How would you describe your project to your friends and colleagues? To a future employer?
Friends: "My senior design project is something people will hopefully actually use to replaces a stethoscope while taking blood pressure. The device detects the vibrations with a stethoscope diaphragm, but transduces the signal from mechanical to visual so that people who haven’t been trained to listen to Korotkoff sounds can also take blood pressure."
Future Employer: "My senior design project addresses a real world issue of healthcare in developing nations – the training needed to perform common blood pressure measurements. In order to make common healthcare more available in these areas, our client needed a non electronic device that is simple to use and does not require training. Our visual indicator device does this by transducing the mechanical vibrations to a visible effect that will alert the user when to take readings from the pressure gauge."
What specific skills and knowledge did you learn from senior biodesign?
This capstone course has integrated many of the skills we’ve learned in previous courses throughout the SBU Biomedical Engineering program. One of the problems I've encountered is simply the length of time between courses that initially teach basic skills and courses that integrate them. The senior biodesign course makes it clear that proficiency with an individual skill and the smoothly integrated application of many individual skills together are two very different things. The opportunity to practice this type of application is exactly what I believe we were supposed to learn, and I think in that sense the course has been successful.
How can you apply what you learned to other areas of your life?
Something I know for a fact, but still have to learn over and over again, is that things absolutely never go according to plan; and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. This project is another fabulous example of this fact.
What was your favorite aspect of your project?
My favorite part about this project is that we aren’t doing it just to do a project for a class, we are doing it so that people who actually need it can actually use what we make. That makes me feel like my work is a little bit more worthwhile.
What problems or challenges did you encounter? Did the challenges cause you to discover something new about your field of study?
In the beginning I was stuck in the mindset of “qualitative/low tech project” and didn’t realize that we could still use relatively ‘quantitative/high tech’ equipment to characterize the functioning of the device and improvements made after iterations of testing. This is one of the reasons having multiple perspectives look over the same problem is more productive than just one…
What would you do or change about your project if you could start over again?
If I could start over again, I would like to have more communication with and involvement of (ideally) the technicians that would be using our device. Having Engineering World Health (EWH) as the provider of the issue has clearly been effective, but communicating with someone in the environment who has specific comments for us would also have been useful, not to mention interesting!
What would you like to learn further about your project if you had the time to continue to work on it?
If I had the time and resources to continue working on this project after the semester ends, I would enjoy streamlining and optimizing it even more. In order to facilitate the device’s distribution, EWH uses kits that high school and college students put together. As our design stands now, it would be moderately difficult to make as a kit for this purpose. However, if we could tweak the components a bit and make the device entirely out of a soda can and a sandwich bag, for example, we could do something cool like send special packed lunches to these developing areas and include surprise instructions for “making your own” non-electronic blood pressure assist device.