Child loss is a real fear for child caregivers in today’s society. In 2001, the police received 2,000 lost-child cases. Although the majority of these children were recovered within hours, time spent finding the child meant time spent keeping the family in distress. To deter this problem, this E-Team developed Wee Know, a child loss prevention system.
Wee Know consists of two wireless communication devices: one for the child and one for the caretaker. The child’s device, about the size of a wristwatch, attaches to the child’s wrist; the adult’s device resembles a pager. The devices consist of integrated circuits (ICs) that handle all functions of the system, utilizing radio frequency (RF) for communication. The team’s current prototype integrates a RF transmitter and receiver produced by Linx Technologies. To ensure the correct signal passes between the child and caretaker devices, the communication signal must be encoded. Encoding distinguishes the RF signal from other signals that could cause interference. If the child and adult devices get too far away to properly communicate, an alarm signals.
The Wee Know E-Team consists of four undergraduate students in computer, electrical and mechanical engineering. They work with two faculty members in electrical engineering, and a business advisor from the Wesley J. Howe School of Technology Management.
California Institute of Technology, 2002 - $12,100
The Equigene Research E-Team used racehorses to identify the genes involved in athletic performance and disease susceptibility. Working with industry advisors, the E-Team, consisting of two PhD candidates in Biology, created a database of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) strongly associated with superior and/or diseased cardiovascular function in thoroughbreds. The team genetically evaluated horses for their racing and breeding potential, propensity for injury, and susceptibility to illness. Using proprietary methods to create DNA tests that allow precise determination of clients' horses’ genetic composition, the team advised horse owners, breeders, and trainers on how to best manage their stock.
Every visit a patient makes to the hospital generates at least one medical report. Because of high volume, hospital staffs are unable to keep up manual entry of reports into computer systems for analyzing and statistics keeping. Manual processing of these reports can lead to breaches in patient confidentiality and misplaced files.
For this reason, this E-Team, consisting of two biomedical engineering undergraduates working with faculty and an industry advisor, has developed MedfoLink, a computerized system for processing hospital patient records. MedfoLink adapts the data contained in the Unified Medical Language System (UMLS), a medical language source database containing over 2.1 million concept names in over sixty different biomedical vocabularies, for use by language processing systems. This allows MedfoLink to transform the data from patient records into a format appropriate for computer analysis. With this analysis, healthcare professionals will have the tools to identify trends in the patient population.
The growing industry of mountain biking faces problems as cycle frame manufacturers face design, materials, and manufacturing constraints in their attempts to reduce frame weight while increasing strength. These limitations result from the disadvantages of conventional fusion welding to join bicycle frame members. To eliminate these constraints, the Interlink E-Team is applying innovative Friction Stir Welding (FSW) technology to bicycle frame assembly. Introduced in 1991, FSW is a cutting-edge solid-state joining technology developed by The Welding Institute, a nonprofit welding consortium. FSW is a simple mechanical process in which a cylindrical pin made of tool steel is rotated, plunged and traversed along a weld joint to create a solid-state, high strength joint.
FSW improves bicycle frames in five important ways.
FSW improves frame strength and rigidity with greater joint strengths and fatigue life; elimination of solidification defects; reduced thermal input; and the ability to join higher strength aerospace alloys that are not weldable with fusion welding.
FSW lowers frame weights by reducing structural over-design, minimizing join build-up, and expanding the use of higher strength-to-weight ratio aerospace alloys.
FSW reduces manufacturing costs by eliminating fusion weld consumables, reducing the number of manufacturing steps, and increasing process automation.
FSW providers greater freedom in mechanical design through enhanced joint properties and alloy choices.
FSW is an environmentally friendly and safe process with no noxious byproducts.
The Interlink E-Team, spread among many institutions, consists of two MBA candidates from the Tuck School of Business, a graduate student in materials science engineering from the University of California at Berekely, and various faculty and industry advisors. The team is designing and building a mountain bike using FSW; completing metallurgical and mechanical testing of simulation joints; drafting and filing a patent for the frames and sub-assemblies; and generating a business plan. Interlink plans to target the high-performance mountain bike market.
Many restaurants serve fountain drinks made of mixed syrup and CO2. Servers and managers monitor syrup levels to ensure quality beverages with manual techniques, such as observing the color of the drinks, lifting the syrup canisters to judge weight, and visually observing containers. In a busy establishment, syrup levels often run low or completely out before a supervisor or server notices, causing poor customer service, poor quality drinks, or interrupted service.
To remedy this problem, six undergraduates students developed the SOS, or Syrup Out Signal. SOS monitors fluid levels in CO2 canisters and syrup boxes and alerts restaurant staff when the ingredients reach low levels. With syrup in the tubing, the circuit generates a steady voltage output. But when air replaces the syrup in the line, the voltage lowers. This sudden change in voltage causes a radio transmitter to signal a receiver, which supplies current to a light-emitting diode and turns on a warning light, alerting the user to low syrup levels.
Every year, waterborne viruses and bacteria kill millions of children under the age of five. Improved water supply and sanitation could prevent many of these deaths; currently, however, one out of four people lack access to clean water. Though the technology for disinfecting drinking water exists, high costs make it inaccessible for many. In response to this problem, this E-Team has developed the UV-Tube, a highly effective method for disinfecting drinking water that is also cost effective. The UV-Tube, a very simple technology, eliminates harmful microorganisms directly from the water source, using ultraviolet (UV) light as a disinfectant. The UV-Tube technology is environmentally friendly, deactivating pathogens without generating harmful byproducts. In addition, the technology adapts to different communities and circumstances; users can construct the UV-Tube from locally available parts. It also operates passively, without extensive maintenance or monitoring.
Currently the E-Team plans to integrate changes from their studies into a new design, investigate additional potential materials (recycled plastic soda bottles, stainless steel, and pottery), redesign the UV-Tube, and test the new design in a real-world situation. The team hopes to complete a list of potential materials and adaptations for users in all types of geographic locations.
The UV-Tube project consists of several graduate students, one in civil and environmental engineering with field experience in Patzcuaro, and the other in energy and resources. They work with an undergraduate in environmental science, a member of the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, and the director of the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory, who is also a faculty member, and are advised by Dr. Lloyd Connelly, a representative of the Energy Sector Management Assistance Group, and the president of Grupo Interdisciplinario de Technolgías Rural y Apropiada in Patzcuaro.
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