Students from the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering earned the top prizes in the Fall Capstone Expo, Monday at McCamish Pavilion on the Georgia Tech campus.
A team called the HemoHeaters shared first place in the overall competition with its device that brings life-saving warmth to people suffering traumatic blood loss. Three BME students comprised one half of the Artery Architects, who won the Interdisciplinary competition. And taking the award for best project in the department was a team of five students called LeadX, who developed a safe ultrasound powered sheath that improves outcomes for people with cardiac implantable devices.
“These student projects come from all of the critical spaces and subspecialties, and some of them address the most important clinical gaps,” said James Stubbs, professor of the practice and director of BME Capstone. “These are challenges and issues the physicians and clinicians working with us are facing in their practices. Consequently, our students are addressing a wide range of patient needs.”
With 23 teams among the 129 that competed in the Expo, Coulter BME had the largest contingent among schools and departments (although 34 teams participated in the Interdisciplinary category).
The BME students contrived some creative approaches: A team called Blood Brigadiers introduced Dracula’s Mini Fridge, a cold case for the emergency transportation of blood by Special Operations Combat (SOCOM) medics. SecureTap designed a body brace that enables correct patient positioning for lumbar punctures.
But it was the HemoHeaters, with their wallet-sized device that can quickly and efficiently warm blood before an emergency transfusion, who left a deep impression on the judges. The team was inspired by some 19th century technology to develop its solution.
“We looked at old-fashioned radiators, used for heating homes, and their serpentine design, and implemented that into our device,” explained Kevin Swamy, whose teammates included Marianne Al Haj, Elif Kulakzizoglu, and Vikram Kaushik.
The Artery Architects, with BME undergrads Caroline Gilpin, Daniel Lewis, and Eric Slovensky on board, developed a tool called RoboClose, which helps doctors close arteries after surgery. They collaborated with three mechanical engineering students (Benjamin Espy, Camden Callstrom, William Formisano).
“In a real-world situation, you collaborate with people from a variety of backgrounds and disciplines, and that’s one of the things we got from the Capstone experience,” Slovensky noted. “We’re biomedical engineers, but we got exposure to an area of expertise we don’t have. But I feel like I know a lot more about mechanical engineering now, and our M.E. teammates know more about biology and physiology.”
For Caroline Harpole of the LeadX team, the greatest takeaway of her Capstone experience (which demands that students tackle real-world challenges put forth by sponsors, often clinicians), was the multidimensional aspect of finding a workable (and potentially marketable) solution.
“That might be the most important thing I learned: innovation is not linear. It’s up and down and side to side, and includes some directions you may not have considered yet,” said Harpole, whose teammates were Alehandro Vasquez, Ramon Grullon, Malia Yuhl, and Nichole Frey. “We actually had an entirely different idea three weeks ago and had to pivot late in the game, put the pedal to the medal, and develop a new idea.”
A number of BME teams also received honorable mention. To read more about the Fall 2023 Capstone Expo and the projects from across campus, read the College of Engineering’s complete coverage here.