BME/ME/EE/CompE  Projects Proposed 2005

Projects marked with a strikethrough have been taken.  If you are interested in them, you may wish to see if the current team needs a new member...  Suggested majors for each project are indicated in red...  Students looking for team members are indicated in red text with yellow highlight.  The design faculty member who solicited this project is indicated thus:  King,  Barnett, Kinser, or Dozier.  This is the first person, generally, that you should also contact when interested in a project.  Please do not approach project sponsors one at a time if you have a group interested in the project.

All students please note:  The collegiate inventors competition (sponsored by the USPTO) is held each year (2005 will be posted) please see for details.  Consider entering this contest this coming Spring.

contact information/project description
1.  Dr. Bill Walsh,  (also Dan Lindstrom)  (Neonatology) King
1.  Program a face recognition computer to recognize syndromes with abnormal faces (using commercially available software.)  CompE, BME

2. We have new ventilators which  keep track of each breath the infant takes I would like to report to other neonatologists the number of times an hour a baby fights against the ventilator by downloading data from the ventilator. The project would be to download and analyze data from a neonatal ventilator.  CompE, BME  Taken by BMEs Jessica Rodriguez, Kia Jones, Kristen Trulear, Cynthia Rupp

3.  The "Holy Grail" project would still be to determine the resting lung volume of a neonate non-invasively. Figuring out the residual volume in a container in vitro would be the first step.  (Completion of a 2004 project). ME, BME
2.  Dr. John P. Wikswo [] [34124] King

1.  Tissue Culture Bioreactors with Matrix Enabled Capillary Scaffold (MECS):  The development of bioreactors that contain externally perfused capillary beds represents the holy grail of tissue engineering.  The project will involve developing an environment in which microvascular endothelial cells can differentiate and form tubular structures.  The challenge is to devise a method by which these cells can be coaxed to form a complete network that supports a flow of perfusate.  We will continue work begun last year to develop the microfluidic systems, the support hardware, sensor and control systems, and the experimental techniques required to create a layered coculture system, inspired by the chick chorioallantoic membrane (CAM), that would bring perfused microenvironments to a new level of sophistication and realism.  As a logical extension of our ongoing work on microfabricated planar bioreactors, we will start with two thick layers of collagen that support a population of fibroblasts and the appropriate growth factors, and insert between them an intermediate microfluidic layer filled with endothelial cells supported by a microfabricated substrate.  Perfusion above and below the collagen layers would maintain the fibroblasts during the early stages of the culture.  We have devised a replica casting method that can produce a self-supporting channel structure, wherein the scaffold is a collection of open rectangular chamber walls, the spaces between which form the perfusion system.  This project will involve perfecting the replica-casting method, then using it to construct capillary-perfused bioreactors for basic research in cell biology and for tissue engineering, and then implementing the sensing and control techniques to support long-term stable cell culture.  Students will gain experience in clean room microfabrication, tissue culture, and computer control of tissue microenvironments. 

Bryan Gorman (BME), William Wong (BME), and Jon Felbinger (EE)

2.  Image Processing for Interferometric Determination of Protein Binding:  Goal.  Develop a software package for near real-time monitoring of the positional changes of fringes in the backscattered interference pattern of a device used to measure protein binding with ultra-high sensitivity.  Project includes design and development of the GUI interfaced with the linear ccd array, where the output of the array is captured, displayed on the screen, and processed using Fourier transform-based algorithm.  The computations must be done at a rate of 100 Hz or better.  The appropriate device drivers and .dlls are provided by the manufacturer. Properly documented code and well written manual are required.  Students will be mentored by individuals experienced in all hardware and software aspects of the problem.

Students: CS, EE, or BME with programming experience in windows environment.  Preferred language: MS Visual C++.  Over languages are also possible.  Knowledge of computer hardware is required. 

3. Herbert Y Meltzer, MD, Professor of Psychiatry and Pharmacology [] & Adam Prus, PhD, Post-doctoral student King

Bioengineering Proposal: My laboratory is engaged in research aimed at developing new drugs to treat cognitive disturbance in schizophrenia and the basic mechanisms of memory. In parallel with human studies,  we have a neuroscience lab which is engaged in studying the effects of known and experimental drugs for schizophrenia and cognition, receptor specific agents, and genetically altered mice to achieve our goals.  We combine two well-established methods in order to relate changes in neurotransmission to cognitive performance in laboratory rats and mice.  The first method is microdialysis, which consists of using a surgically implanted a dialysis probe in a particular brain region (i.e. prefrontal cortex) in order to sample extracellular neurotransmitter release, as determined by application upon high pressure liquid chromotography (HPLC).  The second method consists of using common maze models for rodent memory -  an 8-armradial arm maze and a T-maze.  These mazes can be used to evaluate long-term and short-term memory, respectively.  Because neurotransmitter levels can be altered simply by repeated handling of the animal during the experiment, providing a confound, it is important to  use automated mazes.  This can be achieved with motorized gates, motorized food pellet delivery and a video tracking system.  The full system would consist of a automated maze system that facilitates the movement of a lab rat though the maze while implanted with a microdialysis probe, with tubing from this probe running up to an HPLC.  The research to be conducted using this system will allow us to evaluate, and improve upon, the cognitive effects of experimental treatments for schizophrenia.  We would like help from an engineering student with the skills necessary to automate the behavioral studies, link it to video tracking, and computerized data analysis.  CompE, BME, EE, ME 

Samar Shah (BME), Tanvir Haque (BME), Siddartha Sanathanamurthy (EE)  We are still looking for a Mechanical Engineer (ME)

4. Dr. Raul Guzman, Vascular Surgery King
  Complete development of a system for quantification of foot ulcer size.  BME, CompE, EE
5.  Stoffels - Adamowicz, E. [], Technical University of Eindhoven King
I would appreciate if you could continue the project on the catheter [] . The follow-up would be testing semi-permeable membranes that close the catheter (pore sizes, numbers of holes, etc.). The catheter should operate under water. The idea is to get a good gas-liquid separation while getting the active species (small molecules/radicals) out from the plasma. This is technically possible, but needs some tinkering. Next step would be testing on animals, but I am not sure if you have contacts with doctors that a) have such facilities and b) are interested enough to work together on this project.  BME, EE, ME
6.  Dr. Peter Konrad, Director of Functional Neurosurgery [peter.konrad@vanderbilt.eduKing

I would like for someone to create a software program for a lap top computer that I could bring to the clinic or operating room in which we have a patient use a joy-stick to track an object on the screen that moves around and measures the time it takes to follow that object around the screen. I would also like to be able to output that timed response in some sort of excel file etc. We are trying to quantify ways in which Parkinson’s patients respond to brain stimulation therapy.

I can probably provide some simple money for joystick etc, and hope that the software could be transferred from the students computer to our computers when it is finished.  CompE, BME  taken by Erin Sikkel (BME) and Tiffany Feltman (BME)

7. Matthew B. Weinger, MD [] Contact: x68547 King
Lower cost mid-fidelity simulators like Laerdal's SimMan are now available for use in training clinicians, either individually or in teams, to handle clinical crises. For simulation to be effective, the experience must be as realistic (i.e., similar to actual clinical care environment) as possible. Unfortunately, the current version of SimMan does not accurately emulate a number of aspects of how patients actually respond to clinical disease conditions or medical interventions. In this design project, student teams will develop at least one of the following two additional simulated features, each of which will work in synchrony with SimMan's existing hardware and software.

1) Simulated movement in response to stimulation and to electrical cardioversion (shock therapy to correct an abnormal heart rhythm). A) This device will surreptitiously simulate patient arm and leg movement on instructor command. B) It will also detect the actual delivery of external electrical stimulus (minimum 20 joules) and produce an appropriate short-term shaking motion. C) In it's full embodiment, the device will also simulate a tonic-clonic seizure.  All majors needed

2) Placement of a central venous catheter using the guide-wire based Seldinger technique. In critically ill patients, it is often necessary to insert a plastic catheter through the neck or anterior chest into the heart to measure central filling pressures and to deliver potent drugs. This technique is not currently supported by SimMan and, in fact, is dangerous to the simulator's internal electronics due to the fluids involved. The new device will support proper technique for inserting the catheter, including haptic feedback and flashback of blood-like solution. It will also allow infusion of fluids through the catheter without contaminating the internal workings of the simulator. In addition, in the full embodiment, it would support the insertion of a pulmonary artery catheter.  All majors
Taken by Bobby Gibbons(BME), Evans Mize (BME), Daniel Schuler (EE/BME), Brandon Miller (BME), Robert Amponsah (EECE)
8. Wood, Brad (NIH/CC/DRD) []    301-496-7739 W     King
 1. micromachined needle array for diffuse drug distribution that allows for better and more even and bigger geometries when doing direct drug or therapeutic injections into tumors.  An array will be designed that will have special micromachined holes that will evenly distribute therapuetic throughout a tumor volume to minimize the number of needle insertions required to cover a volume with drug.    BME + ME
2. remote needle angulation device for use during CT fluoroscopy that allows 2 rotating dials for alteration of needle angles -1 in x-y axis, one in z or craniocaudal axis - in a remotely held needle that rotates about a center of motion on the patient's skin. This remote device facilitates needle placement for biopsy and tumor ablation during continuous CT fluoroscopy [to avoid radiation to physician's hands]  ME + BME
3. Work alongside materials engineer collaborator, BME, and MD, to design and reduce to practice the design of a biodegradable [graded resorption] endovascular device for filtration of migrating blood clots [inferior vena cava filter] . Final design and materials will be prototyped, and reduced to practice in a large animal swine model.  [provisional patent filed]   [may benefit from chem E, BME, materials science, but not required, since materials work could be done with collaborator]

4.  Proximity sensing mechanisms for a 6 degree of freedom robot for redundant safety mechanism.   ME+BME+EE

5.  Water coupling mechanisms for  high intensity focused ultrasound attached to a CT stereotactic frame. ME+BME

6.   Thermal ablation simulation system with haptic feedback and virtual needle to facilitate treatment planning and training of physicians learning thermal ablation like microwave, cryoablation, radiofrequency ablation, or brachytherapy.  BME+EE+CompE
9. Tim Clemons RN CNOR, Manager General Surgery, Trauma, Transplant, Vascular Clinics, 2-8997 [ King
Intake Chair- This device would weight patient, have a mounted automatic blood pressure cuff, temperature probe, measure respirations, heart rate and O2 saturation then automatically send this information to the STAR computerized intake form. If an abnormal vital sign is obtained a print out would occur at the nurses station alerting a professional care giver to the problem. The person entering the insurance information will control this chair. This device would speed up the time taken before the practitioner sees the patient. Potentially adding enough time to see a few extra patients during the day or sensing an emergent situation before a problem occurred.  BME, ME, CompE, EE taken by Jordan French BME, Tamin Sookor CompE, John Linsey CompE
10.  Dan Roden, Gordon Bernard, Jill Pulley, et al.  [ } King

A proposal for Bioengineering Student Project:  Sample acceptance and management systems in the DNA Databank

Background:  Vanderbilt University Medical Center is beginning to build an anonymous database of genetic and clinical information to help researchers discover the connections between genes and disease.   Instead of throwing away leftover blood, researchers can look at the genes in blood combined with anonymous medical information to learn why some groups of people get sick while others don’t.  (Anonymous means there is nothing that could be used to identify a person, like names and social security numbers, phone numbers, physicians’ names, visit dates, or anything else like that).  In fact, the program substantially exceeds federal requirements for securing privacy.  Genes might also play a role in people’s response to medications.  For example, if a doctor knew beforehand that his patient was more likely to have a bad reaction to a drug, he or she might be able to choose a different drug to treat that patient. 

Any VUMC patient over 18 years of age who has blood drawn is eligible for the program.  It is a way for almost every patient to participate in medical research and to contribute to healthcare, with no privacy or safety risk – or even any inconvenience.  However, Vanderbilt recognizes that some patients will not wish to have their discarded blood used for research, even anonymously. These patients have the option of not being included. The computer algorithms will also randomly exclude samples from the database, making it impossible to know whether any individual patient has been included.  But apart from the filters described above, all blood samples will be acceptedThis will result in a repository that could go by 50,000 samples per year, or even greater. 

 Overall Steps of the Proposed Process 

Process Step



Participating labs reserve CBC leftovers in 5ml vials


Set aside leftovers into designated area


DNA Resources Core personnel collect reserved vials


Vials scanned upon arrival in DNA Resources Core


If exclusion, process terminated, and blood sample discarded


Containers from discarded samples deposited into biohazard sharps container


If accepted, assigned new hash value


Relevant information downloaded into database


New labels produced with hash value


Processing vessels and storage tubes labeled


Blood transferred into labeled processing vessel


Labeled blood samples batched for processing


DNA extracted on Autopure as per usual DRC protocols


Concentrations determined


Labels re-scanned for inventory management prior to storage


DNA stored until distribution/genotyping


PI access web interface or specific sample profile


PI reviews available samples and initiates request for DNA


PI DNA request confirmed for IRB approval and appropriate use by _______


_____ approval issued/data use agreement signed


DNA samples retrieved from storage

 Potential for Bioengineering Advancements:  Given the expected scale, the need for automating key parts of the sample management pipeline is considerable.  There is considerable human personnel costs associated with the manual steps as described above.  If any of the above steps could be automated through the integrated use of robotics, information technology, devices, and software, then the costs savings associated with the automation would be substantial.  We are open to exploring whether the timeline would permit any of these types of project.  The student team would work closely with the DNA Capture team (the group overseeing the implementation of this project for the institution).   CompE, BME

11. Robert A. Malkin Professor of the Practice of Biomedical Engineering Duke University, Director, Engineering World Health, voice: (919)660-8266, King
... I attached the list (click here). The Defib, ESU and ECG tester are still listed. However, I would discourage students from doing these, as students' designs from last year are probably going to enter production pretty soon.  BME+EE
12.  Bruce Beyer, MD, Vanderbilt OB/GYN King
Needs a safe, fluid operated cervical dilator system developed.  Contact King or Beyer for additional details.  BME+ME+EE  Taken by BMEs John Moustoukas, Michael Nichols, Drew Lansdown and George Bikakis (EE)
13.  Paul King, 22201 King
1.  Complete and safety test project number 12 from last year for an emergency ventilator system that evolved into a percussive system.  See for the end point achieved.  BME+ME+EE
2. Build and test the Noninvasive radial artery BP system written up in IEEE EMBS magazine (July/August 2005, (Vol24 #4), pages 32-37.).  Test its' efficacy in determining pulsus paradoxis.  BME+ME+EE+CompE
14.  Michael Miga, 343-8336,  King

 Project 1:  A Novel Dermoscopic Elasotgraphic Probe

Project Description:  Skin cancers are a growing health concern in the United States with total annual cases being reported in the millions by the American Cancer Society.  Furthermore, structural alterations within cancerous skin-lesions cause unexpected patterns of anatomical deformation in response to mechanical forces.  The primary objective in this project is to create a novel dermoscopic imaging probe that acquires hi-resolution images before and after the application of a mechanical deformation which are subsequently used within an elasticity imaging analysis.  Once the new dermoscopic probe has been constructed, a series of phantom experiments will be conducted to assess its capabilities in determining realistic skin-based property measurements.  For these experiments, the skin-like phantom will be constructed.  If a dermoscopic probe could be designed to generate elastographic skin images there are many potential applications (e.g. melanoma lesion characterization, burn/scar characterization, skin disease monitoring, etc.)  For this project, a CCD Firewire camera already exists – however, a skin-friendly stretching apparatus needs to be realized, a detailed investigation of the skin loading effects needs to be done, and work in image processing for skin illumination will be needed.  BME + ME + CS/EE.

Project 2:  A Secure Web-based Tissue Modeling Platform

Project Description:  The use of computational modeling within preoperative planning, diagnostic screening, and surgical feedback is becoming an important analysis tool for improving healthcare.  The goal of this project is to generate a complete web-based platform for interacting with a biomechanical computer model of the brain.  With respect to resources, preoperative brain volumes exist, mesh generation software exists, and a model exists - the team will have to develop a secure web-interface, a series of interactive scripts to execute various programs, an email notification system, and a data repository (error handling will also need to be managed).  The project requires the interface to be done in LINUX.  Experience with LINUX operating systems, web technology, general coding, and potentially database programming is needed to undertake this project.  1 to 2 EE/CS students and possibly 1 ME/BME.

15.   Dr. Naji N Abumrad (   MD supervision TBA, King will co-supervise King
1.  Develop an instrumentation/clinical test system to help assess the viability of tissue in patients such as diabetics whose tissue may have minimal blood supply.  For example, consider the use of an infrared system that can capture a temperature/time history of a section of a patient's anatomy.    BME, ME, EE, CompE
2.  Develop a technology to measure wound size and depth versus time.  Data will need to be formatted for entry into patient records.   BME, EE, CompE
3.  Develop a better, less expensive method than the current KCI wound bag system to assist in wound healing.  The method may involve suction techniques or other methods to assist in the partial surface closure of wounds.   BME, ME  Taken by: Marybeth Jewell (BME), Melissa Kopacz (BME), Cary Berdy (ME) and me, Ian Sando (BME).
4.  Diabetics experience an average of one major infection relating to their disease in their lifetime.  The majority of these involve the combination of their neuropathy and a foot injury.  Specialist-designed foot protection systems are overly expensive (> $1000).  Develop a less expensive, useful, foot protection methodology.  (See TA Cobb for additional information.)   BME, ME  taken by BMEs Colin Smith, Patrick Gonzales, Michael Osborne
16.  Dr. Brad Maltz  brad.maltz@Vanderbilt.Edu King
I am still very much interested in developing the thumbpad controlled endoscope as we talked about several months ago  BME + ME + EE + CompE
17.  W Mark Richter, PhD, Director of Research and Development, MAX mobility, LLC, 3301 Cobble St. Suite B2, Nashville, TN 37211,  837-6947 ph King

1.  FitSki Ergonomic Adjustable Water Ski Seating System

Adaptive water-skiing has grown into a popular recreational activity through ski clinic programs across the country. While the sport has grown and evolved, the equipment has remained fundamentally unchanged. Standup water-skiers actively use their legs as shock absorbers when skiing over the boat wake, or through rough water. Adaptive water-skiers do not have this ability and as a result experience significant shock loading during skiing. Other problems with existing equipment include inadequacies of fit and movement in the seat during skiing, and the need for numerous seat sizes to accommodate a range of skier sizes due to a fixed seat size.

The proposed FitSki seating system will reduce the skier's exposure to shock during skiing, improve seat-fitting ergonomics, and allow adjustability to accommodate skiers of a wide range of sizes. The innovative design will potentially reduce the incidence of adaptive water-ski related injuries. Novice and competitive adaptive water-skiers will benefit from the improved fit and ride comfort provided by the FitSki.   ME + BME Taken by Cory Gerken      ME, Nick Pilkington  ME, Lauren Mitchell  CompE, Lorielle Alter      BME


2.  Transfer-Friendly Wheelchair

Active manual wheelchair users routinely transfer into and out of their wheelchairs for a number of activities, including getting into and out of their cars/trucks, using the toilet, taking a shower and sitting in a restaurant booth. Since the majority of these users do not have use of their lower extremities, they must perform transfers using only their arms. Transfers can place tremendous loading on the arms and is thought to be a significant contributor to the high incidence of upper extremity repetitive stress injuries in the manual wheelchair user population. Current technology to aid in transfers is a transfer board. A transfer board is a board that is bridged from the wheelchair seat to the transfer location. The user “scoots” him/her self across the board in small increments to minimize stress on the arms. One of the primary disadvantages of the current technology is that it is not very portable, so it is commonly left in a specific location around the house, or in the car, where transferring is most difficult. This leaves the user susceptible to injury for transfers outside that specific location. A wheelchair that is designed to aid the user in transferring would ensure that regardless of where the user is, transfers are accomplished with minimal upper extremity stress. The proposed project would design, fabricate and evaluate a new wheelchair design that makes transfers more ergonomic for the user.  ME + BME

3.  Propulsiometer Instrumented Wheelchair Wheel

There is a high incidence of upper extremity repetitive stress injuries among manual wheelchair users. Propulsion biomechanical studies have been used to assess what attributes of propulsion might be contributing to the development of injuries and what strategies wheelchair users can adopt to reduce the likelihood of developing injuries. In order to assess the loads on the upper extremity during propulsion, the forces and moments applied on the wheel by the hand must be measured. In gait biomechanics studies, a load cell is used for this purpose. For wheelchair propulsion, the propulsive forces are applied to the handrim, a tubular hoop mounted just to the side of the wheel. There have been several solutions developed by biomechanics labs to measure these loads but all the solutions have been very expensive and thereby limiting adoption by doctors and wheelchair prescribers. Armed with an inexpensive tool for measuring handrim kinetics, clinicians would be able to assess their client’s propulsion technique, as well as the appropriateness of their wheelchair setup. The user could try out different wheelchairs, wheels, seating configurations and pushing styles until the most ergonomic combination is found. In addition, users could “check-out” the wheels for extended training periods. This project will continue the electronics and instrumentation development of an innovative propulsiometer design that promises to provide this technology at an affordable cost.   BME + ME + EE + CompE


18.  Dr Doug Milam, Urology,   doug.milam@Vanderbilt.Edu King

Computer model of bladder filling and emptying:  We have lots of actual measurement data from patients, normal and pathologic. Those data would be used to construct the initial model.  This would involve modeling bladder volume, pressure, wall tension, etc  in storage, and modeling volume, pressure, flow, turbulence, and quantifying obstruction in bladder emptying.  We would then test the model against data from patients who have a variety of disease states  BME + CompE + ME

19.  Dr. Anita Mahadevan-Jansen   Anita.Mahadevan-Jansen@Vanderbilt.Edu King
a) Design of an endoscopic fiber optic Raman probe: It has been shown the Raman spectroscopy can be used to differentiate between normal and cancer tissues in the bladder as well as the ovary. The projects call for a fiber optic probe to be designed and constructed such that it can be introduced into the body via the guide channel of a laparoscope/cystoscope to measure Raman spectra in vivo.   A periscopic tip will be required to access the tissue at all angles.  BME + ME  taken by Derek Ulvila, Alanna Patsiokas, Christopher Garay, all BME
b. Complete the Parkinson's project from last year - see   BME + ME
20.  Dr Bob Galloway King
Project -  Kidney Tracking and Stabilization:  Surgery for kidney cancer used to be very straightforward – the kidney was removed.  Recent oncological assessments have shown that if a tumor can be resected leaving a clean margin, the reoccurrence of the cancer is very low.  Operating on a kidney presents several challenges.  It is wrapped in fat, the kidney is loosely held in a cradle of connective tissue and neither the tumor nor the vasculature are visible from the surface of the kidney.  In order to improve surgery of the kidney a stabilization and tracking system must be developed.  This will allow the kidney to held in a known position and tracked if it needs to be moved.  Taken by Brian Breviu, Susan Lunde, Benjamin Scruggs
21.  Dr John Enderle, University of Connecticut, (860) 486-5521 King
National Student Design Competition sponsored by the Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center.  Document here.  Rules here.  $ for up to three projects, prizes...    BME + ME + EE +CompE, dependent on project
22.  Dr James Berry, Anesthesiology & Dr Paul King King

“Design a electroanesthesia device to be used in third-world countries. The design would require the development of a device with a vital signs monitor, a control panel programmed to administer the anesthesia according to signals from the patient and interactive input. The design of the method for administration of the anesthesia is necessary but the actual administration of the electrical anesthesia will be theoretical at first until a scientifically proven method is discovered. As a result of the development of the device, the secondary goal is to develop a proposed and testable method for administration of the electroanesthesia. Taken by BMEs Matthew Jackson, Caroline Schulman, Ryan Demeter and Matthew Whitfield BME need  CompE

23.  College Industry Council on Material Handling Education, local advisor needed King
2005-2006 Material Handling Student Design Competition See for information  ME + CompE?
24.  Matt Moore & Dr Ed Glaser, SoleSupports, Inc.   King

 1.  System Engineering Challenge: Use systems engineering principles to improve on various plant functions: cycle time, plant layout, quality control, space usage. Will require several trips to plant approximately 45 minutes from Vanderbilt’s campus   ME + BME

 2.  3D Imaging Software   Currently, a clinic will send in a foam cast of a patient’s foot, an orthotic is made from the cast and it is returned to the clinic.  This entire process can take up to 2 weeks to complete in the US and can be considerably more for other countries.  One way to reduce this is to cut down time on incoming packages.  A solution that is currently being used by some companies is to have the clinic take a 3D laser scan of the foot and send it in via the web where the company can reconstruct the 3D image of the foot.  This is a very costly solution and one that is not feasible for all clinics.  However, all clinics could use a low-cost digital camera
Using LabView, design a VI that will construct a 3D mesh using grayscale intensities from a 2D digital image of a foam cast.  Package the VI into a stand-alone application.  Extra: Create a standard case to house the digital camera and foam cast in order to achieve correct lighting and distances.  BME + CompE + ME  Taken by BMEs Mackenzie Thomas, Aubrey McKelvey, Brad Boldizar

 3.  Multi-Channel Analysis Tool: One of the main goals in manufacturing an orthotic is obtaining the correct flexibility.  It is also one the hardest things to achieve as each patient requires a specific flexibility based on a number of factors.  A device has been created to measure the flexibility of an orthotic in one area of the arch.  An improvement on this would be to measure multiple areas of the arch as it is being flexed.  Using LabView, design a VI that will capture pertinent data from a multi-channel device used for measuring the flexibility of an orthotic.  ME + BME + CompE

25.  Local advisor - any of your design instructors   King
Fourth Annual Emhart Design Contest, "Create the Future"  Project may be based upon your design project...
26.  Dr Franz Baudenbacher,  King

1.  Integration of a miniature Clark oxygen sensor into on chip cell culture volumes:  Oxygen consumption and extracellular pH would be indicative of the biological activity during cell culture experiments. Within the past two years the Baudenbacher laboratory established cell cultures in nanoliter volumes, miniaturized extracellular pH electrodes and incorporated differential pH electrode configurations to provide on chip sensing. The proposed project is to miniaturize a Clark-type oxygen electrode using soft lithography, a polydimethysiloxane membrane and thin film platinum electrodes to integrate an oxygen sensor into on chip cell culture volumes. Relevant literature: Fabrication of miniature Clark oxygen sensor integrated with Microstructure, Ching-Chou Wu, Tomoyuki Yasukawa, Hitoshi Shiku, Tomokazu Matsue, Sensors and Actuators B 110 (2005) 342–349 and Thin-film IrOx pH microelectrode for microfluidic-based microsystems, Igor A. Ges, Borislav L. Ivanov, David K. Schaffer, Eduardo A. Lima, Andreas A. Werdich, Franz J. Baudenbacher, Biosensors and Bioelectronics 21 (2005) 248–256  Prerequisite: BME 271 and at least two members of the design team took or are taking BME 274 – BioMEMS BME+ME+EE

27.  Dr. Mike Holzman  x35613 (via Dr Roselli)   King
Obesity is rising at an alarming rate in the US. A recent procedure to assist obese patients with weight loss is to restrict food entry to the stomach by placing a fluid filled balloon around the outside of the proximal end of the stomach. By adding fluid to the balloon, it becomes more difficult for food to enter, and patients eat less. However, physicians currently control the fluid volume manually. An automated system would be highly beneficial to these patients, allowing for fewer office visits and finer control.   BME + ME + CompE   taken by Luke Oakley - BME, Steve Price - BME, Omar Abdul-Ali - CompE, Zachery Wingard

Endoluminal Closure Device:

In recent years, there has been a growing enthusiasum for what is being referred to as "natural orifice tranluminal endoscopic surgery (NOTES)."

This technique involves taking the currently utilized flexible endoscopes and performing common diseases which have been traditionally done via transabdominal operations (laparotomy or laparoscopy). The potential benefit of NOTES is the ability to perform a completely incisionless operation. There are currently indidivduals performing solid organ (appendix, gallbladder & spleen) surgery via a "transgastric approach." This entails making a gastrotomy (hole made in the stomach) to gain access to the peritoneal cavity.  Taken by BMEs Ali Hales, Laura Mattaliano,John Sticklen, Braham Dhillon

28.  Dr Frank Carroll   FEL center   King

1.  Design and development of a coherent glass X-ray detector – converting X-rays to light or charge is an efficient multistep process that may be improved using coherent fiberoptic plates. This project will explore such a customized approach to detecting and amplifying monochromatic X-rays in diagnostic applications.

 2.  X-ray focusing with bent crystals – mosaic crystals and true crystalline structures could be used to focus X-ray intensity for certain monochromatic X-ray applications such as a new type of radiotherapy. This project will explore these capabilities for optimizations of such a focusing device.

 3.Near-field X-ray phase contrast using bowed silicon crystals – Schemes to use Laue crystals for the performance of a new type of imaging called phase contrast imaging require extremely precise alignment around the rocking curve to extract the information in the transmitted beam. Experiments with a spherical/conical wavefront of monochromatic X-rays will be tested using carefully formed crystals to perform PCI near the X-ray source.

 4.  Picosecond beam diagnostics – Tunable, monochromatic X-rays emanating in picosecond pulses need to be diagnosed as to energy, time and flux on these incredibly short timescales. Designing diagnostics for these beams will be the focus of this work.  Taken by Ahmad Shahir Ismail (EE), Hafizul Raduan (CompE), Seri Mastura Mustaza (BME), Siti Nor Wahida Fauzi (BME)

 5.  Using fluorescence X-rays for non-invasive biopsy – Collimating a tunable, monochromatic X-ray beam and passing it through tissues while detecting the fluorescence X-rays produced will be attempted in thick tissues to try to differentiate malignant from benign diseases with the hopes of doing away with invasive biopsies.

6.  Scanning bed design - Complete and prototype a special purpose scanning bed for tomographic studies of the female chest wall.

BME + ME + EE + CompE + ...
29.  Joel Barnett, ME design instructor, will post several items below ASAP: Barnett
1.  Lexmark Corporation - major manufacturer of office copiers - design topics will include product and/or manufacturing process improvements of copiers or related products  ME
30.  TBA advisor for Dan Thomas shoe project, possible Jared Cobb    King
Currently, there exists no athletic shoes on the market that correctly accommodate the physical needs of all the people that wear it. People range in size dramatically; they range in shoe-preferences/ideals, gait and most importantly weight! It is therefore intuitive that today's footwear technology should account for these differences; yet every mass-produced shoe still reacts differently to a people of different weights.  Some shoe companies suggest that they provide a range of models, fitting the entire demographic; yet finding the right shoe is still hit or miss. Even if several different shoes were said to "fit" properly, they are still each mechanically different and as a result each react to your stride differently. Ultimately, this means that some models will aggravate injury more than the others - and more importantly it is possible that none of these optimally fit your physical needs. Since people are different, it is fitting that they should wear a shoe as unique as them and unique to their needs.  It is the goal of this project to design a running shoe with adjustable dampening (shock absorbance) and flexibility in effort to accommodate different weighted people and ultimately reduce injury. Visit, and click on the "Senior Design"  link to learn more about this endeavor.    Taken by Dan Thomas, Brooke Whittaker, Robin Giannattasio, Scott Jennings (ME)
31. MRS Entrepreneurship Challenge - local advisor (Materials. Science) needed.    King
The Materials Research Society is pleased to announce the Entrepreneurship Challenge – a competition designed to help our members develop the entrepreneurial skills that get ideas out of the lab and directly into the marketplace.

Through the Entrepreneurship Challenge, scientists and business students will form “virtual teams” to develop a 12-slide PowerPoint presentation that will present a startup technology to a panel of venture capitalist judges.  The grand prize is $3,000 – and the top three teams will additionally receive meeting registration plus travel funding of up to $3,000 each to present their entries at the 2006 MRS Spring Meeting.   See for more information.

Wil Clouse (Peabody) may advise re entrepreneurship.   BME &/or ME,   MT or HD background...

32.  ME 242 PROJECTS to be co-advised by Dr. Joel Barnett Barnett   posted 9/23/2005

1.  Lexmark, Inc., Lexington, KY - Manufacturers of laser printers. - Project may include improvements to printer manufacturing process or detail improvements to laser printers.  (Same as 29, above)
2. Proctor & Gamble, Inc., Jackson, TN - Snack food production and packaging. - Project will involve computer modeling and product testing of food containers.  Stress and deformation should be modeled and physically tested.
3.  Denso, Inc., Maryville, TN – Manufacturer of automobile components - Project will involve quality-assurance-related testing of automobile electro-mechanical components (alternators and starters).  Testing should lead to proposed product and/or process improvements.
4.  General Mills, Atlanta, GA. – Manufacturer of food products - Project will involve flow-sensing, monitoring, and control of food ingredients in the manufacturing process of food product.  Objective will be to design sensors and related components to prevent malfunctions in the delivery of solid (powder) components to the food preparation process.
5.  TVA-VU Diamond Lab, Nashville, TN – Diamond engineering research -  Project will involve design, production, and testing of a thermal simulation system which emulates the behavior of electrical transformers using nano-diamond-enhanced insulation oil.  This is to support and verify computer modeling of thermal behavior of the transformer system.
6.  Los Alamos National LaboratoriesVU Welding Automation Lab, Nashville, TN - Project will involve computer simulation of the friction stir welding (FSW) process.  Also, testing and verification of simulations using actual FSW will be performed.
7.  Trane Corp., Clarksville, TN – Manufacturer of industrial HVAC systems - Project includes mathematical modeling of fluid flow in industrial-scale HVAC system.  Project may include physical scale modeling and empirical verification of modeling results.
8.  Sonoco, Inc., Nashville, TN – Producer of food and consumer goods packaging - Project involves identification of new and innovative uses for proprietary paper-based packaging material.  Project must include marketing and economic analysis of proposed product(s).
9.  NASA/JSFC – VU Intelligent Robotics Lab, Nashville, TN - Project involves design and construction of mechanical systems in support of VU Intelligent Robotics Lab autonomous robot project.
10.  Futaba – Formula SAE (EE)
the above projects are primarily ME or EE/CompE in nature

33.  EE/CompE Design Projects, Dr Andrew Dozier - Faculty Mentor, see Oak for updated information.
1. AMCOM Content Management System, Sponsor:  Jay Lilley, Chief, Propulsion Technology Function

Organization:  AMRDEC, USA AMCOM

This is a continuation of a project from 2004/2005.  The project installation failed due to security requirements at the installation site which were not anticipated by the design team.  Further, there was no handoff between the project team and the customer staff.  Essentially, last year's effort produced a working prototype. 

This year, the project will implement a Commercial-Off-The-Shelf (COTS) digital archive with the features of last year's project, tailor the COTS product for the installation, and design a control system for the video capture products that were selected and demonstrated over the summer.  Special attention must be paid to the security and other requirements of the COTS software.  Products must be selected that can meet these requirements BEFORE proceeding to tailoring and installation.

For more information, see the AMCOM Content Management web site in the 2004/2005 folder.

2. AMCOM MK66 Guidance System, Sponsor:  Jay Lilley, Chief, Propulsion Technology Function

Organization:  AMRDEC, USA AMCOM

This project is a continuation of last year's project.  The objective of this project is to create a working prototype, both mechanical and electrical.  The mechanical design effort must fabricate a working prototype and subject it to wind tunnel testing to verify all simulation results.  This is non-trivial, since the rocket accelerates to Mach 3.5 in 1.5 seconds.  Complete characterization of the servo motors will be required, specifically the torque vs. time curve.  This must evolve into a current/voltage spec for the drive circuits.

The electrical design team must create a working prototype that fits the form factor (size,weight, and power) determined last year.  The developed circuits must provide drive currents as specified by the mechanical design team, build GPS and IMU emulators to stimulate the controller, develop all code for the algorithms developed last year, and fabricate, assemble and test the guidance module.  Taken by Ryan Davis, Robert Ryan, Adrian Lauf

3.  AMCOM Low Cost IMU, Sponsor:  Mr. Bill Wilson, SED Fire Support Lead

Organization:  Software Engineering Directorate, AMRDEC, USA AMCOM

Last year, the AMCOM MLRS project developed a conceptual design for an intelligent fuze replacement for the MLRS M26 Rocket.  The Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) selected cost $5,000, which was deemed to be cost prohibitive by the customer.

This project will evaluate the utility of commercial rate gyros and accelerometers for use in missile guidance systems.  Devices similar to the Analog Devices ADXRS300 will be selected and characterized to determine the suitability for this fuze application.  A data sheet for the ADXR300 is provided in this project folder.

The desired characteristics of the Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) include:  small size, low power, broad temperature range, good shock resistance, and low cost.  The design should include all power supplies, peripherals, processors, and software necessary for missile guidance. 


Once the unit is designed and suitable components are selected, a breadboard IMU will be produced and characterized.  This will involve printed circuit board layout, fabrication, assembly, and test.


The IMU must be capable of independently finding a North heading.  The project will characterize gyro drift and determine if this drift is stable enough to be compensated for in the application software.

4. MicroMouse Competition, Sponsor:  IEEE Central TN Section

This project will design, fabricate, assemble, and test a robot that can navigate a maze specified by the MicroMouse contest in the shortest time possible.  Development effort includes mechanical design, electrical design, algorithm development, and fabrication, assembly, and test of the operational robot.  The team will travel to Dallas TX, to compete in the contest in mid-March 2006. Taken by Robert Parenton, Peter Humke, Jason Hasday, Duncan Werner, Ryan Thiboeaux, Tim Chan

5. Remotec Power Management System, Sponsor:  Bill Whitely, Remotec Engineer

Battery banks are very important to most of our products at Remotec, a subsidiary of Northrop Grumman. We develop teleoperated and autonomous robots for bomb disposal and various military projects.  Batteries run critical electronics packages on a robot, or the entire robot in some cases. Accurate information about the state of the battery is invaluable to a human operator, or an Autonomous Behavior Processor.

The purpose of this project will be to design an intelligent Lead Acid battery bank monitor for potential use in Northrop Grumman products.  The monitor will keep track of key battery parameters such as voltage, current, Amp-hours expended, percent charge remaining, etc. The monitor will have a physical interface (buttons, LCD, etc.), and must be capable of communicating the battery state to other electronic devices.

This will be an electrical design project. You will be given a specification and budget. At a bare minimum a working prototype printed circuit board assembly must be constructed, using concentional PCB assembly techniques. A motivated team with a good design should be able to go as far as converting the prototype to a surface mount PCB design and packaging it and the relevant display/input devices in an enclosure. Taken by Ryan Walsh, Scott Mihlon, Jason Kientz, Sean Begly

6. SAE Telemetry Project, Sponsor:  Joe Dorris, President, Futaba North America and Phil Davis, VUSE

Organization:  SAE and the Department of Mechanical Engineering

This project will determine the paramaters of interest to be monitored on the SAE Formula 1 cars.  Specifically, throttle position, braking, clutch status, G-forces on the vehicle, tire temperature, wheel speed, steering angle, current gear used, shock position, and a variety of engine parameters to be determined in the requirements definition phase of the project.

The project is anticipated to be divided into two phases.  The first phase will instrument the engine in a static dynamometer test stand.  After verification of the static results, these will be migrated to the car.  The second phase will incorporate vehicle parameter measurements, and determine how to store/forward the information to the design team.  Taken by Wardah Ismail, Nurul Ali, George Sibble

7. SoapBox Branding Project, Sponsor:  Jim Reynolds, Director of Technology

Sponsoring Organization:  SoapBox Branding, Nashville, TN

Sponsor Web Site: 

We and would like to utilize barcode capability in the vending booth for our merchandise.  For a more detailed description, see the document enclosed in this folder.  What is required is the design of a system for the Vendors selling merchandise at the shows that will do the following:


1.         Keep track of the in's, out's, comps, and sales for each product.

2.         Allow the input of the individual show information before or after the show.

3.         Be able to take barcode input on merchandise items sold, and to manually edit the numbers (sales) after the show to correct differences with the physical inventory.

4.         Store the data for each show until it can connect to the Internet

5.         Once connected to the Internet, directly insert the information into our SQL compliant database.


The project should also survey existing barcode scanners, how they might interface to a palmtop device, and how the palmtop device might transfer the information back to the centralized database server, via the wireless web, or a variety of other means.  Laptops are too expensive, and not rugged enough to be used for this application.  An example of the type of device envisioned is the palmOne Treo 650.  taken by Ted Skuchas, Michelle Stuy, Charlandra Smith, Antoine Bishop

8. Toshiba HDTV Sync Analyzer
This project will utilize a microcontroller or other device to detect HDTV analog sync signals, and determine the following parameters of the sync pulse:  pulse width, frequency, and other critical parameters.  These parameters will then be displayed on an LCD or similar device for the user.  Additionally, the device must check these parameters against EIA specifications 770.1, 770.2, and 770.3 for any violations of the standards.  Also, the output format of the sync signals must be auto-detected for the following formats: 480i, 480p, 720p, and 1080i  Taken by Noor Amhmad, Dan Schreiber, Mus'ab Shararom
9. Toshiba MPEG and SCTE Table Generator and Tester
This project would entail studying the MPEG and SCTE specifications to write specific Windows application software to generate difficult HDTV test cases.  Also, information from previous field testing data would be utilized to provide additional test cases.  The goal of this effort would be to provide torture test cases and more test material for our current Table Parsing code.
10. University Club Point of Sale System
The University Club of Nashville, located on the Vanderbilt campus, has a need to modify the current method utilized to handle food and bar tickets.  The current approach is described below:

1.  Tickets are manually generated by the servers, and provided to the members for signature.  Upon approval, the ticket is "rung up" on the U-Club cash register. 
2.  Prior to ringing up the ticket, the menu items are loaded into the cash register manually.  This data changes frequently, depending on menu item and price changes.  Maintenance of this database is problematic, since it is uploaded manually.
3.  The cash register prints the appropriate information on the ticket, which is then sent to the accounting office.
4.  The accounting office manually transcribes the data in the ticket into their database management system.  This system has no capability to scan in the tickets and automatically pick off the information, including:  ticket number, date, amount purchased, tax, gratuity, etc.
5.  At the end of the month, the database management system prints individual invoices for each member.  The invoice is then sent out with the manually removed copies of the tickets.  The ticket copies allow members to verify their signature on the ticket, and the amount charged.

This system has numerous opportunities for manually introduced errors.  The project would entail automating and streamlining this process.  Many problems have, and do occur on a regular basis, causing extra work for the staff, and frustration of the members.

Any student interested in how a business handles accounting and invoicing information, or anticipates owning their own business should enjoy this project.  Tasks required are: evaluation of updated cash registers, data capture devices (such as bar code readers), scanners, and database applications for use in streamlining this process.  Taken By CompEs Tearra Vaughn, Drew Ramm, and Brian Jarvis, Dincer Unluer

11. VUMC Mouse Pulse Oximeter

Faculty Mentor:  Andy Dozier


Sponsor/Organization:  Tim Blackwell, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine, VUMC


Sponsor/Organization:  Bob Allen, President, Ceramic Sensors, LLC

In humans, pulse oximetry is a valuable diagnostic tool for non-invasive determination of oxygen saturation of hemoglobin in arterial blood.  However, there is currently no device specifically designed to acquire arterial oxygen saturation in mice, and there are size and technical constraints that prevent the adoption of existing technology.  Our hypothesis is that obtaining accurate, non-invasive measurements of arterial oxygen saturation and heart rate in mice will be useful for monitoring cardiopulmonary dysfunction in a wide variety of disease models and for monitoring depth of anesthesia during mouse surgery.

The goal of this proposal is to develop and test a prototype device to allow optimization of a pulse oximeter sensor for a mouse, and to provide a clear path for development of this technology.  To achieve this goal, we have three specific aims: 


1) To design and produce a prototype optical sensing cuff for performing non-invasive measurements of arterial oxygen saturation on a mouse tail.


2) To validate sensor performance, and calibrate the instrument for reliable measurement of arterial oxygen saturation using established measurement tools and methods.


3) To design and produce a miniature device containing validated optical sensing circuitry, an inductive power link, and a radiofrequency wireless data transmission link. 


Ultimately, we plan to develop a reusable wireless device that can monitor arterial oxygen saturation and heart rate non-invasively in unanesthetized, unrestrained mice.

Taken by Brett Donegan, Adam Barth, Sami Hawalsi, Christy Johnson.

12. VUMC Clinical Outcome Analysis System
Faculty Mentor:  TBD

Sponsor:  Doris Quinn, Assistant Professor, and Eric Lin, Project Manger, Education Technology

Organization:  Center for Clinical Improvement, Division of Medical Education

The Aim of this project is to create an electronic application for the Healthcare Matrix, a diagnostic and performance-based tool that reflects the IOM Aims for Improvement and ACGME Core Competencies. This project will specify the hardware and software needed to create a prototype of the model, and will study the growth of the prototype to a larger system that can be used for internal and external use.  Maximum use of existing facilities, equipment and software is required.  At the present time, an Oracle server is available for system development, with appropriate support and site licensing. It is anticipated that the database will be populated and queried via a web browser application utilizing PHP.   Additional information regarding the project can be found in Oak.


This project will be divided into four phases:


1.     The design and creation of a prototype of the electronic Matrix.

2.     Pilot testing the Matrix for 40-50 residents. 

3.     Spreading to all residents and fellows at VUMC and outside partners

4.     Pilot testing for Faculty board recertification


Taken by Ibrahim Ismail, Zati Mazlan, Nurula Hukon, Norhidayah Yatim

34.  Dr Voor, University of Louisville
"Minimally invasive delivery system for bone graft and/or cement materials."Project Brief: Investigate/develop a delivery system for bone graft or cement materials using a single pin/tube device. There is some precedent for cement materials to be used in the proximal tibia, distal radius, and vertebral body for otherwise non-instrumented fracture stabilization. It would be a good fluid/solid mechanics problem because you would want to have high viscosity fluid traveling through a device that is clinically best when it is as small in diameter as possible.Taken by: BMEs Lauren Burdock, Jon Witten, Frank Zhao
35.  Stephen Grimes, Dept. of Clinical Engineering
The two possible projects that we could begin to work on immediately if they can structured to meet the needs of your students include.

1.      Identify the Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS) that will meet VUMC needs (clinical engineering’s, materials management, risk management)

  • Asset management …
  • Service management … service tracking
  • Regulatory … facilitate reporting
  • Quality … facilitate analysis
  • Problem tracking (reported hazards/recalls)

The staff has begun compiling desired features, we have a recent RFP (attached) from UCMCD as an example & AAMI guidelines for selecting/purchasing CMMS.


2.      Medical Equipment Management Program (MEMP)

  • Risk categories … effective management & JCAHO requirement
  • focus on inspections of high-priority/life support
  • workload assessment

36.  Charles Lankford, CEO PharmaSys, Inc. Cary, North Carolina 27513, Office: 919 468 2547 Fax: 919 468 0147, email:

1.  Design a portable EtO sterilizer

Design a 6 cf EtO Sterilizer and develop design verification and validation documentation to include master device records

Unit must be:

  • Portable
  • Inexpensive to manufacture and operate (less than 10 g EtO per cycle)
  • Installation requires only 110VAC outlet and a dedicated exhaust line to the outside
  • Sterilize at room temperature without external vacuum lines, steam generator or water
  • Be able to aerate products for a variable time at the end of the cycle
  • Must meet State and U.S.E.P.A. emission requirements without the need for additional abatement equipment.

 2.  Design processes and a facility to manufacture tablets

Design a facility and processes to manufacture and bulk package 1.6 million tablets per day/5 days per week. Products will include:

  • 50 mg non-coated acetylsalicylic acid (generic aspirin) tablets
  • 325 mg coated acetaminophen tablets
  • 50 mg coated placebo tablets
  • 325 mg coated placebo tablets

Include all stability, incoming inspection and release laboratory equipment and processes.

3.  Design and cost estimates for a commercial tissue culture process system

Design a Commercial Tissue Culture Process System for growing artificial human skin.   The study should include the design of the processes, process equipment, packaging systems, storage equipment and shipping systems. It should be constructed using readily available commercial equipment and systems.

Design a commercial microbiology lab and process flow for incubation and testing the sterility of biological indicators 

5. Design a low cost personal asthma monitor/inhaler combo with the ability to store and transmit historical data via wireless technology

 6.  Research and design implantable wireless glucose meter to continuously monitor blood glucose levels in humans (low cost, small size and safety is of primary concern)

 7.  Develop a control and monitoring system for steam sterilization. Data collection and plotting of temperature/pressure of penetration sensors is required.

 8.  Design a microbrewery

37.  Dr. Calum Avison, Vanderbilt University Institute of Imaging Science
Description: We will be building a primate chair that is capable of holding Rhesus macaques while they are being scanned in an MRI and performing functional tasks. The macaques have been trained to sit in a sphynx position for a sustained period of time, and the chair would be modeled with this in mind. The chair would also contain a reward system that allows the monkey a certain amount of juice as a reward for correct task performance/response during the scan. The creation of a primate chair would involve the collaboration of biomedical engineers and mechanical engineers.

If you are interested in joining this project, or have any questions, please email Jen at

43 advisors, 89+  projects, as of 10/27/2005