes. I-Corps and the mindset for entrepreneurial expansion also became a great tool for us to use and realize the full and real potential of our training device. We plan to continue development and work on the project next year.”

Sarah Rooney, an assistant professor of biomedical engineering and mentor for the project, said, “I’m very proud of how much the students accomplished since September 2016, and their hard work was rewarded at the SB3C undergraduate design competition. This team was truly interdisciplinary — biomedical engineering, mechanical engineering and environmental engineering students — and they worked across institutions, states, countries and time zones with our Go Get ‘Dem Wheelchair Racing Club sponsors and other collaborators to develop a functional, first-generation prototype. Attending the conference allowed the students to gain valuable feedback to incorporate into a second generation prototype and also showcased the strengths of the University of Delaware in engineering, design and entrepreneurship.”

The team was also mentored by Jenni Buckley, UD associate professor of mechanical engineering, and Yetsa Tuakli-Wosornu from the Yale School of Medicine and International Paralympic Committee Medical Committee.

Award winners from UD

Multiple UD students — current, past and future —also won awards in the conference’s student paper competition. Brian Graham, a doctoral student in mechanical engineering, won second place in the Cellular Mechanics and Mechanobiology category for his work titled “Insights into Tribological Rehydration of Articular Cartilage via Analysis of Solute Transport in situ.“ Mengxi Lv, a doctoral student in bioinformatics and computational biology, won second place in the Diseases, Injury and Remodeling category for her work titled “Statin Attenuates the Inflammatory Damage on Cartilage by Inhibiting Rho Activity in Chondrocytes.” Babak Safa, a doctoral student in mechanical engineering, won third place in the Diseases, Injury and Remodeling category for his work titled “Modeling Tendon Viscoelasticity, Plasticity and Damage Using Reactive Inelasticity.” Ellen Bloom, who is joining the Department of Biomedical Engineering as a doctoral student this fall, won first place in the Fluids and Microfluidics, Cellular and Tissue Mechanics, Physiology and Diseases category for her work titled “Steady-State Characterization of the Mechanical Properties of the Pacinian Corpuscle.” Brandon Zimmerman, a UD alumnus and doctoral student at Columbia University, won first place in the Tissue Mechanics and Characterization category for his work titled “A Finite Element Algorithm for Large Deformation Frictional Contact of Biphasic Materials with Application to Contact of Articular Cartilage in Diarthrodial Joints.”

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ResearchBiomechanicalSenior Design Project Takes Third