Breast cancer is the second most common form of cancer among women in the US and the leading cause of cancer deaths for women. The National Cancer Institute estimates that one in eight American women will develop breast cancer in her lifetime. Early detection leads to early treatment and improved patient outcome. Breast Self-Exams (BSE) aid early discovery of the disease, but only 29% of women regularly conduct the exam. Part of the reason for this low percentage is that health care providers do not have a standardized method for teaching breast examination skills.
In response to this lack of uniformity, the Brest Examination Simulator E-Team developed training tools to simulate breast exams and teach the proper procedure. The team created computerized, strap-on breast models for teaching patients how to perform breast self-exams and plated breast models for teaching medical students, residents, nursing students, and physician assistants to perform clinical exams. Each model simulates various conditions, including normal and pathologic. Both models contain electronic sensors to communicate users' movements to a computer screen as they examine the models. The computer data provides individualized performance evaluations and helps define the quantitative and qualitative characteristics of an adequate clinical exam, thereby standardizing the method. Model development is based on the E-pelvis simulator, which one of the E-Team members designed.
In January 2000, with the approval of the president and college deans of the University of Tulsa, an interdisciplinary team of faculty developed alliances and constructed a comprehensive two-year curriculum for a certificate program in innovation and product development, TUI2. This curriculum and its faculty assist students with the entrepreneurial evaluation, selection, development, management, funding, and nurturing of promising technological developments. Students form E-Teams, collectively select their project topic, and together prove its technical and commercial feasibility. Students have faculty advisors throughout their study and receive the benefits of business community mentors during the last semester of their senior year. NCIIA supported TUI2's efforts by providing funds for prototype materials, technical services, E-Team and advisor travel expenses, course planning expenses and stipends for E-Team summer internships
Since its inception, the Design of Biomedical Engineering Devices and Systems I and II capstone course, required for all biomedical students, has evolved into a two-semester course. At the onset of the course, students learn from lectures and then transition to team projects. Students divide themselves into teams and choose a project from a list solicited from engineering and medical faculty and staff as well as from industrial sources. Currently, few students carry their projects beyond the confines of the course.
With added support, E-Teams have the opportunity to extend the scope of their projects beyond the classroom. The new course integrates the engineering and life science backgrounds of senior biomedical engineering students. Students learn design principles and discuss solutions to design problems in medical devices and systems. Guest lecturers cover some topics of interest, such as database design and entrepreneurship. The director of the Own Graduate School of Management has expressed interest in lecturing and possible involving entrepreneurship students in E-Teams. Example projects include genetic identification of hazardous indoor air organisms, a leg compression device to assist in ultra-sound testing, ergonomic chair design, and an O.R. X-ray sighting system.
For more information on Vanderbilt's Biomedical Engineering Program, visit their website
Approximately 2,500 infants suffered Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) in 1998. Although decreasing, the numbers of SIDS cases is still quite large. Caregivers typically discover the occurrence of SIDS when they check on a sleeping infant. Closely monitoring an infant's breathing gives warning when a problem arises. Breath monitoring is also necessary in other medical cases, such as post-operative patients who have received anesthesia and sleep apnea patients.
The Breath-Alert device, developed by an E-Team of two MBA students and two graduate students in biomedical engineering, is a general purpose breath monitoring system appropriate for post-operative patients, sleep apnea patients, and infants at risk of SIDS. The device measures carbon dioxide levels to determine whether or not the patient is breathing. Carbon dioxide absorbs light in the 4.2 to 4.4 bandwidth, so the device uses infrared (IR) light to detect carbon dioxide in the ambient air around the patient. Breath-Alert positions an IR source tuned to the appropriate wavelength and power to shine its beam through the exhaled volume of gas. A parabolic reflector placed opposite the source concentrates the IR light at its focal point, and an IR sensor at the focal point detects the transmitted light. A simple algorithm processes the IR transmission data and signals an alarm when breathing ceases.
This project supports the creation of a new course at Case Western Reserve University, titled Engineering Entrepreneurship. Designed jointly by both engineering and management faculty, the course serves as the capstone course for the new Master of Engineering and Management (MEM) degree, recently approved by the Ohio Board of Regents. The course curriculum gives students the educational and practical tools to help them undertake entrepreneurial challenges. Through classroom work and guest lectures from entrepreneurs, students learn about the new venture creation process; entrepreneurship in a technical environment; and innovation processes within organizations. Students also study idea generation and the creative process; organizational structure and how to enhance innovation; technology and intellectual property as a competitive advantage; and strategic alliances and partnering for increased innovation. Students form teams of three to five individuals and develop and present a complete business plan for a new product or concept.
Increasingly, special education and rehabilitation programs are providing clients with computers and, at the same time, trends show that people with disabilities are getting increased access to programs that have traditionally excluded them. The government supports equal access to computers for people with disabilities, while schools, caregivers, and employers seek new ways to increase opportunities and productivity for their clients or workers with disabilities.
In response to these trends, this E-Team developed CameraMouse(TM), the only assistive technology hands-free mouse control device of its kind. With CameraMouse(TM), people with severe disabilities can completely control computers. It is image-driven and non-invasive, and does not require head harnesses, adhesive dots, wires, or illumination with infrared lights as other products do. Intuitive even to small children, users learn to operate CameraMouse(TM) within minutes, and they can soon play educational computer games, write with an onscreen keyboard, and surf the Internet. A research paper on the efficacy of CameraMouse(TM) showed that nine out of twelve people with limited voluntary muscle control due to cerebral palsy or traumatic brain injury learned to use the technology. These nine used CameraMouse(TM) to spell words, operate commercial software, and access the Web.
The Fluent Systems E-Team received funding to develop a wireless NH3 monitor to help farmers apply ammonia nitrate fertilizer to fields more efficiently. US farmers annually apply fifteen million tons of anhydrous ammonia to their crops using a field tractor and an implement to pull a large tank, creating a long, train-like configuration of machinery. Partly because of this configuration, tractor drivers can’t see the tank fluid level, so they must periodically stop application to read the tank’s levels.
Fluent’s NH3 monitor solves the problem with a two-module system composed of a tank module that sits atop the field tank and a display module within the tractor cab. The tank module continuously monitors fluid levels and communicates them to the cab using wireless technology. The cab module allows the farmer to track how much product is in the tank without getting out of the tractor to check the tank gauge.
The product sold well in its first year of commercial availability, but Fluent’s big news came in late 2004, when Raven Industries LLC acquired the company for $1 million. Raven, a diversified manufacturer of plastics, electronics and special apparel products, bought Fluent to help grow its Flow Controls Division.
In 2000, an E-Team from Swarthmore College developed a home heating system that utilized many advanced microcontrollers. Although useful, traditional microcontrollers use a cumbersome amount of wiring for communication, making the system expensive to install and difficult to repair without specific expertise.
To address this problem, the team developed a wireless communication system, called simply "The System." The System integrates Bluetooth chips into microcontrollers' printed circuit boards to allow for short-range operation (10 to 100 meters) while using very little power. For example, The System could exchange commands between a boiler and zone valves, zone valves and thermostats, and thermostats and boiler, all without hard wiring.
The E-Team included members from the original Home Heating System E-Team as well as several new recruits.
In continental Europe and the UK, the parking industry has developed innovative solutions to accommodate the increase of cars in limited spaces, but parking technology in the US hasn't reflected these industry changes. Recognizing the need for improved parking technology in the US, this E-Team has developed appropriate technology in response. With Preora, ImargenAR's proprietary technology, wireless sensors in each parking spot alert drivers to empty spots within the lot.
For lot owners and managers, the sensor technology provides constant, accurate information on parking lot occupancy and allows them to keep the lot at full capacity and serve customers better. The sensor system is compatible with automated payment systems, like E-Zpass, and bar code scanners at each spot ensure that customers park in their allotted spaces. Preora could also aid in increased security if linked with license plate scanners and facial recognition systems, monitoring those entering or leaving the lot.
With the sensor system, customers can reserve a space over the Internet or telephone.
Noise pollution is a major problem in many communities. Big industry, military operations, and airports are all capable of producing damaging levels of sound. Wilderness areas need to monitor noise to protect wildlife. Because this type of pollution has a high impact on the safety and quality of life, this E-Team from Dartmouth College developed, by request from Lebanon Municipal Airport, an efficient, low-cost, and portable noise-monitoring system.
The system is a robust, weatherproof, and portable package backed up with solar power for use anywhere. It employs digital and analog technology, and is equipped with long and short-term data storage, user-friendly hardware and software controls, and data analysis software. The system automatically monitors low-complexity noise and records its findings.