How would you describe your project to your friends and colleagues?
We're trying to make it easier for the average person to determine their blood pressure without training, which is needed for a stethoscope. Instead, we have a reflective surface that will change with your pulse and its purpose is to tell you when to look at the cuff gauge.
How would you describe it to a future employer?
As cardiovascular diseases are the leading causes of death in the world, there is a great demand for a more efficient and ubiquitous detection method. Our project is essentially a practical and non-electronic method of replacing a stethoscope in blood pressure measurement. Our goal was to take cost effective resources that would be available near a patient's indigenous location (aluminum soda cans, sandwich bags, etc.) and construct a device that alleviates the need for specialized training. We achieved this by removing the auditory component and replacing it with a visual indicator under the same concept of pressure amplification from the initial force of the constricted brachial artery. With minimalistic instruction from illustrated instructions, the user should be able to determine their systolic and diastolic blood pressures with greater ease.
Doc Brown, a well prepared engineer!
What specific skills and knowledge did you learn from senior biodesign?
Among the most tangible skills I learned was from exposure to the microcontroller, Arduino. It foremost refreshed my programming knowledge and introduced me to the vast possibilities that such a small, and relatively cheap, device could hold; the high variability of our group projects is a testament of this. Less tangible, though a more structured part of the class, the stepwise procedures of business was another skill set I learned. This included the intricacies (and extreme basics) of patent law and quantification of profit.
How can you apply what you discovered and learned to other areas of your life?
Most evidently, the business aspects will serve me if I choose to become an entrepreneur or have a managerial role in industry. Beyond that, however, the group dynamic has helped me to better develop skills of compromise, delegation, and time management. These skills are not only easily utilized in academia or industry, but will serve me in social situations as well.
What was your favorite aspect of your project?
My favorite aspect was the creativity-driven, early stages when we were developing designs to solve the fundamental problem. Regardless how ridiculous a design seemed to be, there were always aspects that you could glean and carry onward to your next design.
What problems or challenges did you encounter?
Our group encountered, what felt like, every challenge imaginable. For instance, our ordering of parts was delayed, lost, and communicated poorly. Additionally, the expertise of our peers and mentors was focused on more intricate or electronic-based designs, which we were prohibited from. Furthermore, as the largest group in the class, we had difficulty compromising on a meeting time due to so many varied and conflicting schedules.
Did the challenges cause you to discover something new about your field of study?
These challenges certainly showed me that despite all attempts at preemptive preparation and organization, there will be unavoidable “crises”. Related, you cannot let minor issues deter your group from its main goal; thus I discovered how important it is to have an overall schedule to create and reinforce.
What would you do or change about your project if you could start over again?
If I could start this project over, I’d like to more practically plan out the goals of the second semester (creating a prototype). Furthermore, I would have liked to establish a relationship with a machinist and discuss their opinion during the fall semester. Although prototyping is our responsibility in the spring, their opinion is as valuable as our instructors or mentors; it should be used in the determination of the final design, if not the whole design brainstorming process.
What would you like to learn further about your project if you had the time to continue to work on it?
If we had more time to pursue our project, I would like to better understand the details and needs of the customers. Despite their distance, this would have given us better direction and motivation. Moreover, if time was not constrained, blood pressure measurement training would have given us better knowledge of the current technology and better understanding of what variables we need to take note of.