BME/ME/EE/CompE/ChE/Biomolecular  Projects Proposed 2009

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, Webster or Black  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 (2009 will be posted) please see for details.  Consider entering this contest this coming Spring.  Also note that there is a National Scholar Award for Workplace Innovation and Design which any major can enter.  See for details.  See also for an NCIIA/BMES/Industry sponsored design competition.  See also for a student materials design competition.  See also  to enter the seventh annual Emhart "Create the Future" Design Contest, featuring a top prize of $20,000 or a 2009 hybrid car.  See also at for another competition.  We are 2 for 2 in the RESNA Student Design Competition (see ) for projects under Dr. Richter.

1.  Andrew Cross, Biomedical Engineer, Simulation Technologies Program, VUSM, 3450 MRB IV 936-8801, andrew.e.cross@Vanderbilt.Edu   King

Project 1 Name:   Bluetooth Stethoscope  1 EE, 1 BME

Description:   A stethoscope that allows the user to hear different heart and lung sounds than those produced by a standardized patient or mannequin.   There are two main users of the stethoscope instructors and trainees.  Instructors are those people who control what sounds are heard from the stethoscope and trainees are those who listen to those sounds.    

Development Status:   A Bluetooth audio receiver is attached to a stethoscope.  Headphones that are connected to the receiver are located inside the earpieces of the stethoscope.  The bell of the stethoscope contains a button switch that when pressed closes the circuit to the headphones allowing sounds to be produced for the user to hear (when the user applies the stethoscope to the patient the headphones are activated).  A working prototype of the stethoscope has been created.

Software Component:   Software that controls the stethoscope needs to be compatible with a handheld touch screen device that is capable of pairing with the Bluetooth audio receiver. The instructor would upload files for upper and lower right and left breath sounds as well as heart sounds.  After the user has loaded the sound files the software would display play buttons for the sounds in 5 separate quadrants.  The quadrants need to be easily found without having to look at the touch screen device.  Depending on where the physician or medical professional in training places the stethoscope, the instructor would touch the corresponding position on the touch screen device activating the appropriate sound for the trainee.   The software has seen substantial design work in Java but is not yet complete. 

Shortcomings and Objectives

  1. Turn prototype stethoscope into final product (clean and robust design)
    • Wiring for the headphones and button switch
    • Stable mounting of push button switch to bell of stethoscope
    • Easily synched with handheld device
  1. Finalize the software component
    • Uploading sound files/ Sound file Storage
    • Java the best language?
    • Easily installed on handheld touch screen device
  1. Mix the controller uploaded sounds based on where the user places the stethoscope. 
    • Physicians hear a combination of sounds coming from the patient
    • Initial ideas suggest doing this with the handheld software

Project 2:  Manikin Seizure Pad  1ME & 1 BME

 Device Description:  A device is needed to cause a medical manikin, 5-6 feet tall and weighing 60 lbs, to move as if having a seizure.

Development Status:  A working prototype has been built and is in use. The device uses compressed air from a hospital headwall to drive a pneumatic billow that lies beneath the manikin. The flow is controlled by a solenoid valve, which is connected to 24V batteries. Lastly, the solenoid valve is controlled by a programmable circuit, which runs on a 9V battery and is operated remotely via RF. The current system is fragile, difficult to set up and use, and unsafe.

Objectives:  The aim is to create a device that performs the same function as the current system while running on power other than 24V DC, operating more quietly, efficiently, and safely, and fitting inside a gurney mattress

Suggestions:  The proposed solution would use a 4/2 NC solenoid valve (see schematic) that is operated by either a low wattage, low voltage DC source or 120V AC and controlled by a remote that sends a series of signals to the solenoid to create a seizure. The seizure pad would be integrated into a medical mattress that could be placed under the manikin. An additional challenge, but not a necessary feature, is a component in the seizure pad that would detect the discharge of a defibrillator (approx. 200 J of electricity) and cause the manikin to convulse once (drive the billow one time), simulating the response to cardioversion.

2.   Dr. Michael Andrew Barnett, VUMC Cardiology, michael.a.barnett@Vanderbilt.Edu   King

1.  Pulmonary Artery Embolism Extraction Catheter---  Pulmonary emobolisms can be life threatening and currently there are no catheter based technologies for complete extraction. 
Goal: The goal of this group will be to design a catheter to percutaneously remove pulmonary emobolisms.

2. Cardiovascular Model--  A suitable cardiovascular model to test new devices and techniques is currently not commercially available.
Goal:  To build on the work of last semesters cardiovascular model.  Funding:

3  Arterial and Venous Expander-  Large bore catheters are needed to introduce new devices for intracardiac therapies.
Goal:  To design a device(s) that will expand the diameter of the femoral artery or vein without causing significant damage.

4.  Steerable Catheter--- The direct manipulation of cardiac catheters is currently limited.   Goal:  To build a catheter that can be manipulated easily and will allow the catheter to be steered through complex motions.

5.  Intracardiac Tools--   The current supply of intracardiac tools is limited.   Goal: To design intracardiac scapels, forceps, snares etc.  taken by Nathan Luibrand, Nick Luibrand, Luke Richards, and Elise Adcock-Hinojosa

6.  Percutaneous Left Ventricular Assist Device (LVAD) Structure-  Current LVAD technology requires open chest surgery.  Goal:  To design the structure of a percutaneous LVAD.

7.  Percutaneous Left Ventricular Assist Device (LVAD) Pump-  Current LVAD technology requires open chest surgery.  Goal: To design a small percutaneously implanted pump.

8.  Atrioventricular Valve Replacement/Repair-  The current standard of care requires surgery.  Goal: To develope a percutaneous method of either mitral or tricuspid repair/replacement.

Teams may be mixed BME & ME as needed.

3. Mark Richter,   King   731-1860

MAX mobility – Vanderbilt University Collaboration Student Design Projects

General Information:

MAX mobility is a rehabilitation research and development company located in Nashville, Tennessee. The company was founded and is directed by Mark Richter. Mark has been active in the area of rehabilitation engineering since 1995. Mark earned his PhD in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford University, with an emphasis in rehabilitation engineering. MAX mobility is equipped with a wheelchair propulsion biomechanics laboratory, machine tools, CAD facilities, data acquisition equipment, and a variety of sensors. Students will have access to the MAX mobility resources.

Student projects are the direct result of the needs of persons with disabilities. MAX mobility has an extensive internal database of assistive technology users within 50 miles of the greater Nashville area. MAX mobility frequently conducts research studies, focus groups and mail-in surveys. These interactions with users of assitive technology allow MAX mobility to identify areas of need and to develop design specifications for new technology. Potential users of the technology are then integrated into the design process to ensure it achieves its greatest impact for the user population. Student projects are frequently the first step in the product development process. Promising projects are further refined through SBIR grant funding or partnering manufacturer support. Continued support promising projects can afford the opportunity for student design team members to continue their work professionally after graduation.

Contact Information: 
W Mark Richter, PhD, President
MAX mobility, LLC
5425 Mt View Pkwy
Antioch, TN 37013
(615) 731-1860 ph  (615) 731-1863 fax

1.  Smart Anti-Tip System (SATS)

Manual wheelchairs have two large rear wheels and two small front casters that swivel. The location of the center of mass of the occupant between the rear and front wheels can have a significant effect on the performance of the wheelchair. If the weight is too far forward there is increased rolling resistance, increased tendency to be "pulled" down into side slopes, increased severity impact with bumps or sidewalk cracks, and difficulty balancing in a wheelie position. The ideal solution is to have the weight as much over the rear wheels as possible. However, if the weight is too far to the rear, the wheelchair may tip over backwards. One solution is an anti-tip bar that prevents tipping but these devices tend to limit mobility in certain situations, such as sidewalk curb cuts and they do not allow the user to perform a wheelie for activities such as pushing across sand or braking down a steep hill. This project will develop a smart anti-tip system that will prevent tipping while still allowing full mobility in the community.

taken by Garrett Spiegel., Kyle Mobley,  & Andrew Lossing, ChE. 

2.  CG Controlled Mid-Wheel Drive Manual Wheelchair (BalanceChair)

A mid-wheel drive manual wheelchair offers several benefits over a traditional rear wheel drive design in that it has lower rolling resistance, impervious to small obstacles and unaffected by side slopes. However, it generally requires the use of two sets of casters to keep the user balanced and often times those casters will limit the users mobility in soft surfaces or transitions such as curb cuts. This project will develop a mid-wheel drive manual wheelchair that overcomes the problems with traditional designs by actively controlling the location of the center of mass of the user such that it is over the rear wheels, thereby minimizing the weight on the balancing casters. Casters may even be retracted, to allow the user to remain upright when pushing uphill and braking downhill, much like someone does when walking up or downhill. This would substantially improve mobility and result in a more natural method of ambulation.


3.  Grip Exertion Measurement System (GEMS)

There is a high incidence of upper extremity overuse injuries among the manual wheelchair user population. The most prominent injury sites are the shoulder and wrist. Wrist pathology is most often Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS). Development of CTS is likely related to the repetitive gripping of the wheelchair handrim during propulsion. Limitations in instrumentation have prevented the accurate measurement of grip forces during wheelchair propulsion. Current approximations of grip during propulsion are made using electromyographic measurements of the forearm muscles (which include the finger flexor muscles). Quantifying grip force or pressure distribution during propulsion will enable researchers to better understand how hard and in what patterns wheelchair users grip the handrim. This research could lead to identifying patterns of grip that prevent or prolong the development of injuries. Results from the GEMS will be validated using a human subject study.

4.  Cross slope compensation for wheelchairs

Sidewalks and roads are typically sloped to the side to facilitate drainage of water to the gutter. While this feature is important to prevent water pooling and erosion, it poses a challenge to manual wheelchair users. As a wheelchair moves along a cross slope, it is pulled in the direction of the slope. As a result, wheelchair users have to continually push harder on the downhill handrim to keep moving straight ahead. The proposed project will develop a novel cross slope compensation system that will allow a wheelchair user to maintain a straight heading while on a cross slope without having to exert more effort than that required for a non-sloped surface.

BME+ME+EE   Posted 9/17/2009

5.  Portable Transfer Board

Wheelchair users must transfer themselves into and out of their wheelchair using their arms, which places a high level of loading on the shoulders. The use of a simple transfer board spanning from the users seat to the transfer destination can dramatically reduce the loading on the shoulders by allowing the user to "scoot" across the gap. Most wheelchair users do not use transfer boards once they are outside their homes since they are not very portable. The goal of this project is to design and build a transfer board that users can easily take with them where ever they go.

ME & BME   Posted 9/28/2009


4.  Dr. Michael Christie, Orthopedic Surgery,, Dr. Devries, others,   and Dave Martinez

1.  Project Name:  Modular Retractor System for Orthopedic Procedures

Description: A modular soft tissue retraction system  for orthopedic joint replacement.  Currently  retractors utlilized during joint surgery are  single one piece designs with a specific blade configurations.  The development of a modular system potentially could reduce the number of retractors and acquisition cost in the operating room.

Development Status:    Surgeon designer has existing conceptual design sketches.  As part of  project development  students will be invited to visit the operating room to observe joint replacement surgery to gain knowledge and verify design requirements.

Objectives:  Develop mechanical fastening designs for securing blades to a “Base Handle”.  Develop stress analysis data for safety and effectiveness. Specify materials to be employed and characterize operating room requirements with respect to sterilization,  safe handling and use.  Plastic prototype parts to be provided , by consults, for design validation.

Consulting Surgeon: Michael Christie , M.D.

Consult for Engineering : Dave Martinez  

Laura Ansley Allen [ ] a ChE senior is interested in this project, please contact her if interested also.

2.  Project Name:  Targeting and Reduction Instrument for Ankle Fractures

Background: Fractures of the medial malleous are common in all age groups.  Reducing the bone to anatomical position is currently performed with the use of various reduction forceps, pins and clamps.  Cannullated bone screws are implanted..

Description:  The ankle instrument should enable the surgeon to position and maintain the bone in correct anatomical position.  The instrument will require a multi-directional targeting  guides  for accurate placement of screws.

Development Status:    Surgeon designer has existing conceptual design sketches.  As part of  project development  students will be invited to visit the operating room to observe ankle fracture surgery to gain knowledge and verify design requirements.

Objectives:  Develop working electronic model on Pro E  or equivalent CAD program.    Plastic prototype parts to be provided , by consults for design validation.

Consulting Surgeon: William Devries, M.D.

Consult for Engineering : Dave Martinez

3.  Project Name:  Knee alignment verification system utilizing visual recognization technology and imaging.

Background:  Computer navigation systems are commercially available for joint replacement procedures. These systems employ positional detection software coupled with patient CT / MRI imaging data or embedded  anatomical images.  These systems require the surgical attachment of sensing devices calibrated to software and images.  Aside from the capital acquisition cost these systems historically increase the time of operation and clinically have not been shown to substantially improve surgical results.

Description:    Utilizing established technology to develop a effective and  efficient application for determining lower limb alignment pre-operatively and intra-operatively during total knee replacement.

Development Status:   Feasibility research and source of application software has been determined.

Objectives:  Utilizing a established visual recognition software, visually recognized markers positioned strategically on known anatomical landmarks,   

  1. Establish  pre-operative limb alignment status.
  2. Intra-operatively confirm  distal femoral and proximal tibial cutting block placement is optimal.
  3.  Confirm provisional test prosthesis desired alignment is achieved.
  4. Develop application to import digital radiographic data into application.

Support: Students will be trained and exposed to software application by software vendor representatives.  Students will be invited to observe procedures utilizing existing systems in hospital.

Software Component: Will require a understanding of rudimentary C++ and Visual basic software languages. Basic visual recognition software from a recognized supplier to be provided.   Technical support to be provided locally from vendor.

Hardware Component: Vanderbilt to provide Computer hardware and consults to provide digital visual camera w/ interface and visual markers.

Consulting Surgeon:  TBD  Consult for Engineering : Dave Martinez

Teams may be mixed BME & ME as needed.

5.  Matt Moore –, Sole Supports, Inc., 7674 Highway 7, Lyles, TN 37098, 931.670.6111 x197  King

1.  Reusable Casting Apparatus: Sole Supports is a custom foot orthotics manufacturer located in Lyles, TN.  Our business model involves a practitioner taking a cast of a patient’s foot in a foam medium, mailing the foam to us for processing and then returning an unused foam box back to the practitioner for future business.  This model is quickly becoming prohibitive in that shipping costs are increasing at an alarming rate.  The goal of this project is to research and develop a reusable casting medium.

At first glance, this seems to be a simple problem to solve as there are several products in the market to scan the foot with ease.  Our casting technique, and therefore our orthotic, is unique in that the foot is placed in the foam in a way to capture the maximal amount of arch height as possible for that foot.  This translates into an orthotic that is full-contact, calibrated and truly custom.  Our gait-referenced casting technique should be considered a constraint of the project.

Once a system is developed that can capture the cast with accuracy, it will then be scanned with a 3D digitizer and sent to our lab via the internet.  The casting apparatus will then need to be able to regain its pre-cast shape in preparation for a new patient.  This model will eliminate the need to ship foam to the practitioner as well as them sending it back to us; reducing our annual shipping costs by over $500,000.


Leg length discrepancies (LLD’s) are considered by many clinical practitioners to be the root of many ankle, knee, hip and spinal problems.
Most authorities claim that deficiencies of greater than inch (6mm) are clinically significant (1;2), although some sources state that differences as little as 4 mm are significant (3). Subotnick (4) states that because of the threefold increase in ground reactive forces with running, lifts should be used with inequalities greater than 1/8 inch (3mm).
There are many methods employed to measure the leg length inequalities, and much debate exists over the accuracy and reliability of these measures. Generally, the most accurate methods are thought to be x-ray and CT scan, however these methods expose the patient to ionizing radiation and come with a certain degree of clinical impracticality. There are a variety of additional methods involving supine observation (patient lying on table), and weight bearing standing evaluation. Gait analysis during running or walking activities can also be used to infer information about the clinical sequelae of the LLD. Weight bearing analysis has the advantage of providing feedback in the functional position that the patient would experience any pathology related to the LLD.

To create a measurement device enabling a weight bearing, double leg stance measurement of clinical leg length discrepancies.

As part of the measuring device, a process for correcting the LLD by raising or lowering limbs unilaterally.
As part of the measuring device, an objective measure of the LLD. This could involve the instrumented correlation of anatomical landmarks such as the medial malleoli (ankles), tibial plateaus (knees), greater trochanters (hips), anterior and posterior superior iliac spines and iliac crests (pelvis), and scoliosis (spine) (5,6).
As part of the measuring device, a method for calculating the weight bearing differential between the right and left foot.
The possibility for the future incorporation of a method for capturing a corrected position of the foot (yet to be determined) on the surface of the platform.
The concept is elucidated as follows. Two individual weight scales with the ability to raise or lower independently while he patient is standing on them. A framework incorporating a laser level with the ability to raise or lower to illustrate the congruity of bilateral anatomical landmarks.

Reference List

(1) Cyriax J. Testbook of Orthopedic Medicine. 5th Ed ed. London: Baillare, Tyndall and Cassell, 1969.
(2) Taillard W. Lumbar Spine and Leg Length Inequality. Acta Orthop Belg 1969; 35:601.
(3) Martens M, Backaert M. Chronic leg pain in athletes due to a recurrent compartment syndrome. Am J Sports Med 1984; 12:148-151.
(4) Subotnick S. Case History of unilateral short leg with athletic overuse injury. J Am Podiatry Assoc 1980; 5:255-256.
(5) Michaud TC. Foot Orthoses and Other Forms of Conservative Foot Care. Baltimore: Williams & Wilkins, 1993.
(6) Hertling D, Kessler R. Management of Common Musculoskeletal Disorders. 2nd ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott Company, 1990.            All majors

6.  Christopher D. Lee, M.D. , Assistant Professor, Department of Neurology, VUMC, 6-8444,  King  

.  I am wondering if you had any students interested in a project in which I would like to use the infrared camera on the Wii as an optical sensor for the position of an ultrasound probe, to recreate 3-D images of muscle, similar to an MRI scan.  There is already software that integrates the ultrasound video with a position sensor available (Cambridge Univ), I am trying to come up with an inexpensive optical sensor  using the Wii.

See: for Wii information - , see
  1. 3d Freehand Ultrasound for In Vivo Determination of Human Skeletal ... 

  2. for information on the experimental setup desired...

 Likely EE & BME & CompE

7.  Dr. Rajnish Gupta, VUMC Anesthesiology  King 
I want to develop an interactive multimedia website (wiki fashion) for our ultrasound regional anesthesia pictures and videos.  There are several issues and concerns with it that are beyond my webdesign skills.  The design elements would include creating the web interface, creating a system of authentication and maintaining HIPAA privacy for the images/videos included and for the contributing physicians from all over the country/world, and creating a database to keep all this information.  Anyone with database skills

8.  James G. Easter, Jr., FAAMA, Principal, Director Healthcare Planning and Programming (HFR/HPD), , 7101 Executive Center Drive, Suite 300, Brentwood, TN   37027, 370-8500, Jim Easter [] King  

Number One – Where Is The Evidence and Why

There is  a great deal of discussion in the healthcare community about Evidence Based Design.  The students will define from their research what this term might mean along with interviews with A/E leaders in the area (HFR, GSP, ESa, Thomas and Miller, etc).  They will then apply the EBD concept to the design of a room in a hospital from a select list of hospital rooms, for example;  Surgery OR, Inpatient Room, Imaging Room, Emergency Treatment Room or Central Sterile Supply Room.   In each case the evidence will be collected by them on;  infections, hazardous conditions, sterile/asepsis issues, engineering and technical concerns and future suggestions for “improving the design of the selected area”.  This subject is being discussed a lot in the inpatient care areas of hospitals on the private vs. semi-private areas and includes everything from the hand washing sinks to toilets/showers, beds, etc.  Part of their work would involve product vendors and their thoughts; for example the bed supplier, the OR light supplier, the sterilizer supplier, etc, etc.


Number Two – What Is Sustainability and How Has It Changed Our A/E Efforts

LEED is a term relating to the world of energy conservation and SUSTAINABILITY of healthcare environments.  The students  will define what both LEED and SUSTAINABILTY mean in an A/E context and work with the HFR specifications department (Emily Mowry, LEED ap and Specifications Writer plus Vandy Grad) to learn what are the credentialing requirements and how do they apply to hospitals and buildings in general.  Why do clients desire this certification and accreditation and what are the key variables. They would then select an application to design, for example;  HVAC equipment, exterior skin/fenestration, site design and use of natural resources, etc. etc.  


Number Three – Dialysis and End Stage Renal Disease/Next Generation Design

The Dialysis process for end stage renal disease is wonderful for those individuals requiring life support and life sustainability. The students would work with the National Kidney Foundation of Middle TN to define kidney disease and how this dialysis process works.    Working with a Dialysis provider, probably the DCI, Inc. not for profit center they would tour facilities, discuss the process and work on a design for the optimum dialysis station.  They would need to understand the chair, the machinery, the water and liquid supply and how the entire process works.  From this endeavor they would design the future dialysis area with the concept of function, form, economy and time built into the process.  They would be required to work with DCI or other provider to conduct an on-site case study with observation, participation and internet research as well as product and systems design factors included.

Mixed majors
9.  Brandon Wilson, Roche Diagnostics Operations,
The following two projects are likely ME or EE/CompE based and supervised projects.  See Barnett or Black for more information & to set up teams.

Offline Inspection System:

Develop an Offline In Circuit Test (ICT) System.  System will test Glucose Test Strips from multiple production process stages.  System will detect various failure modes and will aid in feedback to root cause analysis.  System will include a mechanical fixture which will locate, clamp, and probe the Test Strip in preparation for testing.  System will include an integrated PC containing software for an operator interface and an automated Test Routine.  Software interface and routine will be developed such that test results are accurate, repeatable, and displayed in a meaningful manor to an operator.  System will be used in a production environment and will be designed to be robust, ergonomic and easily maintained.

High Speed Inspection System:

Develop a high speed inspection system.  System will create a two-dimensional profile of a translucent liquid on a plastic film substrate.  Using this 2D profile the following inspections will be performed: the thickness (microns), width (mm), placement (mm), as well as other features will be measured/detected.  System will be capable of sending/receiving I/O signals to/from a PLC to ensure inspections are properly communicated.  System will also include mechanical fixtures to physically mount/attach the inspection system to production equipment.  Mechanical fixtures will hold the system in correct position/orientation to ensure a robust inspection is performed.  System may or may not include off the shelf vision equipment and/or laser sensors etc.

ME & EE/CompE & BME

10.  Therese Stein
I am awaiting contact information for potential local projects for NISH.  In the past students worked on Goodwill and a local box-folding facility.  See for more information.

"I’m waiting to hear back from the E.D. at Goodwill in Nashville.  His staff believes it’s a “go” but want to get the final say-so from him.  He is supposed to contact me on Monday"  9/11/2009...............with no response as of Oct 1, 2009 this listing is cancelled.

11.  Robert Malkin, Engineering World Health
A listing of this years projects may be seen here.  (This is a .docx file...)    More details will later be posted on the EWH website...

BME & EE/CompE

12.  Russ Waitman, Assistant Professor, Department of Biomedical Informatics, VUMC 936-3335, King   

Several BME/CS or CompE projects Medical Informatics projects are given below.  See this for data...

1. Leverage improvements in microbiology systems to enhance antimicrobial stewardship

2. Quantify the hospital’s medication administration performance with BCMA data

3. Enhance medication reconciliation with codification via RxNorm

4. Streamline discharge and transfer processes

5. Conduct knowledge discovery on inpatient data linked to mortality by incorporating Social Security Death Index data. Investigate newer database technologies for clinical data mart.

6. Evaluate the impact of inpatient/outpatient allergy integration

7. Enhance Alerting/Task list tools for nursing.

8. Continuous protocol evaluation: are nurse managed heparin and insulin optimizing care?

9. Build systems to monitor drug decision support effectiveness; build new approaches that suggest personalized alternatives.

10. New sources for decision support: create a Vital Signs Repository with q30second data and integrate with perioperative systems

 BME & CompE    Posted 9/1/2009

13.  Smith, Gary []      King    

I am been interested in the possibility of developing a concept for an automated Tc-99m radiopharmaceutical (RP) dispensing system.  Nearly 80% of all the radioisotope we use in Nuclear Medicine is Tc-99m in various chemical forms for use in bone, liver/spleen, RBC, cardiac perfusion, kidney, and other scans.  These chemical complexes are all manufactured by a radiopharmacist using a kit preparation by hand after manual elution of a Mo-99/Tc-99m generator.  It would make sense to create a machine that would elute the generator, synthesize the RP’s, perform QC checks of the isotope eluant and RP’s, and dispense those RP’s using microprocessor control.  This has been done for PET radiopharmaceuticals (e.g. see and ), but not yet for Tc-99m, at least not as far as I know.  This would be valuable to improve quality control of general nuclear medicine (i.e. not PET) RP’s as well as decrease radiation dose to the radiopharmacists involved with Tc-99m RP kit synthesis.    Posted 9/10/2009     BME + ME + EE/CompE

14.  Hazel, Michael Luis, Assistant Director of Football Operations  & Andy Frank  King

PROJECT PROPOSAL:  Web-Based College Football Recruiting Engine

BACKGROUND:  The concept for this recruiting engine originated from an internal staff endeavor in which we set out to more appropriately allocate our coaches in recruiting.  The specific goal of the endeavor was to recommend where our coaches should be recruiting.  As a result of this endeavor, a prototype “engine” was born resulting in modifications to our current recruiting strategies and practices.

DESCRIPTION:  A web-based database and display system allowing users to view current and historical college football recruiting data.  This application will be designed for use in the college football industry (i.e. college football coaching staffs) and into a product for public (i.e. college football fans) use.

Users will be able to:

  •          determine how to allocate recruiting resources based on information generated from the system

  •          determine where specific college football programs are recruiting

  •          determine what states, counties, and high schools produce the most prospects

  •          provide comparative analysis between two or more institutions based on historical recruiting data

  •          present data results in a visually appealing format

DEVELOPMENT STATUS:  A working prototype has been built and is in use.  We are currently using PowerPoint as a display platform and our data is being driven by Excel.

OBJECTIVES:  Use available technology to display current and historical recruiting data allowing the end user to make more informed and consequently better recruiting decisions.

Take current prototype and design a recruiting engine ready use for the following markets:

  •          a web-based database and display system suitable for the college football industry

  •          a web-based database and display system suitable for the general public

- Any major with Access abilities    Posted 9/15/2009
15.  Mahadevan-Jansen, Anita King

Project 1 :

 Hypooarathyroidism is a condition caused by reduced function of the parathyroid glands.  The most common cause of this condition is the accidental removal of the parathyroid glands during endocrine surgery.  This can be caused by difficulty in distinguishing the parathyroid tissue from the other tissues found in the neck, as well as determining which glands are diseased during partial parathyroidectomy.

 It has been shown that the Thyroid and Parathyroid tissues exhibit different autofluorescence when excited by certain wavelengths of light.  The idea is that using a light source, the tissue can be excited and in real-time, the parathyroid can be imaged to improve intraoperative efficiency.

 The design project involves modification of an Infrared viewer to enable field of view clarity, reconfiguration of the viewer for integration with existing operating room equipment, determination of optimal image coupling for clear visualization, and implementation of image processing to aid in tissue distinction.

 Taken by Isaac Pence

Project 2:

Raman Spectroscopy (RS) is a technique capable of performing rapid, non-invasive detection of skin cancers through the detection of in-elastically scattered photons. The basis for tissue diagnosis is this; the wavelength shift of the in-elastically scattered photons contains information on the specific biochemical composition of the measured tissue. The caveat of this molecular specificity, however, lies in the fact that the Raman signal is weak.

My lab is working on developing novel probes that can perform RS as well as microscopic imaging. The general idea is to scan for morphological irregularities with the imaging, and then lock in and acquire a Raman spectrum for specific characterization of the molecular content of the lesion.

This design project involves building an arm-like mechanism to hold the RS-Optical Imaging probe that provides the ability to precisely translate the probe across the surface of the patients skin along with the the sufficient stability to acquire a Raman spectrum, which can take up to 45 sec to acquire. The arm will also need to be small enough to mount to the existing cart that houses the system hardware and allows translation to and from the clinics.

 BME & ME & EE

 Posted 9/14/09

Project 3 Image Mosaicing Software for Confocal Imaging

Image mosaicing is the act of combining two or more images and is used in many applications in computer vision, image processing, and computer graphics.  It aims to combine images such that no obstructive boundaries exist around overlapped regions and to create a mosaic image that exhibits as little distortion as possible from the original images.  The handheld confocal microscope system developed in the Biomedical Optics laborarory provides 500 mm square images of skin tissue for skin cancer detection and analysis.  However, a larger field of view is essential for consistent diagnosis across the lesion which requires image mosaicing. 

As part of this project, two different versions of available mosaicing software will be provided. The group will assess if either of them will be suitable for our application and for interfacing with our device. Modifications will have to be made to the selected software to make it work with our system. Additionally, registration methods will have to be incorporated to allow seamless stitching of the imaging. Further, the system also provides images at various depths of the skin, thus the mosaicing software will require a method for registering the depth of the image as well, so that the image stitching can be accurate in x-y as well as z-directions. 

 BME & CompE?   Posted 9/23/2009

 Project 4:           Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) is used percutaneously and surgically to treat hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and colorectal cancer metastases in the liver when patients are not eligible for resection. Temperature control during this process is essential to ensure that the effectiveness of this treatment.

            Current RFA probes use thermocouples at the tip of the electrode to monitor tissue temperature, which is not ideal. The electrode itself is not actually heated, but the tissue in contact with the probe is heated due to the tissue's electrical resistance.

            We have shown in previous studies that changes in tissue temperature can be detected as changes in optical properties using fluorescence and diffuse-reflectance spectroscopy. We have also seen that tissue fluorescence exhibits a temperature dependence that is independent of optical properties.

            Our goal is to design an RFA probe with an integrated fluorescence probe. This will probably include the combination of a delivery and a collection fiber optic alongside an RFA electrode. We expect that this fluorescence measurement will provide a more accurate, and non-invasive, temperature reading of the tissue being ablated during RFA procedures.


16.  Drs. John Wikswo & Kevin Seale King

Project Name: A low-cost, planar peristaltic pump for microfluidic devices

Background: The Vanderbilt Institute for Integrative Biosystems Research and Education (VIIBRE) has been studying mechanisms for movement of fluid on-chip microfluidic bioMEMS devices, including peristaltic (Quake-style) valve pumps, electroosmotic flow, electromechanical braille systems and two new micro-stepper motor-driven rotary peristaltic devices. The goal is to develop compact and low-cost pumps for a variety of applications, including point-of-care devices for medical diagnosis.

Description: We have an immediate need for a BME senior design team to design and fabricate a device to couple microfabricated planar PDMS channels with macrofabricated (machine shop) threaded rod. The ultimate aim is to create a computer-controlled stepper-motor actuated pump module for use with disposable microfluidic pump chips.

Development status: We have preliminary designs and working prototypes, and have conducted a variety of tests to document the performance of one of several pump designs. Much of the work in the immediate future involves development of the mechanical fixtures required to interface the rotary cam, termed a mandrel, to the microfluidic device. Skills to be gained on this project include microfabrication, mechanical design and fabrication, quantitative measurements on microfluidic devices, and computer programming.


John P. Wikswo, Gordon A. Cain University Professor
Director, Vanderbilt Institute for Integrative Biosystems Research and Education Professor of Biomedical Engineering, Molecular Physiology & Biophysics, and Physics
6301 Stevenson Center
Phone: (615) 343-4124 Fax: (615) 322-4977 ...

Please copy your enquiries to and Kevin.Seale@Vanderbilt.Edu

 BME & EE & ME                  Posted 9/17/2009

17.  Dr Colleen Brophy, Vascular Surgery, 65968,   King
Project 1:  Calcium Imaging:

This project would involve developing a device to measure calcium fluxes in smooth muscle cells.  While calcium imaging has been done for skeletal and cardiac muscle, much less is known about smooth muscle.  The lab has many of the necessary components and the project would largely be optimization.

Project 2:  Vein Device:

This project would involve developing a device to use to prepare veins for coronary and peripheral  bypass operations.  The device would stabilize the vein to allow side branch ligation without damage to the vein.  The device would also prevent over distension of the vein.  This project would involve watching vein graft preparation and developing a prototype to assist with the procedure.  In addition, this project would involve developing a nontoxic marker to mark tissues in the operating room.  The currently available surgical skin markers contain isopropyl alcohol as a solvent which is toxic to tissues.  The marker would be used to maintain orientation of the vein prior to implantation.

Project 3:  Venous Return:

While arterial hemodynamics have been extensively studied, much less is known about venous hemodynamics.  For example, how does blood get from the distal saphenous vein at the ankle back up to the heart against gravity.  This project would involve modeling venous hemodynamics and then validating the model using physiologic systems to measure saphenous venous contractile tone and venous hemodynamics in normal subjects.  Based on this information, developing mechanisms that would improve venous return would benefit patients with chronic venous insufficiency. is interested in joining any group that takes this project...

BME & ME   Posted 9/15/2009

18.  Hak-Joon Sung, BME, 26896, 5921 Stevenson  King

Project 1. Engineering vascular constructs:    

Vascular disease is the most prevalent disease in the United States with over 1 in 5 men and women being affected.  One way to address this issue is to develop tissue engineered vascular constructs to replace the diseased vessels. Good biocompatibility and possibility to process into desired configurations add to the popularity of biodegradable polymers. A desirable feature would be synchronization of polymer degradation with the replacement by natural tissue produced from cells. Therefore, the degradation properties of a scaffold are of crucial importance for biomaterial selection and design but also the long-term success of a tissue-engineered construct. Thus, for the purpose of this study we will develop porous tubular biodegradable scaffolds. We will investigate polymer degradation and rate-dependent effects comparing a fast degrading polymer and a slow degrading polymer on changes in porous structures. Vascular smooth muscle cells will be cultured in vitro on the scaffolds and we will assess cell viability and will measure the degradation rate-dependent cellular production of natural tissues (e.g., collagen).


Project 2. Design of static strain system to develop an in vitro hypertension model:

Vascular walls often experience abnormally high blood pressures under pathological states such as hypertension. This pressure, whether in the form of shear stress or stationary or pulsatile stretch, has been shown to lead to vascular wall remodeling on the cellular level. This project is designed to construct an in vitro model to accurately represent hypertension; because it is a chronic stress system that we are modeling, the apparatus we are using does not involve moving parts, but rather is able to hold the environment at stationary strain. Therefore we will design and construct a cell culture-compatible stationary strain system. Vascular cells will be seeded on a surface with the ability to stretch yet maintain uniform surface characteristics, both in terms of chemistry and stiffness. Our idea is to use a double layer, composed of silicone for mechanical integrity and gelatin as the surface that interacts with the cells. Thus both layers need to be tested and characterized thoroughly before cells come into play. Variations in both layers, in terms of Young’s modulus (or elastic properties) for silicone and surface chemistry and stiffness for gelatin, will be studied in order to determine their effects on cellular phenotype.

 BME, ChE, possible ME                                 Posted 9/16/2009

19.  Dr. Bob Galloway, BME, 38102  King

In Radio Frequency Ablation (RFA) of tumors one of the primary difficulties is placing the ablator in the center of the desired ablation zone.  Present best practice is to use ultrasound but 44% of all liver tumors are indistinguishable from healthy tissue with ultrasound and even if discernable finding the center of a three dimensional structure with a 2D view is difficult.  In a project between Bob Galloway of the VU BME department and Yuman Fong of the Department of Surgery at Memorial Sloan Kettering, we want to develop a phantom that will allow testing of ablation instrument placement accuracy and time to target.  This will involve developing an anthropomorphic phantom which can be CT scanned and ultrasound scanned showing targets. The targets, representing tumors, will detect the presence of the ablation tool. We will use ultrasound and tomographic guidance and perform a series of accuracy and time-to-target trials.

 Max group size: 3.  BME + EE + ME?   Posted 9/16/2009

20.  Dr. Brian Rothman, Anesthesiology, 61206  King
Project:  Apnea Detector

*     Vision: to enable physicians to spend less time worrying about patients with history or risks of apneic events. This would be a cheap (reusable or disposable) device to monitor a patient's breathing and airway. there are risks for some people in normal sleep patterns, however under sedation or anesthetic this risk increases immensely. The goal is to save lives.

*     What it does: Detect, using an electronic device, sleep apnea events. When detected, attempt to both alert staff and awaken the patient.

*     What it will be used for: It will be used on at risk patients at VUH to monitor and help prevent unnecessary fatalities.

*     Team Qualifications: At least 1 or 2 BME/EE students would be good (or any one who has had EECE 213).

 Posted 9/16/2009

21.  Dr. Duco Jansen or Mark Mackanos                King

Optical Nerve Stimulation Laser Range Finder

Biomedical Optics Research Lab

Nerve stimulation is the process of initiating action potentials in neurons through an external energy source.  In research developed in the biomedical optics lab, an infrared laser is used as the external energy source for nerve stimulation.  Initiation of action potentials is an important intervention in many research and clinical procedures as a therapeutic or diagnostic tool.  In the lab this laser system is used to stimulate the rat sciatic nerve while clinically we are moving towards stimulating human nerves during surgery.  The laser system delivers the laser energy through an optical fiber; however, the laser beam diverges when it comes out of the optical fiber and thus diameter changes based on the distance between the optical fiber and the nerve of interest. Since we are dealing with living systems the nerve moves relative to the fiber due to breathing and pulsatile blood flow. By changing the fiber-nerve distance, the laser intensity on the nerve of interest is also changed.  It is essential that the laser intensity be well known to cause the nerve stimulation while preventing thermal damage to the nerve and surrounding tissue.  Therefore, there is a need for an optical system that can identify the distance of the optical fiber from the nerve of interest to allow for this system to be accurately applied to nerves in the clinical environment.

A laser distance meter or range finder is a device which uses a laser beam to determine the distance to a reflective object. The most common form of laser distance meter operates on the time of flight principle by sending a laser pulse in a narrow beam towards the object and measuring the time taken by the pulse to be reflected off the target and returned to the sender. The accuracy of the instrument is determined by the rise or fall time of the laser pulse and the speed of the receiver. One that uses very sharp laser pulses and has a very fast detector can range an object to within a few millimeters.  For high precision sub-millimeter measurements triangulation and other techniques are often used.

This project will involve the development of a fiber optic based laser distance meter that will provide accurate sub-millimeter distance measurements between the optical fiber used for nerve stimulation and the targeted sciatic nerve of interest.  In addition software development will me needed to allow for a computer based system that will operate the laser distance meter.  The overall goal is to develop a system that can eventually be used in the clinic to help stimulate nerves in patients for therapeutic and diagnostic applications.

BME & EE   Reposted 9/17/2009 under Dr. Jansen
21.  Dr. Dan France, 21407, Perioperative QA     King

In Perioperative Services we have a need to track the locations of anesthesiologists in the OR suite.  Our most basic need is to be able to record (to a database) entry and exit times from operating rooms using either a wifi-based or other asset tracking system. A future goal is determine location within a room. There are many commercial systems available and emerging technologies like the iPhone, etc are providing new opportunities to implement such systems.  First priority: We would like to see a student group develop and test their own tracking system.  Second Priority: have a student group (possibly same student group) evaluate (effectiveness, cost, ease of installation, etc) the most popular commercial products and provide a recommendation to the department at the completion of this work.

BME & EE & CompE  Posted 9/17/2009
22.  Robert j. Webster III, ME dept.,   Webster

Project Title: Design of a Minimally Invasive Laser Scanning System

Project Sponsor: Pathfinder Therapeutics, Inc. Nashville, TN

Project Co-Sponsor: Vanderbilt Medical & Electromechanical Design Laboratory

Description: This project involves giving surgeons “x-ray vision” when they perform surgery.  The goal is to scan the surface contours of internal organs in the human body through a very small incision. These surface contours can then be matched to preoperative CT or MRI scan data to show surgeons the internal structures (blood vessels, nerves, tumors, etc.) before they begin to make an incision in the organ. Further information on this project is available at:

The responsibility of the Sr. Design team in this project will be to take an initial prototype system consisting of a conoscope and an optical tracking device that has been used in benchtop experiments, and design 1) a mechanical interface that enables the device to work through a port in a pressurized abdomen, 2) electrical interfacing to add control buttons to the device, 3) development of an integrated software framework to coordinate the timing of measurements collected by the two devices and display data on a computer screen. The team will consist of two computer engineers and two mechanical engineers.

This project is jointly sponsored by Pathfinder Therapeutics, a Nashville-based startup company, and Professor Webster’s MED Laboratory. The design team on this project will work closely with Ray Lathrop, a graduate student in the MED laboratory.  There is funding available for this project, so that students will be able to construct a prototype of the device they design.

.  This project is sponsored by Pathfinder Therapeutics (the startup company spun out of Bob Galloway's work), with whom I have recently begun to collaborate as well.


Ideally, I would like to see two CompEs and two MEs on this project.

However, one BME could substitute for one of the MEs if there is a student particularly interested in the project.

Posted 9/21/2009
23.  Dave Owens, Owen Graduate School of Management, and MBA students   King

2009 Senior Design Projects/ Vanderbilt University/ Sponsored by Project Pyramid

Subject to approvals, a reasonable budget will be available for each project

Opportunity for engineering students to work with a team of advisors consisting of a professional engineer and MBA students at Owen Vanderbilt.

1.      1.   Biogas digester

Objective: To design a sufficient revenue-generating/cost-savings biogas digester model that uses human waste in order to efficiently scale biogas digester production throughout the Bangladeshi market.

The lack of sanitation throughout Bangladesh (exacerbated by frequently overflowing latrines) is a significant issue due in large part to a lack of incentives for emptying out latrines once full. Meanwhile, biogas production using animal waste presents considerable potential to achieve financial sustainability due to its output of biogas and a superior fertilizing product. Project Pyramid has a special interest in developing rugged, low-cost biogas digesters capable of producing both electricity and cooking fuel that can also provide a financial incentive for waste removal from latrines.

Suggested team: Combination of BME, ChBE, EE, ME

2.       2Room lighting

Objective: To design an affordable, durable, and easy-to-replicate home lighting solution.

Even among those connected to the power grid, power is only available approximately 10% of the time in Baroipotol, Bangladesh, due to pronounced load shedding. This inaccessibility to electricity undoubtedly decreases worker productivity and time available for studying. This project should either design a method of lighting a room of 15’ x 15’ dimensions or provide enough light to sit at a desk and read with no other light available. Any method of power generation is acceptable; however, the power grid may not be used as a source of power given its poor reliability.

Relevant specifications:

         Total retail cost, including installation expenses, would ideally be under $5. For higher quality solutions that provide a greater level of brightness, a cost of under $10 may be acceptable.

         The final product should be durable enough to last at least 2 years, and ideally 10 years or more.

         Assume that most basic electrical components are readily available.

Suggested team: ChBE, EE, ME

3.  Biodiesel

Objective: To design a low-cost method of harvesting biodiesel as a source of energy. This energy could be used for lighting, cooking, or powering a generator used to irrigate rice fields.

Case studies and published literature have identified biodiesel as a highly inexpensive alternative to petrol. While Bangladesh as a country has settle don the use of natural gas as a fuel alternative, its supply of fuel is reportedly nearing its end at an alarming rate. Investigation of alternative sources of fuel, especially to power irrigation systems for rice paddies, is of particular interest to the Baroipotol community.

Suggested team: BME, ChBE, EE, ME

4.  Adaptation of Current Lighting Approaches

Objective: To design an affordable, kinetically-powered, portable light.

Several models of shake-lights and crank-lights marketed as either flashlights or lanterns already exist on the market. However, the current products that have been tested do not provide sufficient luminosity over a reasonable period of time for a person regularly dependent on a manually-generated source of lighting. Additionally, many of the products have been designed for the developed world, leading to additional consumer cost due to unneeded accessories and product marketing as novelty items. This project strives to better align existing technologies with the needs of the developing world.

Relevant specifications:

         Total cost should be ideally under $2.

         Special consideration should be given to a "hybrid" design incorporating both the functionality of flashlight and the lantern.

         Approximately 30 seconds of motion (cranking or shaking) should provide sufficient light for reading for 15 minutes.

         The final product should be durable enough to last at least 2 years, and ideally 5 years or more.

         Assume that most basic electrical components are readily available.

Suggested team: EE, ME

Posted 9/28/2009
24  Open for a director...    King

I have an idea for a senior design project (if there is a full-time BME faculty member to advise a group of students).  Yesterday my middle son, who has obstructive sleep apnea, had an appointment with a Vanderbilt neurologist.  As we talked about the issue of compliance among children with CPAP—with the likelihood of the mask being removed or displaced or the system being turned off in the child’s sleep, she said that several parents have said they wished there was a remote monitor to alert parents when the system was no longer in place/functioning as desired.  I mentioned to her that seemed like a possibility as a  BME senior design project.  She is very interested and would be willing to speak with students and advise the project from the clinical side.

Just thought I’d pass the idea along.  Her name is Robert Leu and her e-mail address is

Judy Lewis, Ph.D.
Adjunct Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering
5818 Stevenson Center

Posted 10/12/2009
25  Kevin Robinson, Belmont University     King

I did not get a notice from you this year about ideas for student projects, but we have an idea for one.  We have a piece of equipment (series of 4 force plates) that we believe can provide us with the ability to track a person’s center of mass during a movement.  We would love to see if one of your groups could write software to track this data for us and also to be able to look at the consistency of this data from one event to another.  Would this be a viable option for one of your groups? 






Kevin Robinson

Posted 10/12/2009
26.  ChE design projects, posted 10/13/2009


Solid State Lighting

Prof. Sandra Rosenthal’s (Chemistry) research group has developed ultra-small cadmium selenide (CdSe) nanocrystals that emit white light. This raises the intriguing possibility of using these nanocrystals as a white-light phosphor for solid state lighting applications. This project will be focussed on designing a solid state lighting device which incorporates these white light emitting nanocrystals in its design.  The project will be supervised by Professors Rogers and Roth (ChBE).


Nanocrystal Fabrication

The current process used to fabricate Prof. Rosenthal’s cadmium selenide nanocrystals yields only milligrams per batch.  This project will be focussed on designing a process which can produce nanocrystals at a much higher rate while maintaining their unique emission qualities. The project will be supervised by Professors Rogers and Roth (ChBE).


Vanderbilt Biodiesel Project

Vanderbilt has a small biodiesel processing facility overseen by Mr. Robin Midgett (ME).  One of the by-products of the process is glycerol.  This project is focussed on identifying and producing a useable/salable product or products  made from the glycerol.  This project will be supervised by Professor Rogers (ChBE) and Mr. Midgett (ME).


Data Acquisition System

The software and hardware currently used to collect data from an ion beam accelerator is quickly becoming obsolete.  Prof. Rogers (ChBE) is looking for a team to develop a LabView based data acquisition system for this application.

 Production of Lycopene

 Most of the orange, yellow, and red colors of leaves, fruits and flowers result from low concentrations of carotenoids.  These essential nutrients the human diet are thought to have health benefits by decreasing the risk of various diseases, particularly certain cancers, cardiovascular, and eye diseases.  Lycopene is one of the most important carotenoids.     Tomatoes and tomato-derived products are the richest sources of lycopene.  It is currently produced by solvent extraction and subsequent purification.

  This project is to investigate the current commercial technologies for the production of lycopene.  Also include the extraction by supercritical carbon dioxide.  Some laboratory investigations may be required to investigate the supercritical carbon dioxide extraction technology.

 Initial work this semester will include identification of the potential extraction and purification processes and preliminary cost estimates of the processes to screen the best candidate technologies.

Professors Debelak and Roth 

Project Name: Conversion of Glycerol to Fuel Range Hydrocarbon Mixtures

Background: Glycerol is a by-product from the production of biodiesel. Approximately 10 lbs of glycerol is produced for every 100 lbs of biodiesel. Currently there is an oversupply of glycerol in the market place. Former glycerol refineries have been shut down. In addition, the surplus of glycerol has resulted in a nearly 10-fold reduction in its price. What is needed is an economical method to transform the waste glycerol into a high value product.

Description: Glycerol is basically an alcohol. There is extensive work in the literature on the conversion of alcohols to hydrocarbons. The most well developed process is the Mobil process to produce gasoline from methanol over a zeolite catalyst in a single step. Catalytic conversion of alcohols to olefins has been studied over a variety of other catalysts other than zeolites. Polyphosphoric acid has been used to dehydrate ethanol to produce ethers and ethylene. Longer chained hydrocarbons have been converted to fuel like products also using polyphosphoric acid.

Objectives: (1) To examine the thermodynamics of the conversion of glycerol to hydrocarbon fuels. (2) Conduct reactions of glycerol using a polyphosphoric acid catalyst to produce fuel like hydrocarbons. (3) Develop a kinetic model of the reactions.


Kenneth A. Debelak, Karl B. Schnelle

Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering



ChBE 234 - Product Design

Submitted by Professors Cummings and McCabe

You are to design the killer iPhone app for chemical engineering students.  This app –codename DistillNation – will be so useful to every English-speaking chemical engineering student with an iPhone or an iPod Touch will be willing to spend $2 to buy it.  It will be that useful.

To design the app, you must design every screen (i.e., provide a screen shot and navigation between screens) and define the functionality of every button.  It needs to be complete enough that we can put it in the hands of an iPhone app programmer who has no chemical engineering experience and be able to write the code.

What should go in there?  YOU need to decide this.  Think about all the things you would have liked to have had at your fingertips during your undergraduate experience at Vanderbilt.  For example, you might like to be able to:

Perform a McCabe-Thiele construction for a mixture of fluids described by Raoult’s law

Compute a steady state mass and energy balance on a process with or without reaction

Recall the design equations for a heat exchanger

Estimate an activity coefficient using UNIQUAC/UNIFAC

Short-cut design of a distillation column

These are just examples.  You might decide you need to include a physical properties database of ~20-50 common molecules, or be able to get this information through queries to relevant online databases.

If the best design is compelling enough, we will pay to have it programmed and submit it to the Apple App store.  After recovery of developmental costs, revenue from the App will be shared with the Vanderbilt AIChE student chapter to fund future activities.

Imagine if this was successful.  What a great entry in your resume!

Self-Cleaning Glass

ChBE 234W Project

Contact:  Prof. G. Kane Jennings (

From automobile windshields to glass skyscrapers, the demand for self-cleaning glass surfaces is immense.  This project will explore methods to fabricate superhydrophobic, self-cleaning coatings for glass surfaces to develop a potential commercial product.  The project will involve concepts taught in ChBE 234W, including customer need, economics, and human interface design, in addition to laboratory testing of technical designs and approaches.  Efforts will be focused toward establishing product formulations that are straightforward for customers to use and provide the self-cleaning function on a kinetically rapid timescale.  For more information, please contact Prof. Jennings.

27.  EE Design projects - see Dr. Black for information

Project Title: Conference Laser Pointing System

Description: Two project teams will develop two systems that work with each other. The first system is a handheld device and is depicted in  REF _Ref241301193 \h Figure 1. The handheld system shall have a button that turns on a red laser to point in the direction the user has chosen. It shall also have buttons for changing slides forward and backward that interface to a computer system. The handheld system shall also detect the X, Y coordinates of where the user is pointing at the monitor. The system shall aid in smoothing a user’s motion so that shaky laser movement can be reduced. This X, Y position is then output wirelessly to the second system. The specifics of the interface requirements will be worked out between the two teams working on the overall system and is subject to approval. Ergonomic design is a goal of this project, something that is easy to use for a presenter. It is expected that this system will involve converting and regulating battery power, imaging the laser on the monitor, and processing the image. This project could use a mix of electrical and computer engineering students.

Figure  SEQ Figure \* ARABIC 1. Handheld System Implementation Cartoon

The second system for a project system is a mounted system and is depicted in  REF _Ref241302014 \h Figure 2. This system will project a strong green laser (other colors could be considered here) at a large conference screen. The input to the system will be a wireless X, Y coordinate for the laser pointer as well as whether or not it is on or off. The mounted system shall have a calibration mode to set the corners of the screen so that the X, Y given from the handheld system will map very close to the mounted system. It would be nice if the system could self-calibrate, but that is a goal not a requirement. The mounted system should be able to be placed fairly close to the screen or as far away as the projector. The system shall dampen vibrations, so the laser and mirrors should be mounted mechanically separate. This system shall be powered through a wall outlet. This system shall also be repeatable so that multiple mounted systems can be used from a single coordinate input. It is expected that this system will use power conversion and regulation, control of a laser and mirror, and mechanical mounting. This project could use a mix of electrical and computer engineering students as well as a mechanical engineering student.

Figure  SEQ Figure \* ARABIC 2. Mounted System Implementation Cartoon



Project Title: USB Oscilloscope

Description: This project involves building a simple oscilloscope that uses a laptop or desktop to view a signal. The oscilloscope shall have two input coaxial connectors, one for the signal and the other for a trigger. The input impedance shall either be 50 W, 1 MW, or selectable between these two. The input shall be able to be able to distinguish signals from 10 mV peak-to-peak to 30 V peak-to-peak with at least 8 bits of resolution. The input range shall be controlled by custom software on the computer. The signal shall be displayed on the computer continuously at the highest possible speed that USB can accommodate. It would also be nice if a higher speed signal could be captured by the device in a single shot and then viewed soon after on the computer. The computer software shall be capable of making some measurements including signal level and frequency of the input signal. The main objective of this project is low cost per unit in production. Accuracy of the signal sampling or viewing is a secondary goal, but if the displayed signal looks like the actual signal, then that will be good enough. The usage of the oscilloscope is just to examine what a signal looks like, detailed measurements should be made with other equipment. The projects will require a mix of electrical and computer engineering students.

Project Title: USB Signal Generator

Description: This project involves building a signal generator that uses a laptop or desktop to view signals. The signal generator shall have eight digital outputs, and one analog output. The analog signal shall be a coaxial connector and the digital signals shall be a ribbon connector. It also shall be expandable to eight digital inputs and one analog input. The digital outputs shall be capable of working at one of the following voltage levels. It would be great if they could work at all the signal levels:

         0, 5 V

         0, 3.3 V

         0, 2.5 V

         0, 1.8 V

         0, 1.2 V

The analog signal shall generate periodic signals such as square waves, sine waves, triangle waves, etc. It would be nice if they would also perform direct digital synthesis. Computer software should make the generation of the signals fairly simple. Think in terms of reading a data file and generating the signals. The main objective of this project is ease of use. This should result in a prototype at the end of the year. The projects will require a mix of electrical and computer engineering students.


Project Title: Particle Telescope

Description: This is a potential space experiment for radiation effects. The project will develop an approach for detecting particles (ions, protons, electrons) as they enter and leave a region of space. The project will also develop the approach for placing electronics components to test (memories) in the center of the telescope and connecting them to external monitoring electronics. The goal is to minimize potential interference of the wiring once within the telescope. The overall objective of this task is to produce a space experiment that can correlate particle direction with the electronic response of the part. This would be fairly cutting edge work, not been done before. You would be able to test the approach at Vanderbilt in our particle accelerators (protons). The projects could use a mix of any type of engineering student though electrical engineering and mechanical engineering are primary needs.

Project Title: Offline Inspection System, Roche Diagnostic Operations

Description: Develop an Offline In Circuit Test (ICT) System.  System will test Glucose Test Strips from multiple production process stages.  System will detect various failure modes and will aid in feedback to root cause analysis.  System will include a mechanical fixture which will locate, clamp, and probe the Test Strip in preparation for testing.  System will include an integrated PC containing software for an operator interface and an automated Test Routine.  Software interface and routine will be developed such that test results are accurate, repeatable, and displayed in a meaningful manor to an operator.  System will be used in a production environment and will be designed to be robust, ergonomic and easily maintained. This project needs two electrical engineering and two mechanical engineering students.

Project Title: High Speed Inspection System, Roche Diagnostic Operations

Description: Develop a high speed inspection system.  System will create a two-dimensional profile of a translucent liquid on a plastic film substrate.  Using this 2D profile the following inspections will be performed: the thickness (microns), width (mm), placement (mm), as well as other features will be measured/detected.  System will be capable of sending/receiving I/O signals to/from a PLC to ensure inspections are properly communicated.  System will also include mechanical fixtures to physically mount/attach the inspection system to production equipment.  Mechanical fixtures will hold the system in correct position/orientation to ensure a robust inspection is performed.  System may or may not include off the shelf vision equipment and/or laser sensors etc. This project needs three electrical engineering and one mechanical engineering students.


Project Title: Acoustic Apnea Detector

Description: An inexpensive, reusable (possibly disposable) apnea detector can be constructed from a sensitive audio microphone attached with adhesive to skin overlying a subject’s pretrachea, above the suprasternal notch.  The microphone signal can be coupled electronically to a visual signal (flashing light) for each respiration detected and to a processor that provides an auditory alarm after 15 seconds elapse with no respiration detected. The ccoustic detector (contact microphone) is connected to an amplifier with bandpass filter. The signals from respiration produce a countdown timer reset. When timer reaches 0 from 15 seconds an auditory apnea alert is triggered. The alert would serve to both alert staff to the apneic event and possibly wake the patient, restore airway tone, and restore ventilation. The unit would be plastic-encased and approximately 2x2 cm in size.  Its mass of <30gm would be tolerated by awake subjects without discomfort. External features on the upper surface: power/reset switch, green led respiratory signal, and alarm speaker. The microphone (on the bottom side) would be kept in contact with the pretracheal skin by a single-use double-sided sticky film (ref: precordial adhesive disk).  The unit would be powered by a single watch battery, water-resistant, and would present no risk of shock.

Project Title: Tagged Power Monitoring System

Description: This project will develop a configurable way to monitor the power usage of systems a report their usage to a website. The power draw shall be configurable for a variety of systems to distinguish between standby operation and powered operation. The state of the system shall be uniquely reported online for user lookup. The primary use of this device is to provide a capability to report the current usage of washing and drying machines in the dormitories so that students can determine to go do laundry at that time. Another primary use is to monitor computer projectors, so that one can make sure they are turned off when they are supposed to be and preserve the failure of the expensive bulbs.

Project Title: DRONE Controlling System

Description: The team will work with Ted Bapty (VUSE-ISIS) to develop new techniques for controlling remote aircraft.

Project Title: Solar Powered Wireless Imager

Description: The team will create a system that can provide images from a mounted platform. The goal of the project is to power the system through batteries and solar panels and make use of nearby wireless signals to send the images to users. The potential usage of this application is to show parking lot availability to users, so image processing of the pictures to aid in locating a counting open spots would enhance the provided information.

Project Title: Vandy Van Tracker/Predictor

Description: There is a need and desire to improve the tracking and prediction of time of arrival for the Vandy Vans. The project team will develop an approach to report online when each Van arrives at a stop and then make use of the time of arrival statistics to predict when the next Van will arrive at each station. The tracking will replace the need for each driver to record the time of arrival and for it to be manually entered into a database. The tracking shall be able to note when a Van is going out of service so that it is no longer used to predict the time of arrival.

28.  ME design projects  see Dr. Barnett for information

ME242, Inc. Customer/Project Descriptions 2009-2010


DENSO MANUFACTURING, INC. (Automotive electromechanical component manufacturing)

LEXMARK, INC. (Ink-jet printer manufacture)

NISSAN NORTH AMERICA (Automotive manufacturing)

MILITARY SYSTEMS GROUP (MSG) (Weapons-mount-system manufacture)

VANDERBILT BIO-DIESEL INITIATIVE (Alternative fuels research/use)

ORION PROPULSION SYSTEMS (NASA Rockets – On-Orbit thrusters)

TVA SOLAR VEHICLES (Electric Transportation Technologies)

WALICK-KEMP, INC. (Power protection and environmental control systems for mission critical equipment)

ACOUSTIC MED SYSTEMS (Robotic-controlled thermal surgery/therapy)

PATHFINDER THERAPEUTICS (Internal (person) laproscopic imaging)

VU ROCKET TEAM (NASA Rocketry Contest)

ROCHE PHARMACEUTICAL (Medicine Production – Real-time QA)

Posted 10/13/2009

29.  Aaron Fitzsimmons []     King

1.  Flexible Socket Material:  We are trying to create a dynamic interface for the residual limb to connect to a prosthesis.  Ultimately we want the socket material to be flexible enough to move with the residual limb but strong enough distally to connect to the prosthetic foot mechanism.  We have developed 2 prototypes but nothing satisfactory yet.

2.  Electronic Vacuum pump: We want to design and manufacture our own electronic pump.  There are some products on the market but we want to improve upon them.  The pump serves as the suspension mechanism for keeping the prosthesis onto the residual limb, via some type of gel interface

Posted 10/14/2009
30.  Andre' Diedrich    King

Device for Carotid Sinus Stimulation for Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging

Andre' Diedrich
Vanderbilt Autonomic Dysfunction Center
Biomedical Engineering - School of Engineering


Adam W. Anderson
Vanderbilt University Institute of Imaging Science
Biomedical Engineering - School of Engineering

 Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) allows studying the function of individual brain sites during activation of specific areas with remarkable spatial and temporal resolution. Recently, brainstem fMRI has been developed which provides new insight in autonomic function of blood pressure control.

Carotid sinus stimulation using positive or negative pressure application on the neck can be used to stimulate baroreceptors and to alter neuronal activity of vasomotor centers in the brainstem. Carotid sinus stimulation can be applied unilateral/bilateral which allows to study lateral effects on function of vasomotor centers and their links to other regions of the brain in awake humans.

The present project proposes to design a device for carotid sinus stimulation using fMRI compatible materials and parts. The project task are a) assembling an fMRI compatible neck cuff for unilateral and bilatateral stimulation using suction or positive pressure, b) design of a negative/positive pressure source which has low interference with the imaging system, c) design of a computer driven controller system, and d) integration of  carotid sinus stimulator device in the scanner environment.

Posted 10/14/2009

FYI:  Air Force Capstone Senior Design Projects
FYI:  FAA Design competition  ... pursue if you wish
The Competition guidelines and many resources are posted at the Competition website:  <>
FYI:  Capstone Senior Design Projects U.  Monterrey  - Orange are full-year, yellow Fall term only..  See Dr. King for more information..
Click here for this listing
WERC Environmental Design Competition - FYI

Task 1: Portable Siphon Unit to Concentrate Pond Water and

            Bacteria into a more Manageable, Portable Sample

Task 2: Photovoltaic System Performance Indicator

Task 3: Reduction of Direct Greenhouse Gas Emissions from a Mine

 Task 4: Green RO Pretreatment

For more information    Registration Deadline December 4, 2009.

2009-2010 NASA University Design Contest in Exploration Systems

NASA invites college students to get involved with NASA's return to the moon by helping to design the tools and instruments needed for the next-generation manned moon rover. Student projects will tackle real problems to be solved for a successful manned lunar mission.

Examples of problems include:

  --Navigation in the darkness around the moon's south pole.

  --Sample retrieval and on-site analysis.

  --Radiation detection and avoidance.

  --Communication with lunar outpost, with orbiters and with Earth.

  --Video capture of sorties for transmission back to Earth.

  --Astronaut rescue and recovery.

  --Lunar regolith mitigation strategies for rover and space suits.

The contest is open to U.S. citizens enrolled full-time in an accredited post-secondary institution in the U.S., including universities, colleges, trade schools, community colleges and professional schools. Interdisciplinary teams are encouraged, across departments and institutions.

An e-mail notice of intent is due by Dec. 15, 2009. Final entries are due on or before May 15, 2010.

For more information about the contest and to register online, visit<> . Questions about the contest should be directed to Dr. Elizabeth Ward at<>.