National Student Design Competition:

Innovations in Accessible Medical Instrumentation[1]


Goal-Directed Design Competition:

·         Two categories per year

·         Selected by Design Committee (biomedical engineering faculty, engineer(s) from industry, and consumers with disabilities)

o        One more biomechanical, one more bioelectrical/biocomputing

·         Funding for roughly 5 entries per category per year

·         Needs, background, goals, specifications, budget and evaluation criteria will be disseminated

o        Formulated by Design Committee, based largely on needs-assessment by focus groups of consumers and practitioners, followed by review of existing products on the market and consultation with relevant medical equipment manufacturers.


·        Student design teams from bio/biomedical engineering programs (other engineering disciplines and industrial design programs may also apply).

Process for Phase I: Design Competition

·         August 1: Announcement and solicitation

o        For each area: Identification of need, problem statement, goals, evaluation criteria

·         September 15: Proposed problem-solving plan submitted by student team (with letter of support of faculty advisor, and institutional approval).

·         October 1:  Design Committee completes review, with those given the “green light” provided with funding (typical budget: $2,000)  

·         Due date (tentative): May 1 of each year

o        Requirement – that students read web-based documents on accessible medical device design, and in their final electronic reports, include a section that addresses how principles of accessible and universal design were used in their design strategy.

o       Primary vehicles for dissemination:  web site, and annual IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (IEEE/EMBS) conference

Process for Phase II: 

·         In June of each year, selected entries that are deemed of superior design and to have commercial potential will receive a “green light” from the Design Project Committee and will be given additional financial support for faculty advisor and student to work on Phase II design and evaluation (may include development support for students and their faculty supervisors).  The team also has access to RERC staff and resources for engineering and consumer evaluation.

Intended Byproduct - Curricular Support for:

For more information, contact Dr. John Enderle ( or

Dr. Jack Winters (


[1] Sponsored by the Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center (RERC) on Accessible Medical Instrumentation, a Center of Excellence funded by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, U.S. Department of Education.  PI: Jack Winters,