NIH announces winners of 2014 Undergraduate Biomedical Engineering Competition
Four undergraduate teams design creative new solutions to longstanding healthcare problems
Four winning teams were announced in the Design by Biomedical Undergraduate Teams (DEBUT) challenge, a biomedical engineering design competition for teams of undergraduate students. The judging was based on four criteria: the significance of the problem being addressed; the impact on clinical care; the innovation of the design; and the existence of a working prototype. The first place team will receive $20,000, second $15,000 and the two teams that tied for third will both receive $10,000 in a ceremony at the annual Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES) conference in October. The challenge was managed by the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB), which is a part of the National Institutes of Health.
The first place winning project, AccuSpine, addresses the problem of postoperative neurological or vascular complications that result from the more than 20 percent of screws placed incorrectly along the spine during the nearly 500,000 spinal fusion surgeries performed each year in the United States. The undergraduate team of seven students from Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, designed an improved pedicle probe, a device used to create a path for the screws, aimed at reducing breaches in spinal fusion procedures. The AccuSpine provides feedback to the surgeon through vibrations and LED lights, warning them when a breach is detected.
Second place was awarded to the Sensory Substitution Glove project by a team of three seniors from Boston University. The glove was created to supplement the traditional white cane used by those with visual impairments. While the cane can help warn people of immediate impediments, it cannot sense obstacles at head-height or give much warning of sudden drop-offs, giving its users very little time to react. Ultrasound and infrared sensors, an accelerometer, a microprocessor, and a small speaker attached to the back of the glove scan the surroundings to provide vibrational signals that give the user a broader understanding of the world around him without limiting the use of the hand. By simply making different gestures, the user can adapt the sensor area, creating a wider or narrower sensing angle depending on the needs of the moment.
“We are very proud to announce the winning projects,” said NIBIB Director Roderic I. Pettigrew, Ph.D., M.D. “All four of them show how a fresh perspective can create inexpensive, effective, and transformative technologies to solve longstanding challenges in healthcare. I am excited to see how this next generation of biomedical engineers will continue to create technology that is better, faster, and less costly.”
There were 63 eligible entries received from 33 universities in 19 different states.
About the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB): The NIBIB’s mission is to support multidisciplinary research and research training at the crossroads of engineering and the biological and physical sciences. NIBIB supports emerging technology research and development within its internal laboratories and through grants, collaborations, and training. More information is available at the NIBIB website.
About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): The NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. More information is available at the NIH website.
For more information about the winners click here.