Monthly Archives: April 2019

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Students and professors at the University of Arizona have designed a device to measure the age of bruises. The idea for the technology came from Dr. Dale Woodridge while working on child abuse cases.

Woodridge contacted UA’s engineering department. A group of six engineering students collaborated to design a device and test it a few months later. Woodridge said the device could be used to determine when abuse has occurred. After more testing, he hopes to distribute the portable, non-invasive device to medical facilities.

Screen capture of a video of senior Samantha Davidson working in a laboratory

Bruises can happen anytime, but occasionally it’s from abuse. Researchers at the University of Arizona are working on a device that can help determine when a bruise happened to help authorities.

Samantha Davidson, a senior at the UA, is the team lead for the project. Five other women have been working on the project with her.

The device they are making is just a little bigger than a phone, and that’s the whole point.

The new app for UA Engineering Design Day 2019 has arrived, and it’s ready for download to your iOS or Android smartphone!

Learn about the interdisciplinary projects our teams have been working on all year, including water reclamation projects, an orbiting Earth camera, and even a steampunk cold brew coffee machine.

The app provides information about these and more than 100 other Design Day projects, as well as award descriptions, a full schedule and a map of where to find your favorite projects.

As always, you can also share activity with friends on social media channels such as Twitter and Instagram, directly from the app!

App Store

For iOS devices, like iPhone and iPad

Google Play

For Android devices, like Samsung Galaxy

Dan Klingberg

New Design Program staff member aims to enhance the student experience and involve sponsors early.

The 2018-2019 academic year has heralded several advances for the Engineering Design Program at the University of Arizona, including 10 new interdisciplinary project sponsors and stronger campus partnerships.

In October, the program also introduced Dan Klingberg as its newest team member. As manager of corporate relations, Klingberg cultivates relationships with sponsor companies, whether they’re longtime supporters or brand-new.

“Dan Klingberg’s wealth of knowledge and depth of experience is of huge benefit to the Engineering Design Program team,” said program director Ara Arabyan. “He plays an important role in strengthening and expanding the relationship between the program and our corporate partners.”

A Proud Wildcat Engineer

Klingberg worked for Raytheon for 29 years, so he brings an abundance of industry experience and contacts – including his wife, Cindy, a Raytheon program operations manager, UA alumna and recent Engineering Design Day judge.

He also offers a commitment to optimizing the student experience.

“I’m passionate about helping the students get good projects, because that’s what they remember,” said Klingberg, a 1993 UA electrical engineering alumnus. “When you graduate and you look back, you remember senior design.”

A stalwart UA Engineering supporter himself, Klingberg added this position to his roles as alumnus, active donor and faculty member – he’s been teaching a supply chain management class since January 2018. He likes that teaching lets him hear regular feedback from students about the capstone design program, so he can improve it accordingly.

An Easy Sell and an Unfair Advantage

To Klingberg, selling the idea of sponsoring a project to companies is easy. “They’re getting a team of engineers for nine months at a relatively low cost,” he said.

His focus for improving the program is on helping companies get involved earlier, perhaps by connecting them with first-year students and maintaining a relationship through internships, co-ops and senior capstone projects all the way through to graduation.

“I envision a program that would create a pipeline for senior design projects,” he said. “Every year, there could be a set of guaranteed projects from companies.”

By working more closely with sponsors, he also hopes to gain information to help students prepare for positions at specific companies.

“It might help the students to know a company like Amazon wants them to take certain electives,” Klingberg said. “They can get some guidance from a company about what courses to take. I want our students to have an unfair advantage going into industry.”

Project Title: Microfluidic System for Determination of Platelet Stiffness

Team 18071 Members:
Patarajarin Akarapipad, biomedical engineering
Courtney Comrie, biomedical engineering
Sean Copeland, biomedical engineering and mechanical engineering
Cody Thivener, biomedical engineering and electrical and computer engineering
Benjamin Weiss, biomedical engineering

Sponsor: UA Department of Biomedical Engineering

Courtney Comrie, Patarajarin Akarapipad, and Cody Thivener perform photolithography for their microfluidic chips.

Portable, Accessible Point-of-Care Device

Many medications and implantable medical devices come with side effects. Some affect the mechanical properties of platelets in the blood, leaving people susceptible to clots when their cells are stressed. Because blood clots can lead to heart attack and stroke, medical researchers sometimes need to determine the stiffness of cells such as platelets to minimize these risks.

They do this through dielectrophoresis, a process that deforms cells by subjecting them to electricity. Scientists then use imaging technology to see how much the cells deformed at specific voltages and to determine their thickness.

“The stiffness of the cell is a determinant of whether the platelet becomes activated and then leads to blood clots,” said Dr. Marvin Slepian, associate head for clinical and industrial affairs in the UA Department of Biomedical Engineering and sponsor of five 2018-19 Engineering Design Program projects. “Wouldn’t it be great if we had a point-of-care device that could measure the change in individual cell stiffness right as the patient goes through the experience?”

Zapping Platelets for Diagnostics and Research

Team 18071 is creating a compact cell deformation system that can subject platelets to dielectrophoresis to cause deformation, image the deformation and ultimately determine the thickness of the cells.

“It has a lot of potential in diagnostics, but a lot of potential is also in research,” said team lead Courtney Comrie. “If you’re researching a new medical device or a new medication, you can see how it affects platelets.”

Current dielectrophoresis machines take up entire sections of laboratories, but the team is scaling the device down and making it portable. At just over a foot tall and just under a foot wide, it’s designed to fit easily on a lab bench. The device will also display data on a regular smartphone screen.

“We’ll have an attachment that will hold the phone in place so it can look through the microscope at the right angle,” Comrie said. “We want to use the smartphone camera directly. It’s very accessible – everyone has one.”

Taking Their Research on the Road

Slepian suggested the team gain experience submitting and presenting their research. So, not only did they submit a summary and present at the UA College of Medicine’s 2019 Data Blitz in February, but they’re also in the process of applying to the ASAIO’s 65th annual conference as part of the organization’s young innovators initiative. With their initial proposal accepted, they’re working on a final report for the conference’s 7th annual student design competition.

“It’s been positive seeing our effort actually work and reaping the benefits,” Comrie said. “I think it’s been a good experience to put in these applications to these conferences. It’s validating the work we’re doing.”

Learn more about the project, and the team’s progress, at Engineering Design Day 2019 on April 29.

All-woman team of senior engineering students creates bruise age measurement device for use in child abuse and domestic violence cases.

“The forensic ability to accurately determine the age of a bruise has long evaded the medical community, which hasn’t been able to answer questions about how old bruises are with any degree of accuracy,” said Dr. Dale Woolridge, director of the Southern Arizona Children’s Advocacy Center and professor of emergency medicine, pediatrics, and chemistry and biochemistry at the University of Arizona.

A man and a woman adjusting a replica of a skeletal foot inside a machine.

Project Title: Robotic Gait Simulator

Team 18077 Members:
Miguel Angel Osorio, mechanical engineering
Michael Polenick, electrical and computer engineering
Olivia Talarico, biomedical engineering
Harrison Thurgood, mechanical engineering
Genevieve Wahlert, biomedical engineering

Sponsor: UA Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and UA Department of Biomedical Engineering

A man and a woman adjusting a replica of a skeletal foot inside a machine.

Dr. Daniel Latt and Olivia Talarico operate a robotic gait simulator.


Robotic Foot Walks Implant Design Toward Real-World Application

Surgical implants can vastly improve patients’ quality of life, allowing people with damaged joints to walk, for example. But before surgeons perform the procedures to place these implants in humans, they need to understand how the implants will operate in the context of a walking, working limb.

“It’s not just taking a cadaver limb and applying body weight load to it,” said Dr. Daniel Latt, an associate professor of orthopaedic surgery and biomedical engineering. “All the other tendons in the foot impact the force on the foot, so it’s important to create a realistic model of it.”

That’s exactly what he’s asked Team 18077 to do, in a continuation of the project he sponsored during the 2017-2018 school year. This year’s team created a more realistic model by including more tendons – adding three to the original design’s four – and incorporating a treadmill into the setup to create a more natural sense of movement. The actuators, or the parts of the device responsible for movement, can move more quickly and handle a heavier load. The final version of their project will involve an actual cadaver foot.

This is Latt’s fifth year sponsoring an Engineering Design Program project, and he enjoys reaping the benefits of an interdisciplinary team.

“We want to involve biomedical engineering students in the lab,” he said. “And usually I choose projects that have various components – a mechanical component, an electrical component, a systems component. It makes people reach outside their inherent discipline.”

Measuring Sole Signals

The students agree that this multidisciplinary project has been an excellent learning experience. Most have a biomedical or mechanical engineering background, and the project has a large electrical engineering element.

“If you think about it from a biological standpoint, what controls your limbs?” said Michael Polenick, the team’s only electrical and computer engineering major. “Electrical and mechanical signals.”

The team is focused on creating a device that imitates walking as accurately as possible. By carefully documenting their work, they hope to leave next year’s team with enough information to simulate running, hopping or squatting.

At Engineering Design Day on April 29, they plan to show a video of a model foot “walking” on a treadmill and wearing shoes equipped with insoles that measure force. A screen will display the data, including a red spike each time the heel strikes the ground.

“I chose this project because, well, who doesn’t want to make a robotic foot?” Polenick said.