Sometimes, how senior design teams come together is just as important as the problems they identify and maybe even the solutions they craft to solve them.
In creating a smart prosthetic hand—combining electromyogram (EMG) powered prosthetics with machine learning—one team is seeking to incorporate advantages from powered and EMG prosthetics while adding more custom movements for end users. They also combined a pair of bioengineering majors; Omeed Hurtubise, and Tri Duong, with Jezreel Konstantinos, a mechanical engineering major and Thang Le, an electrical engineering major.
"I joined the team a little late, which was already a real-world learning experience in a way," Konstantinos said. "In other words, a project doesn't start when you join the project, but I was able to catch up and come into my own with the design piece of it."
Duong, the team's project manager, added that this project was inspired by another prosthetic device some team members had created as part of the Temple chapter of Biomedical Engineering Society during Engineers Week.
"The most important decision, I would say in my undergrad experience, was to get involved (in student organizations) and connect to other people and get to know my potential teammates," Duong said.
The primary focus of this project is to improve upon current market design capabilities while also cutting costs. That means encouraging a user to train on their own, with the prosthetic device's function to improve over time using the individual's specific EMG patterns.
The vast majority of the device's components are 3-D printed in the second floor IDEAS Hub, with an eye on mimicking a human hand as close as possible.
"Except for the hardware, everything is 3-D printed: tendons, bones, ligaments that match the connection points and even the hand, so it moves very closely to the regular function of the human hand," Konstantinos said.
A corollary lesson learned was in managing the project itself and communicating amongst teammates, as the team learned in conversations with faculty advisor, Dr. Michel Lemay. Prof. Lemay urged the team to be clear with directions and expectations of each other.
"That was my biggest takeaway, was working together as a team with different people. It was very beneficial," added Hurtubise. Or, put another way by Le:
"Communicating with your teammates and asking for help when you get stuck. That's when you try your best."