The University of Connecticut’s School of Engineering has secured a highly selective federal grant to attract graduate students who will specialize in medical devices for public health.
The U.S. Department of Education recently notified the biomedical engineering department that it will receive a three-year grant totaling $879,000 as part of the Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need (GAANN) program. It will support six graduate students, with Biomedical Engineering Department Head Ki Chon administering the program. Dr. Cato Laurencin and Assistant Professor Sabato Santaniello are the co-primary investigators of the grant.
“This is the foremost fellowship program to train and prepare students for careers in academia, industry, government and entrepreneurship. For UConn BME to be a part of such a prestigious program speaks to the great strides the department has made in such a short period of time. We are proud to be a part of the ongoing collaboration between UConn and the Department of Education,” said Chon.
The program will provide the training necessary to create and design advanced medical devices from both an engineering and biological standpoint- these devices require a deep understanding of the workings of the human body, in addition to the advanced engineering skills that UConn engineering graduate students are known for.
The GAANN program fellowships assist graduate students with excellent records who demonstrate financial need and plan to purse doctoral degrees in their course of study. The GAANN program gives selected grad students a fellowship that covers tuition and provides a stipend, allowing the student to focus on their research topic. The fellows must be citizens, nationals or permanent residents of the United States.The Medical Devices for Public Health GAANN is focused on increasing the number of underrepresented minorities and women in the STEM fields. The Program administrators will invite underrepresented students to work in their laboratories, work with existing minority recruitment efforts at UConn and visit Minority Serving Institutions to recruit directly to the program.
GAANN fellows and faculty will participate in activities organized by professional societies dedicated to underrepresented groups, such as the National Society of Black Engineers and the Society of Women Engineers.
First year BME graduate student, Stephanie Knowlton, has been awarded a National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) Fellowship. The award amount is $138,000 ($34k/year as stipend, $12k/year to institution for tuition and fees), and the fellowship period is 5 years. The NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines who are pursuing research-based Master’s and doctoral degrees at accredited United States institutions.
For more on the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program see the website here
Stephanie Knowlton earned her BS from UConn in 2015 as and is now a graduate student in Biomedical Engineering. Her current research interests include using 3D printing and magnetic levitation to develop medical technologies which can ultimately be applied in clinical settings and enhance healthcare in developing countries. Stephanie is a member of Phi Sigma Rho, a sorority for women in engineering and the Biomedical Engineering Society.
This past year has been a productive one for BME, as faculty have received seven research awards in the amount of $690K.
Profs. Kevin Brown (Co-Investigator) and Melanie Fewings (PI) received a $200K grant from the NASA/JPL. Dr. Brown’s portion is $80K.
Prof. Sangamesh Kumbar received an $80K grant for development of an Indo-US Knowledge R&D Networked Joint Center on Orthopaedic Regeneration from the Indo-US Science and Technology Forum organization.
Prof. Ki Chon has received a two year grant from the Naval Submarine Medical Research Laboratory in the amount of $130K to examine the effect of wakefulness on auditory cued visual search.
Prof. Guoan Zheng has published a new textbook on Fourier Ptychographic Imaging: a Matlab Tutorial, in April of 2016.
Dr. Lakshimi Lair is the editor of a new book on Injectable Hydrogels for Regenerative Engineering.
Drs. Kristen Morgan and Insoo Kim joined the BME faculty as tenure-track assistant professors in the summer of 2016. Dr. Kim’s primary appointment will be in the division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine of the School of Medicine. Dr. Kim will have a joint appointment with BME as his research background is in medical wearable devices. This appointment will provide more research and educational synergies between BME and UCHC. Dr. Morgan will work very closely with the Kinesiology department’s faculty in the area of biomechanics. She will have a lab in the basement of Gampel Pavilion to foster synergistic collaborations with some of the Kinesiology faculty who have their labs there.
Prof. Chon created a new company named MobileSense Technologies. The company will license some of the intellectual property which was originally developed by Dr. Chon’s lab and subsequently filed for full patent application by UConn.
The Department of Biomedical Engineering (BME) at the University of Connecticut invites applications for two tenure-track faculty positions at the Assistant or Associate Professor level, with an expected start date of August 23, 2016. The Department of BME (http://www.bme.uconn.edu) offers an ABET-accredited undergraduate major as well as masters and doctoral programs in biomedical engineering. The research specialties of particular interest in this search are: Rehabilitation Engineering, Neural Engineering, Biomedical Devices and/or Telemedicine, but strong candidates in other biomedical engineering disciplines are welcome to apply. UConn and the Department of BME, in coordination with the Department of Kinesiology in the School of Health and Natural Resources, and the Department of Medicine at UConn Health Center, are committed to growth and research excellence in Rehabilitation Engineering. Therefore, it is expected that a new faculty member in Rehabilitation Engineering will work closely with the Department of Kinesiology which is consistently ranked as one of the top three graduate programs in the country. There will also be ample opportunity for research collaboration with the Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine within the Department of Medicine at UConn Health Center as it is also in the process of recruiting additional faculty with research focus in hearing protection and prosthetics, ergonomic workplace design and human factors engineering.
The University of Connecticut (UConn) is entering a transformational period of growth supported by the $1.7B Next Generation Connecticut (http://nextgenct.uconn.edu/) and the $1B Bioscience Connecticut (http://biosciencect.uchc.edu/) investments and a bold new Academic Plan: Path to Excellence (http://issuu.com/uconnprovost/docs/academic-plan-single-hi-optimized_1). As part of these initiatives, UConn has hired more than 450 new faculty at all ranks during the past three years. We are pleased to continue these investments by inviting applications for faculty positions in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the rank of Assistant Professor. The Department of Biomedical Engineering has 33 faculty members, 435 undergraduate and 148 graduate students, and actively engages in research in medical imaging and cancer diagnostics, medical instruments including wearable devices, bioinformatics and regenerative engineering. Other key strengths for the department include neuroengineering, biomechanics and biomaterials.
The successful candidate will be expected to contribute to research & scholarship through extramural funding (in disciplines where applicable), high quality publications, impact as measured through citations, performances & exhibits (in disciplines where applicable), national recognition as through honorific awards. In the area of teaching, successful candidate will share a deep commitment to effective instruction at the undergraduate and graduate levels, development of innovative courses and mentoring of students in research, outreach and professional development. Successful candidates will also be expected to broaden participation among members of under-represented groups; demonstrate through their research, teaching, and/or public engagement the richness of diversity in the learning experience; integrate multicultural experiences into instructional methods and research tools; leadership in developing pedagogical techniques designed to meet the needs of diverse learning styles and intellectual interests.
Minimum Qualifications: Earned Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering or closely related field; a proven record of excellence in teaching; demonstrated potential in establishing a successful research and scholarship, deep commitment to promoting diversity through their academic and research programs. Equivalent foreign degrees are acceptable.
Preferred Qualifications: Expertise in Biomedical Engineering and outstanding record of research and scholarship excellence; commitment to effective teaching, integrating technology into instruction, on-line instruction; the ability to contribute through research and teaching, and/or public engagement to the diversity and excellence of the learning experience; experience as a post-doctoral or industry researcher in a research-competitive environment; exposure to developing research grant applications to federal funding agencies; interest in collaboration with industry.
This is a full-time, 9-month, tenure track position with an anticipated start date of August 23, 2016. The successful candidate’s primary academic appointment will be at the Storrs campus with the possibility of assignment at one of UConn’s regional campuses. Rank and salary will be commensurate with qualifications and experience.
Go to www.jobs.uconn.edu Select “Apply Now” to be redirected to Academic Jobs Online to complete your application. Please submit the following: cover letter, curriculum vitae, teaching statement (including teaching philosophy, teaching experience, commitment to effective learning, concepts for new course development, etc.); research and scholarship statement (innovative concepts that will form the basis of academic career, experience in proposal development, mentorship of graduate students, etc.); commitment to diversity statement (including broadening participation, integrating multicultural experiences in instruction and research and pedagogical techniques to meet the needs of diverse learning styles, etc.); sample journal articles or books to Husky Hire (www.jobs.uconn.edu). Please choose one area of specialization from Rehabilitation, Neural engineering, and Biomedical Instrumentation/Devices/Telemedicine and indicate it in your cover letter. Any questions should be sent to: email@example.com.
Additionally, please follow the instructions in Academic Jobs Online to direct five reference writers to submit letters of reference on your behalf. Evaluation of applicants will begin immediately and continue until the position is filled. Employment of the successful candidate is contingent upon the successful completion of a pre-employment criminal background check. (Search # 2016263)
For more information regarding the Department of Biomedical Engineering please visit the department website at https://www.bme.uconn.edu/.
All employees are subject to adherence to the State Code of Ethics which may be found at http://www.ct.gov/ethics/site/default.asp.
The University of Connecticut is committed to building and supporting a multicultural and diverse community of students, faculty and staff. The diversity of students, faculty and staff continues to increase, as does the number of honors students, valedictorians and salutatorians who consistently make UConn their top choice. More than 100 research centers and institutes serve the University’s teaching, research, diversity, and outreach missions, leading to UConn’s ranking as one of the nation’s top research universities. UConn’s faculty and staff are the critical link to fostering and expanding our vibrant, multicultural and diverse University community. As an Affirmative Action/Equal Employment Opportunity employer, UConn encourages applications from women, veterans, people with disabilities and members of traditionally underrepresented populations.
Event: BME Seminar with Michael C.K. Khoo PhD
Location: JRB 204 at Storrs
Time: 12:00 pm
Details of Event:
BME Seminar with Michael C.K. Khoo PhD
During the last two decades, the number of undergraduate programs in BME and bioengineering (BE) has grown exponentially in the United States. In 1992, only 20 programs were accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET), the nonprofit organization that evaluates engineering programs (see “What the Biomedical Engineer Has to Offer: A Brief Explanation of Engineering Program Accreditation”). Ten years later, 33 programs were accredited, and by 2012, 87 programs were accredited . With this increased program growth, more BE graduates are joining the workforce as well as attending graduate and medical schools.
As recently as November 2013, Money Magazine picked BME as its number one career choice (out of 100 top occupations), with a predicted ten-year job growth of 61.7%  (see also Jennifer Berglund’s article in this issue, “The Great Divide”). However, the question remains: Are B.S. BME graduates truly able to find positions in the medical device industry, a natural employer of these graduates?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 15,700 biomedical engineers were employed in 2010, and that number is predicted to increase by 61.7% in 2020 to 25,400 . But this large projected increase is deceiving for several reasons. First, the BLS counts several types of engineers as biomedical engineers, including all types of engineers at a medical device company, most of whom are electrical and mechanical engineers . More accurately, approximately 25% of biomedical engineers work in the medical device industry . Second, this high growth rate is not equivalent to high numbers of employed biomedical engineers. The BLS counted 15,700 engineers, some of whom were biomedical engineers, in 2010. In the same year, the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) counted 3,670 BME B.S. graduates . Even if 15,700 engineers in 2010 were all truly biomedical engineers, the probability that 23% would retire so that new BME graduates could replace them was low.
In January 2014, the BLS updated its employment statistics and projections for 2012–2022. In 2012, the BLS counted 19,400 biomedical engineers. It now only projects an increase of 27% in 2022 to 24,600 biomedical engineers . In 2012, the ASEE recorded 4,374 B.S. BME graduates .
When B.S. BME graduates apply for positions, they hope that their skill sets match employer needs. In a recent survey, medical device managers were asked to rate the importance of various practical skills on a Likert scale of zero (not important) to four (very important) . The 13 respondents were all involved in hiring engineers, with titles that ranged from vice president of product development and director of R&D to research fellow. They had worked an average of 23 ± 9 years in the medical device industry.
These managers’ ratings of nine practical skills are given in Table 1. The practical skills rated either somewhat very important or very important by at least 69% (nine out of 13) of the managers were (in descending order): oral and written communication, business practices, practical experience, project management, and vital signs devices.
Regarding the match between BE/BME curricula and medical device industry needs, medical device executives had differing viewpoints. Stuart Gallant, vice president of product and business development at Pro- Dex, an original equipment manufacturer supplier in Irvine, California, has spent 42 years in the medical device industry working on devices ranging from implantable and noninvasive cardiovascular devices and anesthesia/patient-monitoring devices to kidney dialysis, endocrinology, and orthopedic devices. Gallant began his career at Medtronic and has been hiring B.S. engineers for 35 years, including electrical, mechanical, chemical, and biomedical engineers. He specifically hires B.S. biomedical engineers for “lab work, data analysis, and mathematical modeling.”
When asked to comment on the B.S. BME curriculum, Gallant stated, “I’m not a big fan. The degree does not provide core disciplinary knowledge. Regardless of the school, graduates do not have depth in a specific engineering discipline. The curriculum provides a broad-based background but no specific discipline to solve engineering problems. New graduates can conduct lab analysis but can’t design circuits, software, or algorithms.” He added, “Unless this degree is a stepping stone for grad school, it doesn’t have a lot of value. If you have this degree, you will be limited in companies that can offer you a job.”
Conversely, Judson Laabs prefers to hire biomedical engineers for systems positions. He believes that the undergraduate BME curriculum “breeds the most flexible engineers … who take medical devices seriously.” Other types of engineers, like “electrical engineers, may not have a medical background … and may not realize that the stakes are higher (for patient safety), than in other fields.” His advice to new graduates is to find work in a geographic area known for health care activity. “Once you are integrated and established at a company, it becomes an advantage to have a BME background because you have a unique perspective on how to solve a lot of problems,” he added. Laabs is currently the director of program management at Baxter Healthcare. He has worked 16 years in the medical device industry on devices ranging from critical care monitors and noninvasive continuous cardiac output monitors to large-volume infusion pumps and automated peritoneal dialysis systems. He began his career at GE Medical Systems, worked at CardioDynamics, and has been at Baxter Healthcare for ten years. Two years ago, as senior manager of systems engineering, he managed 30 systems engineers, half of whom were BMEs.
Based on this small, sample-sized survey and set of interviews, the current undergraduate BE/BME curricula may not be meeting medical device industry needs. This is not the first time this mismatch has been identified. In a 2012 IEEE Institute article titled “What It Takes to Be a Bioengineer,” IEEE Life Fellow Kenneth Foster stated, “if you intend to work in industry, you should pick up traditional engineering skills such as signal and image processing and software design so you can compete for entry-level design jobs” . Similarly, in ASEE Prism, James Tien, dean of engineering at the University of Miami in Florida, advised interested students to “major in electrical [engineering] for your undergraduate; it’s very easy at the master’s level then to pick up the [biology] and be as effective as anybody” .
In the ABET Criteria for Accrediting Engineering Programs, “an ability to communicate effectively” is one of the student outcomes of General Criterion 3. However, the BE/BME program criteria do not specifically call out any of the other practical skills that were highly rated in the survey. While capstone design projects were not specifically part of the survey, design projects give students a first experience in engineering design, and this experience is the foundation upon which graduates conduct design in industry positions. Historically, many BE/BME programs have had difficulty fulfilling this part of “General Criterion 5: Curriculum.” Often, this occurs because programs have students conduct research projects rather than complete design projects. To address this mismatch, in 2008, John Gassert and John Enderle, who were then both members of the Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES) Accreditation Activities Committee (AAC), identified the differences between design and research projects in IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Magazine , which is now known as IEEE Pulse. BMES AAC oversees the annual evaluation of BE/BME programs for the ABET.
Ultimately, students reading this may wonder if they should major in BE/BME. It is important to reiterate that the undergraduate BE/BME curricula provide a strong foundation for graduate BE/BME programs. Undergraduate students are exposed to a breadth of BME topics, enabling them to effectively choose a specialty for their Ph.D. or M.S. degree work. For those students wishing to work in industry immediately after graduation, students are advised to consider attending a B.S. and/or M.S. BME degree program that emphasizes the elements of design control, which may be taught within a capstone design course.
In addition, after graduation from an ABET-accredited undergraduate program, biomedical engineers are well suited to become quality engineers in the medical device industry. As defined by the FDA, quality systems are established by manufacturers “to help ensure that their products consistently meet applicable requirements and specifications” . (Yes, applicable requirements and standards can be found in the engineering standards that are called out in ABET Criterion 5.) A quality engineer conducts testing and/or risk analysis before a medical device is cleared or approved by the FDA to ensure that manufacturer requirements are met. Because BME graduates are capable of “solving BE/BME problems, including those associated with the interaction between living and nonliving systems,” as described in the program criteria, they have experience in testing, which can range from bench testing to animal testing. Other types of engineering graduates do not possess the physiologic knowledge necessary for animal testing.
It can be argued that quality engineering is more important than product development (design) engineering, as quality engineers are the last line of safety between a newly market-released device and patients. In the widely reviled Guidant implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) design defect case that caused an FDA recall, quality engineers first discovered the short circuit that caused ICDs to malfunction when their patients needed an electrical countershock to survive. Guidant ignored its quality engineers’ advice and continued selling defective inventory, which resulted in the largest U.S. Department of Justice medical device settlement to date of US$296 million , . Vice president of quality is a common medical device industry position.
As noted by Laabs, biomedical engineers are also well suited to become systems engineers in the medical device industry because of their cross-disciplinary experience. System engineers focus “on defining customer needs and required functionality early in the development cycle, documenting requirements, and then proceeding with design synthesis and system validation while considering the complete problem: operations, cost and schedule, performance, training and support, test, manufacturing, and disposal” . This type of engineering activity, while not specifically mandated by design control, is becoming increasingly emphasized by the FDA as it moves to minimize the annual number of medical device recalls , . The International Council on Systems Engineering recently created a Biomedical and Healthcare Working Group to identify, develop, and tailor biomedical best practices .
However, if students want to design medical devices immediately after graduation, they may consider taking extra electrical engineering (EE) or mechanical engineering (ME) courses, or even double majoring in EE or ME as well as BME. These extra engineering courses may enable graduates to design, rather than just qualify, electrical or mechanical medical devices. There are substantially more FDA-approved and FDA-cleared EE and ME medical devices than tissue medical devices.
Exposure to the medical device industry through a summer internship or an industry-sponsored capstone design project may also differentiate a graduating senior during a job interview. Another option may be to graduate with a general engineering degree, which may provide engineering depth through system theory and engineering design courses and the opportunity for a few elective courses in specialties such as BME. The curricula for a general engineering degree, which is also known as engineering science or engineering physics, vary widely. General engineering degrees, with emphasis on system theory and engineering design, can be found at schools such as Harvey Mudd College and Olin College.
BME seniors should also be open to working in other industries. Other industries that may hire graduates include regulatory companies (such as UL), pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, and consulting companies (such as Accenture). BME’s broad-based curriculum, which includes “the application of engineering principles to human physiology,” is attractive to these employers. Since these industries may not interview on campus, BME seniors may need to contact these employers directly about open positions.
As BME professors, we can assist our students in career planning. Our students are very talented and frequently enter as freshmen with the highest mean SAT scores compared to students from other engineering departments. We can discuss the variety of interesting medical device positions for which they can apply, which include quality engineering and systems engineering as well as product development.
We can also assist our students by reevaluating our curricula. Curriculum reevaluation activities would be consistent with ABET “General Criterion 2: Program Educational Objectives.” From 2009 to 2010, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) conducted surveys of ME department heads (n = 79), industry supervisors (n = 381), and early career mechanical engineers (n = 635) to better understand what topics should be taught to their undergraduate students in preparation for industry positions. This multipart study was called ASME Vision 2030 . Undergraduate curricula study recommendations included “offering more authentic practice-based engineering experiences, developing students’ professional skills to a higher standard, and increased faculty expertise in professional practice” . A similar survey of medical device supervisors and early career medical device engineers could provide useful inputs for enhancements to the BE/BME curricula, which could enable our graduates to design medical devices.
A decade ago, the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) conducted BE/BME program surveys to determine where B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. graduates were employed. In 2002, 30 institutions, with 445 B.S. graduates, reported that 30% had industry positions, 54% went on to graduate school, and 16% were still seeking employment . In 2007, 35 institutions, with 1,389 B.S. graduates, reported that 33% obtained a job, 41% continued their education, 7% were still seeking employment, 3% were not looking, and 16% were unknown . It may be time to survey institutions again to determine the percentages of B.S. graduates seeking further education or employment. In January 2015, the BMES Accreditation Activities Committee recommended to the Academic Council of AIMBE that the Academic Council survey where their graduates go.
In summary, although BE/BME undergraduate programs may not realize the job forecasts that the media has predicted, graduates of ABET-accredited programs who do not plan to attend graduate school are well suited to become quality engineers and systems engineers in the medical device industry and may also find opportunities in regulatory companies, pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, and consulting companies. Looking forward, ABET-accredited programs should continue to engage with medical device supervisors and early career medical device engineers to determine how best the BME curricula can be enhanced so graduates are better prepared for product design in the medical device industry.
We invite academic and industry readers to join our discussion by contributing comments.
UConn School of Engineering Student Spotlight Series Episode One
Delaney & Carolyn Discuss Engineering
Freshman engineering students Delaney Turner (Biomedical Engineering) and Carolyn Williams (Environmental Engineering) met when the two attended the School of Engineering’s intensive summer BRIDGE program in 2011. In this video, they describe their choice to pursue engineering degrees and how their training will help them build successful careers.
Interviews filmed on location at the Connecticut State Museum of Natural History. The museum is part of CLAS at UConn. Visit:http://www.mnh.uconn.edu/ for more information on exhibits and events.
Kate Craddock ’16 (Biomedical Engineering, ENGR) and Ryan Rood ’15 (Biomedical Engineering, ENGR) were awarded a Spring 2014 UConn IDEA Grant for their project, “Technology-Based Alternate Note-Taking Methods.”
They will work with the UConn Center for Students with Disabilities to engage in a study on various note-taking methods and study habits that have the potential to improve students’ organization, retention of the material and their overall learning experience. The grant was one of 17 awarded this semester.
The UConn IDEA Grant program is open to all majors at all of the university’s campuses, and awards funding to undergraduates as a means to support projects designed by the students themselves. These can include artistic endeavors, community service initiatives, traditional research projects, entrepreneurial ventures, and other innovative projects. Proposals for the UConn IDEA Grant represented a variety of disciplines, ranging from fine arts to marine sciences.
Secor Water, LLC and Dura Biotech, two student-led startup businesses based on technologies developed at UConn and nurtured through UConn Engineering’s Experiential Technology Entrepreneurship course, were awarded $10,000 grants from the inaugural CTNext Entrepreneur Innovation Awards(EIA) managed by Connecticut Innovations.
The EIA (formerly Innovation Voucher) program awards competitive grants each month to promising startup businesses across Connecticut. Twenty-five startups applied for EIA funding in February. The applications were carefully vetted by a committee of entrepreneurship professionals at Connecticut Innovations, which selected six finalists, including Secor and Dura Biotech, for the presentation portion of the competition, which was held on February 27th at the Bijou Theater in Bridgeport. Before a panel of five expert judges – comprising company CEOs, mentors, investment professionals and other entrepreneurship gurus – a representative from each of the six startups presented a five-minute oral marketing “pitch” followed by three minutes of challenging questions from the panel. All six startup finalists garnered EIA funding; Secor and Dura Biotech were the only student-led startup award recipients.
“This was the first Entrepreneur Innovation Awards event and we couldn’t have asked for a better group of companies and innovative project ideas,” says Claire Leonardi, CEO of Connecticut Innovations. “The event assembled an enthusiastic group of entrepreneurs and startups that will contribute to the positive growth of businesses in Connecticut.”
CTNext is a statewide network of entrepreneurs, mentors, service providers and others involved in helping Connecticut’s most promising startups succeed and grow. EIA grants enable startups to invest in activities such as prototyping, performance and compliance testing, IP assessment, market research, licensing and other activities that will help the young businesses succeed.
Dura Biotech, headed by mechanical engineering Ph.D. candidate Eric Sirois (B.S. Biomedical Engineering ’09), is developing the LowPro Valve, a transcatheter aortic valve (TAV) featuring a crimped size that is 40 percent smaller than any valve currently on the market or in clinical trials. The thinner leaflet is made possible by Dura Valve Leaflet Technology, a patent-pending stress-reducing leaflet design that was developed at the University of Connecticut’s Tissue Mechanics Lab. After it passes all regulatory hurdles, the LowPro Valve will enable more patients to undergo the safer trans-femoral TAV procedure. Dura Biotech, which is a UConn Technology Incubation Program (TIP) participant, was founded by former UConn associate professor Wei Sun, a world expert in heart valve mechanics.
Sirois has been refining the company’s business approach and securing bridge funding since May 2012. In early 2013, he pitched the business before an audience of entrepreneurship experts associated with the Tolland-based XcellR8 group. Sirois notes that the company will continue proof of concept activities for the LowPro Valve technology before seeking formal FDA bench testing and animal trials. Dura Biotech will apply the grant money to transition the LowPro Valve from a prototype to a product ready for animal implantation. Commenting on the award, Sirois says, “This achievement is the result of years of hard work by our design, fabrication, and testing personnel. I am so proud of our team and what they have accomplished. I am also very grateful to the TIP mentors, Mary Anne Rooke and Paul Parker, and especially to Dr. Hadi Bozorgmanesh for their steady guidance along the way.”
Secor Water CEO Matthew Cremins (B.S. Mechanical Engineering ’13), who is pursuing an M.S. degree at UConn, and CTO Yanbing Guo, a post-doctoral researcher at UConn, co-founded the company in 2013. Their product is the Secor SmartWell+, which uses an advanced filtration system to purify tap water and then add minerals, flavors, and/or carbonation to create a custom-tailored beverage. The system incorporates a QR-code reader that stores subscriber profiles. In addition to their $10,000 award, Secor Water also won the judges’ award of an additional $2,000.
Cremins says the Secor team will use the grant monies to develop and manufacture a beta prototype that will be presented to the School of Engineering within several months. He notes, “This honor would not have been possible without the hard work of our entire Secor Water team. Special thanks to David Ritter, Dillon Jones, and Tomasz Walczak, whose industriousness and passion have elevated Secor to the next level. Yanbing and I are very grateful to be working alongside these talented individuals.”
“Eric and Matthew are two great examples of the talent coming from UConn,” says Leonardi. “We’re hoping this funding helps propel them to the next level and encourages other startups to apply for funding in the future.”
Both teams emerged from the Experiential Technology Entrepreneurship I and II course taught by Professor of Practice Dr. Hadi Bozorgmanesh.
Each year, all senior engineering students engage in capstone design courses. These provide hands-on learning opportunities and expose them to the challenges and satisfactions of solving real-world dilemmas, from the problem definition stage to prototype development. In the case of sponsored projects, teams work closely with the sponsoring company, which provides financial support, advising and the design challenge. In exchange, students research the problem, conceive alternate solutions, design and refine one device or method, construct a working prototype, and provide the sponsoring company regular reports as well as a working prototype. Throughout the process, students apply the core concepts they learned in the classroom to an actual design project.
The culmination of this year’s senior design experience, Senior Design Demonstration Day, took place on May 3, 2013 at Gampel Pavilion in Storrs. On display were over 150 innovative engineering projects designed and developed by teams of engineering seniors. In this video, we cover not only the Demonstration Day festivities, but also segments of meetings across the spring semester as we shadowed three Senior Design teams to show viewers an inside glimpse into the design process. For more information about Senior Design, please visit our senior design webpage here on the BME department site.
Matthew Harmon (MSE/UCHC) (Advisor: Dr. Sangamesh Kumbar) was awarded the 2014 UNCF-Merck Graduate Science Research Dissertation Fellowship. The award is to assist African American students with preparation for their dissertation in the ‘biomedically relevant life or physical sciences and engineering.’ The award includes ‘a Fellowship Stipend of to $43,500 for the award recipient and a Research Grant of up to $10,000.’ The fellowship is a part of the UNCF-Merck Science Initiative to aid in the ‘training and development of world-class African American biomedical scientists.’