An adverse effect of chemotherapy is that it lowers patients' white and red blood cell production as it attacks their rapidly dividing cancer cells. Progressive reduction in red blood cell counts leads to anemia, while reduction in white blood cells leaves an individual susceptible to infection. In the event of infection, mortality rates for chemotherapy patients can reach as high as 70% if the patients are not promptly treated with antibiotics. Thus, quick detection of infection is critical to maintaining chemotherapy patients' health. Because fever is an indicator of infection, chemotherapy patients and their caretakers must monitor patients' temperatures to ensure patient health. When fever is detected, patients require prompt medical attention.
The ChemoTemp E-Team has developed a fever monitoring and reporting device for chemotherapy patients. Although a variety of related technologies are available on the market to track fever, these products do not provide the comprehensive service offered by ChemoTemp. The device accurately measures patient temperature, identifies fever and risk of fever, and reports fever conditions to the patient and/or caregiver. Patients can wear ChemoTemp comfortably for long periods of time. The E-Team has nearly completed an alpha version of the device, and plan to finish circuit and algorithm developments in the next phase of the project. The E-Team has conducted a market and patent search and found that no like products exist on the market specifically for chemotherapy patients. The team consists of twenty-three undergraduate students from the Junior/Senior Engineering Clinic course, including students from electrical and computer engineering, mechanical engineering, and possibly life sciences students. These students work with a team of twelve graduate students and the clinic course professor.
Each year, approximately 140,000 patients are affected by deficit of the seventh cranial nerve, which provides signals for the facial expression muscles for one side of the face. Of these patients, about half are unlikely to recover, and many sustain permanent damage to the eye. Current treatments for this disorder include sewing the eyelids together, connecting other nerves to the facial nerve, and implanting gold weights into the upper eyelid. Unfortunately, these treatments can disfigure patients and do not restore dynamic restoration of blinking.
This E-Team is developing a prosthetic device to facilitate blinking in patients suffering from facial nerve palsy. The device will consist of a number of tiny silicon chips that act as both actuators and sensors. The devices will be implanted in upper eyelids, and function as sensors on the unaffected side to pace the actuators on the affected side. The dual sensing/actuating nature of the system will allow the device to sense any recovery of the nerve on the affected side and calibrate itself accordingly. Power is provided to the chips by a device contained on prosthetic eyeglasses with a powering antenna wound in the lens holders, and a battery in the earpieces.
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.
In 2000, approximately 40,000 marrow transplants were performed worldwide. In the field of bone marrow transplantation (BMT), an autologous transplant involves bone marrow harvesting from the patient, and feeding the marrow back to the same patient following treatment with high-dose chemotherapy. An allogeneic transplant refers to the procedure of harvesting bone marrow from a healthy donor and giving it to the patient who has received high doses of chemotherapy and radiation.
Because both of these harvesting methods are expensive and tedious, the MarrowMiner E-Team developed an innovative device and method for rapidly harvesting bone marrow and the stem cells bone marrow contains. The team incorporated as StemCor Systems.
In 2008, the team signed an agreement with Hospira, Inc. to develop and commercialize StemCor's proprietary system for the harvest of bone marrow.
The traditional method for resisting a flood involves filling individual bags with sand and stacking them to form a flood berm. This method is costly and slow, however, and requires large amounts of manual labor. This E-Team developed a new invention, the Flood Floatation Wall (FFW), which addresses the problems associated with traditional methods of resisting floods. The FFW is self-deploying: the user pre-positions the device at the anticipated flood level and then evacuates the area as needed. It consists of a flexible tubular flood chamber, skirts, and an air-filled flotation collar. As floodwater enters the flood chamber, it expands the chamber and activates the flotation collar, which rises to block incoming water. The FFW incorporates reasonable manufacturing costs, ease of transport, reusability and functional utility in one.
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.
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.