December 13, 2016


"Cool It" Wins Senior Design Contest

Mechanical Engineering seniors Daniel Meckes and Keith Wilkins took top honors in the College of Engineering's Senior Design contest on Saturday. The two created Cool It TempStent, an engineered system to cause therapeutic hypothermia in the pancreas. Similar to processes used on the heart and brain, this lowers the damage created by pancreatitis by slowing the disease's spread. Watch video>

The two tested their work with doctors at Brigham Hospital in Boston and previously earned a design excellence award from the Institutes of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering. Meckes and Wilkins project is detailed below. The pair will split $1,500 for their victory.

The runners up included Tomato Cam to detect spoilage in produce, Spinal fixation for Extracellular Recording in Felines and Energy Harvesting Walkways, also detailed below.

Senior Design

The culmination of rigorous studies in engineering shines in Senior Design projects being presented this week. Every major is represented in teams that work two semesters to create inspired innovation and something tangible and novel to better the world around them. From medical breakthroughs to solutions for everyday life, these projects from our fall graduates are a sampling of the fruits of their labor.

Prosthetic Hand

Bioengineering senior Oreoluwa Alonge and his team have been developing a lighter, more cost-effective version of a prosthetic hand. Joined by, Bria Coaxum, Kayleigh Ross, and Cassandre Beauzil, they're using a spring made of nitinol and 3-D printed parts for their model. Alonge likes the opportunities provided by Senior Design.

"It's hard to do a lot of practical work in different classes," he said. "When it came to this possible hand, we took some of our knowledge from biomaterials, which everyone in the group took. We had to make a heat-resistant prosthetic and we took some ideas from biomaterials to work along with a wire for the best possible result."

The idea came from their client," a Temple architecture student, instead of coming up with their own project or working with a professor. "In Senior Design they're trying to make it look as much of a workforce scenario as possible. We act as the company and he's coming to us with the idea. He brought us this elaborate design for the prosthetic hand and he asked us to make this work, as engineers." For a more detailed description of this project, read this full story>


Some projects take existing procedures and try to expand them to fit other needs. Mechanical Engineering seniors Daniel Meckens and Keith Wilkins are attempting to bring therapeutic hypothermia, used for heart and brain patients, to help stem the damage of pancreatitis.

"It's just like cooling your hand after you get a burn," said Meckens, who has seen the process used while working at Jefferson Hospital. "It slows down cellular metabolism and blunts the process of cellular death. It slows down the metabolism of these destructive cellular communicators that, at least in the disease, infiltrates other healthy organs and causes exasperated, multi-organ failure."

The mechanical engineering focuses around heat transfers. "We're looking into what we have to put into the pancreas to get it under a certain temperature in a certain amount of time, to reach our target temperature at a target time" said Wilkins. "We start out with theoretical calculations of heat mass transfer. Now we're working on more complex simulations on the computer. We're trying to model how much blood goes in the pancreas and how much heat that's going to bring in with it, to know how much more we have to try to take out." The pair won a design excellence award from the National Institues of Biomedial Imaging and Bioengineering and have worked with local medical companies on this process and tested their model with physicians from Brigham Hospital in Boston.

IP v6 Mesh Network

Every group for Senior Design tackles a different problem. One group of electrical engineers might have a cure for one of the biggest complaints for those using wireless internet in large spaces. Vincent Wijaya, Nhim Roeung, and James Novino are working on a way to expand network capacity, as more devices like household appliances siphon resources. Using traditional routers also allows these devices to serve as portals for hackers to attack websites like Twitter. The group has devised a way to expand availability while securing next-generation smart devices with a mesh node.

"Instead of having a single router and a bunch of devices connected to that one router, basically every device can be a router, said Novino "Instead of buying one big, clunky router that you sit wherever your modem is, you have these small devices, three in the Google Wifi pack. What that does is one of them connects to the Ethernet plug with your modem, where it's connecting to the World Wide Web. The others are placed around your house and connect together, like a chain, until they reach the internet. The benefits are you get better Internet connectivity across your house, and losing a device in the mesh network doesn't mean the whole internet goes down."

Creating new technology has drawn some significant attention. The group is working with Comcast on turning this into a commercial product. They hope to turn this chain into something viable for stationary devices that don't require real-time connectivity or a lot of energy. "Low-power devices that might go in like an agriculture environment, a bunch of devices in a field, or maybe you're doing a smart cities initiative where you have these devices that are spread across the city doing traffic management, that don't need to be constantly using data," said Novino. "They collect a bunch of data, store it for a certain amount of time, and then every so often will turn on and send their data out across this bridge. With these low powered devices, for instance, our devices, we can get a full year out of two AAA batteries."

Solar Energy Harvesting Pavements

Civil engineers Erik Belous, Ali Dahbali, Alexey finashin, and Igor Shum have figured out a way to use sidewalks to harvest solar energy. Current prototypes are cost-prohibitive so this group has embedded the panels into concrete mixed with strengthening fibers. They first examined the existing products to find ways they can be improved. "Analyzing the results, analyzing their costs, we realized the prototype they made and implemented, the system they implemented is very expensive and not cost-effecitve," said Belous. "We wanted to take that design and be able to incorporate it into walkways."

"You have a concrete base and in the concrete base there's a cutout where you can put in all the electronics, the solar panels, the microprocessors, the controllers," said Belous. "We need to make a concrete that's more resistant to tension loads. With concrete, there's a large initial cost that goes into creating sidewalks, but there's no return on it. We want to take that amount of area that's taken up by sidewalks now and provide a return on energy, creating energy and making money. The technology should pay for itself in its life cycle."

Groups will present their final products next week, concluded by poster presentations on December 10th.