Thursday, June 14, 2018

Drones, medical devices and carbon nanotube fabrics: seniors show off their capstone projects

From medical devices to drones, a flying cell phone coverage platform and a detachable intubation device, senior mechanical, aerospace, and environmental engineering students exhibited their capstone projects Thursday at the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering's Senior Project Day. Most students were mechanical, aerospace or environmental engineers, though some teams included electrical and computer engineering students as well. The varied projects were completed in just one quarter, but reflected years of hard work. 
Students worked in teams on projects proposed by a sponsor facing a real-world challenge. Seniors said the capstone class taught them lessons about collaboration and documenting their work that will transfer well to their next step, be it an industry job or furthering their education.
Here are just a few examples of the tremendous effort put forth by these graduating students.

Self-generated Lower Body Negative Pressure Device for Deep-space Missions
This team of students has designed and built a device that generates negative pressure in the lower half of the body and allows blood to shift toward the lower extremities. The device doesn’t need an external pump and power source.  The proposal for their device has been recently accepted by NASA. The goal is to eventually send a version of the device to the International Space Station, where it will help control astronaut blood flow. That’s because in Earth gravity, blood pools in the lower body by itself. But when you’re in space, in microgravity, all this blood shifts toward the upper body. Eventually, the body adapts to microgravity, but then astronauts are more likely to feel dizzy and have trouble standing when they get back to earth. So astronauts need to spend some time in a device like the one the students devised.
Team: Joel Bickel, Ross McDonald, Kavin Tangtartharakul, Richard Valle

Sponsors: Dr. Alan Hargens and Dr. Lonnie Petersen and the UC San Diego Department of Orthopedic Surgery

Collapsible Shipping Container

When UTC Aerospace ships thrust reversers—a large piece of equipment that enables aircraft to decelerate-- they also have to pay to ship the very large containers back empty. These containers can be as large as 14’ x 10’ x 12’, so it’s not cheap. Students in the MAE156 Fundamental Principles of Mechanical Design course spent a quarter designing an alternative solution: a collapsible shipping container.

Their container reduces the volume of the original container being shipped back by 75 percent via quick-release pins. The pins don’t require tools and are attached to the box, so no screws or bolts will get lost in the process. With a few simple pulls, employees can fold the shipping container down significantly, reducing the costs of shipping back the empty container.
Team: Robbie Corpuz, Joey Sun, Hyunwoo (Paul) Park, Steven Salazar, Yu (Alexis) Su
Sponsors: UTC Aerospace Systems






Human- powered medical devices

Home health care services in the U.S. have been growing alongside the increasing elderly population, but many medical devices today require electricity or batteries. Undergraduate students designed a human-powered O2 Scope that combines an otoscope to check inside a patient’s ears with a opthalmoscope to check eyes. These are normally two separate devices, but the students combined them into one, using LED lights to check the ear and eye.
The O2 Scope is powered by a linear alternator which creates an induced electromagnetic force: the user just needs to shake it back and forth for five seconds to power the LED at max brightness for 30 seconds, which is long enough for an examination.

Team: Charmaine Castillo, Andrew Chen, Ariyan Rahmanian, Christopher Wiggins
Sponsors: Khai Nguyen, MD, Clinical Services Chief of Geriatrics

Project Laputa—A Flying Base Station for Disaster Recovery Scenarios


A team of engineering students designed, built and tested a flying platform that can be used to provide cell phone coverage in areas hit by a disaster. The main goal was to build an unmanned flying vehicle that can stay aloft for hours, as opposed to the 30 minutes that most can fly. Students built a cylindrical vehicle with a rounded lip, inspired by a machine gunnery platform used in WWII. It’s controlled by four rudders, which are each independently controlled by a servo motor. By the way, the project’s name is a reference to a flying island described in Gulliver’s Travels. It also appears in the movie “Castle in the Sky” by Hayao Miyazaki.
Team: Raymond Silver, Chengta (Dale) Lei, Charles Knight, Brynn Hall
Sponsor Professor Xinyu Zhang, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, UC San Diego

Shellfish Biosensor

Shellfish like oysters close their shells when they’re stressed. In order to determine when and how stressed they are, students designed a biosensor system using a magnet to wirelessly monitor when shellfish’s shell is open, and for how long and how wide.

By laying existing data such as oxygen level and temperature on top of this data, researchers could find correlations between when the organisms are stressed and what environmental factors may be contributing to that.

A magnet is attached to one side of the shell with the sensor on the other. Voltage values will change as the shell opens and the magnet gets farther from the sensor, showing how wide the shell is open, and for how long.
Team: Adrian Urrea, Claudio Coleman, Emma Schoenthal, Hsing-Han Chung, Marika Hale
Sponsor: Dr. Sarah Giddings and Dr. Jeff Crooks

Pelvic Girdle


When a woman has cervical cancer, she may receive external radiation, as well as brachytherapy, or radiation from inside the pelvis, which is an effective way to apply targeted radiation.

To do this today, the patient sits or lies on a heavy wooden board equipped with an arm that has the radiation source on it, which is inserted into her vagina. She sits there for an average of three hours, but has to be careful not to move, or the radiation won’t be applied to the correct area. This is uncomfortable and can make the procedure less effective.

Students designed a pelvic girdle that attaches to the patient, so the arm with radiation is attached to them and moves with them. This makes it less uncomfortable and more precise, since the device will move with the patient.

The team of students was able to use their device in two patient trials, and received positive feedback. They plan to continue developing the device over the summer.

Team: Megan Elliott, Keenan Finney, Cameron Hutton, Shichen Li
Sponsors: Dr. Jyoti Mayadev and UC San Diego Moores Cancer Research Center


Anchor for Shoulder Instability


This team of students designed and built a new type of anchor for shoulder surgery that is made of rigid components but is flexible. The anchor would eventually be used in surgery to reattach cartilage to shoulder bones. The students used CAD and conducted fine element analysis on their designs. They iterated through various 3D printed prototypes before machining the final prototypes from titanium. Further steps are required before the anchors can be used in the clinic.
Team: Bryan Brenna, Delta Caraulia, Darren Deng, Helen Tat
Sponsors: Sameer Shah, associate professor, Departments of Orthopaedic Surgery and Bioengineering and Dr. Adam Hsieh, UC San Diego School of Medicine


Portable deformation testing using carbon nanotube fabrics
Students designed a portable device to test deformities in a variety of materials using carbon nanotube fabric. This thin fabric can be used to gauge the strain of a material using a process called electrical impedence tomography. This is done today on a desktop computer in a lab, and isn’t portable.

The mobile device designed by a team of undergraduate students enables this testing in a variety of situations—for example, deployed warfighters could use it to ensure their protective clothing is still effective and hasn’t been critically damaged during an event; structural engineers could embed the fabric in concrete or bridges, for example, and use the portable device to quickly monitor the amount of damage done after an earthquake; the device could detect if a prosthetic limb was implanted improperly or deformed and is applying too much pressure on the user at a certain point.
Team:Aaron Gunn, Jacob Rutheiser, Maxwell Sun
Sponsor: Ken Loh, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Structural Engineering at UC San Diego and director of the Active, Responsive, Multifunctional, and Ordered-materials Research (ARMOR) Laboratory

Boomerang Gyroscope Demonstration Device
How does a boomerang fly? The answer to this question is surprisingly complex and involves precession—the process which causes the boomerang to always come back—and nutation—the process that causes the boomerang to tilt from the vertical to the horizontal. This team of students built a gyroscope that models both precession and nutation of a boomerang in flight. The device will be used for outreach and education.  
Team: Chuanyue Xia, Akinari Ohashi, Steven Teixeira, Kangchun Wang
Sponsor: Prasad Gudem

Cough simulation apparatus
Mechcanical and aerospace engineering students were tasked with creating a breathalyzer that can detect pathogens Austin Swafford, Director of Research for the UC San Diego Center for Microbiome Innovation.
“After talking with Dr. Swafford, we realized that there are no controlled ways to test a breathalyzer for pathogens—we can’t just ingest them for testing purposes—so we shifted the focus of our project to a cough simulator,”said student Mandy Nichols.
The device the students built looks mostly like a garden hose. To test it, a mixture of sugar and water is loaded into one end and spewed out the other to simulate a cough.
“The ‘cough’ is sprayed at a glucose strip,” said Kang. “We can measure the size of the droplet under a microscope and the concentration on the glucose strip.”
The idea is to provide laboratory researchers with a safe and effective way to test pathogen breathalyzers.
Team:Donghyun Seo, Ziliang Zhang, Emilee Kang, Mandy Nichols, Gaoge Xu, Dingran Lu
Sponsor: Austin Swafford

Detachable Intubation Device

If a patient is under anesthesia and needs assistance breathing, a medical professional will place an endotracheal tube in their airway in order to connect them to a ventilator. The endotracheal tube itself gets placed over an insertion tube that contains a bronchoscope which lets the nurse or doctor see inside the airways to navigate the tube where it eneds to go. Once it’s in place, the endotracheal tube is slid down into place, and the insertion tube is removed.
However, in some cases the pateint’s trachea is too small, and the insertion tube and endotracheal tube both need to be removed to replace the existing tube with a smaller endotracheal tube. Students designed a detachable bronchoscope that would allow the insertion tube to remain inside the patient while it’s disconnected from the bronchoscope for a smaller endotracheal tube to be swapped in. This means the tube only has to be placed once, instead of potentially multiple times.
Team: Mark Olesco, Rogelio De Guzman, Fengyuan Hu, Matthew Kohanfars
Sponsor: Frank Talke and Jaspreet Somal

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

What happens when two roboticists, one engineer and one holographic doctor are together on a panel?

Actor Robert Picardo, who played The Doctor in Star Trek Voyager. 
We found out Saturday, when when three of our professors were on the same panel at the holographic doctor from Star Trek Voyager, aka actor Robert Picardo. They discussed the future of healthcare robotics and AI. It was all that of "The Future of Medicine," an event hosted by the Clarke Center for Human Imagination, June 2 here on campus. Below is a Twitter thread with some of the event's highlights.










From left: computer science professors Henrik Christensen and Laurel Riek.
Christensen is the director of the Contextual Robotics Institute at UC San Diego. 






Ramesh Rao, director of the Qualcomm Institute at UC San Diego, is also a professor
in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. 







A model of the original tricoder used in the Star Trek series.