students in lab
Members of Team A03 work in the IDEAS Hub recently.

Autumn is the season of the nagging cough. That stubborn tickle in the back of your throat that is often the sign of an incoming cold or flu. Then why on Earth would anyone want to create a cough simulator? 

One senior design team hopes to create one such device to help reproduce the human cough, focusing on pathogen transmission from patients to healthcare workers through droplet exposure—an issue that has become acutely more important in the age of COVID-19. 

"We hope to improve the efficacy of personal protective equipment (PPE) and provide a system that can be useful for many research applications, including clinical studies, to improve the safety of operating rooms," added Tish Minford, a bioengineering student and member of Team A03. 

Senior design is the undergraduate capstone program. The three-semester sequence challenges often-interdisciplinary teams to identify an engineering problem, or to work with an outside sponsor, on a project to find a solution. 

"This whole process has been a trial-and-error type of experimentation and helped us to learn how to persevere even after failure," Tish added. "Whether it be missing a little connector piece to connect the nebulizer to the particle reservoir, or a broken pressure gauge, we have had to work quickly on our feet to achieve our collective goal." 

Tish is joined by Zaid Hawatmeh, Abdul Thiab and Noah Miller. The team is advised by bioengineering professor Erkan Tüzel, and the project is an extension of a research project done last year with research assistant Josh Hansen in collaboration with Dr. Mark Krakauer from the Lewis Katz School of Medicine. 

"This project has been relatively motivating to know that the concept of the cough simulator device is something that has not been really done before and could actually make a difference for things like COVID research," Noah said, adding that there were "definitely" takeaways for his coming professional career. 

Meet the full team below and see the entire slate of Fall 2021 senior design teams on December 3rd. Visit for more. 

Meet the team

Abdul Thiab

Major: Electrical Engineering

Originally from: Kuwait

Why this major? "I always believed that electrical engineering has a bright future. I like programming, and I always would love to create any electric device using programming like a robot, app, website, or games."

Post-Temple plans: "I'm going back to my country and applying for a job. In my country, we are building a new international airport that will be highly run by solar energy, which will require electrical engineers."

Noah Miller 

Major: Bioengineering

Originally from: Chichester, Pennsylvania

Why this major? "I was always someone who was extremely interested in math as well as science. It seemed like a good idea to pursue something where I can be a lifelong learner as well as have the opportunity to problem solve or design something myself."

Post-Temple plans: "I took the pre-med track in engineering because I thought I wanted to pursue medical school to be an anesthesiologist, but I have changed perspectives and now want to go into the engineering industry to work in medical devices or any type of design in general."

Tish Minford

Major: Bioengineering

Originally from: Delaware County, Pennsylvania 

Why this major? "I have always loved science and math, and I thought engineering would be a perfect combination of the two. I like the problem-solving aspect of engineering, and with bioengineering I can apply these principles to solve medical problems."

Post-Temple plans: "I would love to work for a medical device company that focuses on improving the quality of life for those with disabilities. I believe that finding solutions for unmet clinical needs would be a very rewarding career."

Zaid Hawatmeh 

Major: Mechanical Engineering 

Originally from: Chester County via Jordan

Why this major? "I always liked math and physics. Also, I love the automotive field and I hope to work in automotive companies like GM in the future."

Post-Temple plans: "I will be working in the power field. This summer I had an internship in the power field as a Transmission and Distribution Intern at Westwood Professional Services, which taught me lots of great engineering skills."