Summer Design Experience 2010
One of the CREATE projects that was worked on this summer in the Summer Design Experience (SDE) was in conjunction with a 4.7 million dollar Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) project. The SDE students had the privilege and opportunity to develop a device that would assist soldiers and military personnel fighting in high altitude environments. Their goal was to design a device that would distribute a patented gas that has been shown to allow the user to become more effective in combat and other tasks at high altitudes within a time-span of a few minutes, instead of the days it takes to acclimate soldiers using a hypobaric chamber.
The students had hands-on experience working with doctors and a gas specialist as well as other affiliates to produce a working prototype. The students also learned valuable lessons in the design process and were able to apply what they had learned in class to real world problems. During the development of their device, they ran into real world issues including analysis reevaluations, delivery issues, unexpected product errors and much more. Even with all of these issues, the DARPA group was able to build a working prototype that accomplished what they desired.
Team SMART was a team focused on building a “smart” endotracheal tube; hence their name. This group of students worked closely with University Hospitals professionals to develop a device to be used in patients who are receiving surgery and need assisted breathing using an endotracheal tube. The main objective of their project was to create a safe, quantitative method to determine a safe time to extubate a patient.
The problem with the existing extubation method is that doctors are uncertain as to a safe time to extubate, since swelling can still occur in the trachea. If the process of extubation is done incorrectly, the process can lead to death by suffocation and other issues. The SMART team was able to learn about the extubation procedure and issues surrounding it, and to use the engineering design methods to create a prototype that would provide feedback on tracheal swelling and the patient’s breathing. Their design basically includes a modified face mask and endotracheal tube, which provides details on tracheal pressure on the tube and the level of carbon dioxide output through numerical and color-coordinated displays on a handheld device. These values indicate whether or not the patient can breathe autonomously, and therefore, if it is safe to remove the endotracheal tube.
Team SIMMEN’s project was focused on exactly what their name suggests – a simulated man, which is used by medical professors to teach students how to perform many procedures without needing an actual human. The “SimMan” reacts and is designed to function as a human would, so that students have the most realistic experience when working with it. Guided by Professor Ronald Cechner, the team’s goal was to devise a system to allow Dr. Cechner to record and monitor anesthesiology students while they worked with the SimMan, since such a system does not currently exist. SIMMEN’s problem was unique in that they were not constructing a single device; instead, they set out to build a “smart” room that contained all the sensors necessary to complete their mission. They had many parts to think about, according to the items that needed to be monitored. These included determination of whether or not a face mask was placed correctly, if a medical device was inserted into the esophagus or the trachea, vaporizer levels, temperature and pressure of an IV line, whether or not the suction machine is in use, levels of the Thorpe tubes, or the flow rate of gases, which bronchial tube an object is placed in, and if there is pressure exerted on the teeth.
The team had to design around the fact that they could not give students any indication that there were sensors on the SimMan; they could not have visible or sensory feedback. They did very well with this, as the only extruding parts came out of the back of the SimMan, a part that the students do not see generally. Additionally, their face mask and teeth sensors were flat enough so that they did not alter the appearance of the SimMan.
The team plans on continuing their project to reevaluate and improve on several of the designs they currently have in place, as well as to develop the remaining monitors for their project.