Hey y’all! After finishing up Spring Break last week it’s time to get back into the swing of things. I spent a nice relaxing week in San Diego taking in the great weather and beaches, and I feel refreshed and ready to tackle the rest of the semester.
Today I wanted to talk about one of the coolest experiences I’ve had at USC so far, and it happened only about a month ago. The Associated Students of Biomedical Engineering (ASBME) put on their first annual medical device Makeathon, and I entered and competed with four other BME students. Basically a Hackathon for BME’s, we were given 36 hours over the course of three days to brainstorm and pitch an idea, and then a few of the teams were chosen to actually prototype their devices!
The event started off with a Skype session with a NASA representative who gave use our space inspired challenge, which was to find a way to address musculoskeletal injuries in the upper extremities of astronauts during long-term spaceflight. After a few hours of deliberation, our team came up with the idea of creating what we called the “Modular Compression Splint”. Our design sought to not only treat musculoskeletal injuries, but also prevent and rehabilitate them all in one device. One of the biggest parameters of the challenge was payload, so we needed to come up with something that was not only effective, but compact.
After presenting to the judges we were chosen as one of five teams to prototype our design, so we spent the next 24 hours working hard to actually create our device. With limited materials at our disposal, some team members spend hours sewing our very own textile to be used as a stabilizing brace, while others CAD’d and 3-D printed splints and tested materials.
At the end of the competition we had a finished product, and although it wasn’t the prettiest, it worked exactly how we needed to. We utilized a hook and loop mechanism to attach elastic straps to the sleeve to allow for resistance training in a zero-gravity environment, and used our textile mesh with velcro to secure our 3-D printed finger and elbow splints.
Fabrication was complete, and we put together our final presentation and got in front of four BME professors to give our pitch. After all 15 teams presented, we waited to hear the results, and after what seemed like an eternity we were announced the 1st place winners!
Not only was it great to gain some awesome device design and fabrication experience, but I also got experience working in a team in a high pressure situation with a very quick deadline. The experience was very stressful and tiring, but one that I would absolutely do over again. Overall the weekend was a lot of fun, and I’m looking forward to ASBME’s next Makeathon!Meet Alex