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Engineering Fundamentals

Biomedical Engineering Students Win at Stryker Engineering Challenge

BME StudentsA team of biomedical engineering students from Michigan Tech took first place in the Eighth Annual Stryker Engineering Challenge competition in Kalamazoo, March 22/23, 2018.

Each team member will receive a $1,000 scholarship and an interview for a Summer 2019 Internship with Stryker Corporation, a medical technology company. Each year Stryker invites engineering student teams to its global headquarters to show off their engineering prowess while competing against rival schools.

During overnight competition, teams spent 12 hours planning, designing, prototyping and testing to prepare for a robotics challenge created by Stryker engineers.

This year, six universities competed. In addition to Tech, teams came from Notre Dame, Western Michigan University, Michigan College Alliance, Purdue and Miami of Ohio.

Michigan Tech was the only biomedical engineering team in the competition. All other teams were comprised of mechanical and electrical engineering students. Undergraduates Becky Daniels, Melanie Thomas, Emil Johnson and Nicholas Turowski made up the Michigan Tech team.

 Joe Thompson, associate director, industry engagement in Michigan Tech’s Pavlis Honors College traveled with the students and served as mentor. Biomedical Engineering Associate Department Chair and Professor Keat Ghee Ong is the team’s advisor.

Biomedical Engineering Department Chair Sean Kirkpatrick said “Last year was BME’s first year in the Stryker competition and we took second place. This year’s first-place finish shows last year wasn’t a fluke—Michigan Tech BME students are very capable engineering students who can handily solve classical engineering problems.”

Thompson adds, “The event organizers at Stryker made a point of highlighting the professionalism displayed by Michigan Tech team. The ability to adapt to changing circumstances and collectively persevere contributed to the team’s success this year.”

Michigan Tech's robot at the 2018 Stryker Engineering Challenge
Michigan Tech’s robot at the Eighth Annual Stryker Engineering Challenge in Kalamazoo, Michigan

The first half of the competition involved picking up small Lego people with the robot and transporting them to the team’s ‘pit stop’. The team was able to deliver a ‘VIP passenger’ to gain extra points, but then their robot arm malfunctioned, sinking them from 1st place to 4th place as a result. The second half of the competition involved an actual race throughout the course. Michigan Tech’s robot had the fastest time.

“It was exciting to see how our ideas came to life, and how prototypes became the actual parts that contributed to our victory,” says Thomas. “It was a constant reminder of why we chose to pursue engineering.”

“The best feelings came whenever a team member was stuck with a particular problem and another team member’s suggestion turned out to be the working solution. During the competition we learned how to work with nearly complete strangers. We adapted once we figured out each other’s strengths,” says Johnson.

“Throughout the challenge we all provided whatever insight we could if we noticed someone struggling with a task, and it was always without judgement,” adds Daniels.

“Every employee at Stryker seemed to love their job,” notes Turowski. “One told about how during his first year at Stryker he was put on a team of ‘vets’ and asked to complete a task that had never before been done. I think that shows how much confidence Stryker has in its employees.”

“You don’t have to know the people you’re working with for a very long time in order to be an effective team. You just need to set your eyes on a collective goal and work to successfully complete it.

– Melanie Thomas

Stryker Corporation, active in more than 100 countries, is one of the world’s leading medical technology companies, offering products and services to help improve patient and hospital outcomes.

Michigan Tech BME students Emil Johnson, Nicholas Turowski, Melanie Thomas, and Becky Daniels along with mentor Joe Thompson at the 2018 Stryker Engineering Challenge, where they took first place.
Michigan Tech BME students Emil Johnson, Nicholas Turowski, Melanie Thomas, and Becky Daniels along with mentor Joe Thompson at the 8th Annual Stryker Engineering Challenge, where they took first place.

Judges Needed for Design Expo 2018

Judges and students mingle in front of posters.We invite you to register to be a judge at the 2018 Design Expo on Thursday, April 19. The Expo highlights hands-on projects from more than 600 students on Enterprise and Senior Design teams.

Although special expertise is appreciated, judges are not required to be technological specialists or engineers. If you like engaging with students and learning more about the exciting projects they are working on, please consider judging.

Who should judge?

  • Community members
  • Michigan Tech faculty and staff
  • Alumni interested in seeing what today’s students are accomplishing as undergrads
  • Those looking to network with Michigan Tech faculty and students
  • Industry representatives interested in sponsoring a future project

Design Expo is co-hosted by the College of Engineering and the Pavlis Honors College.

If you would like to serve as a judge at this year’s Design Expo, registeras soon as possible to let us know you’re coming. Thank you for your continued support.

By Pavlis Honors College.


Engineers Without Borders Band Benefit Sunday

Engineers Without Borders working on a ground pump with local people.Engineers Without Borders at Michigan Tech will host its annual Band Benefit from 4 to 7 p.m. Sunday (April 8, 2018) in MUB Ballroom A. The Band Benefit raises funds for the organization’s current rural water improvement projects in Guatemala and Panama.

The lineup features Ben and the Bamboozlers, Momentum and the Naddy Daddies with sound provided by WMTU. Enjoy live music, dancing and prize drawings. There will be appetizers and a cash bar.

By Engineers Without Borders.


SWE Students Travel to WE Local, Milwaukee

WE LocalMichigan Tech students Katie Buchalski (Environmental Engineering), Emily Crombez (Computer Science Graduate Student), Hannah Daavettila (Mechanical Engineering), Veronica Lynch (Civil Engineering), Jocelyne Denhof (Mechanical Engineering), and Erin Murdoch (Mechanical Engineering Technology), and faculty adviser, Gretchen Hein (Engineering Fundamentals) attended the Society of Women Engineers WE Local Conference in Milwaukee from Friday through Sunday, March 9 through 11, 2018.

They participated in the conference career fair, and attended professional development sessions and networking activities. Gretchen Hein and Rebecca Reck, Kettering University, as part of the SWE Women in Academia Committee, presented on the various career paths available in academia. The students and adviser were especially moved to hear about the challenges and accomplishments of Sonia Sanchez, professor of Physiology and Biomedical Sciences and assistant dean of Research at the Creighton University School of Dentistry. She spoke about her life journey from a small town in Brazil to her career in Nebraska. The group left her talk inspired and ready to work towards their goals regardless of obstacles.

The group thanks the College of Engineering for their support, and their departments for allowing them to leave early for Spring Break to participate in the SWE WE Local Conference.


Invent It Build It: Six Questions with Hannah Cunningham

Hannah Cunningham '18 BME, pictured here in the colored-glass walkway at the Aros Art Museum in Denmark. Credit: Taran Schatz
Hannah Cunningham ’18 BME, pictured here in the colored-glass walkway at the Aros Art Museum in Denmark. Credit: Taran Schatz

Hannah Cunningham, a senior majoring in biomedical engineering at Michigan Tech, has been working with kids since she was in high school. Volunteering several times at the Society of Women Engineers’ annual Invent it Build It event for middle school girls was a natural thing for her to do. She took part while attending SWE conferences in Nashville, Philadelphia, and most recently at the National SWE WE17 Conference in Austin, Texas.

Q: What’s it like to volunteer for Invent It Build It?
A: I’ve had a few different roles. I’ve worked directly with the girls as a table leader, I’ve staged materials during the event, and been a “floater” who simply fills in where help is needed with things like registration, grabbing forgotten supplies from the hotel, or pouring oil into cups.

I had the greatest interaction with the girls as a table leader. My primary job was to direct my table of four or five girls through the two activities during the day, while making sure they were thinking critically about the engineering challenge and developing their engineering skills. Luckily, they were middle schoolers, so it was easy to talk with them and learn more about them.

Q: Do you see yourself in any of the participants?
A: The girls who attend are local to the city where the conference is being held. For the most part they’re very similar. They don’t really have any idea what they want to do, but engineering could be their future. At the event they work together on engineering challenges with varying levels of teamwork, but all are capable of providing something to the challenge.

At that age it can be difficult to see your own contribution. It’s even more difficult to respect your own work without comparing it to everyone else’s. This event gives them a chance to build one thing as a team, with each participating in some way.

I try not to remember myself as a middle schooler, but some of the girls definitely remind me of myself. When faced with the project/challenge, they work at it, and work hard, until they’ve come to final product.

Hannah Cunningham '18 BMEQ: Are you involved in any other engineering outreach?
A: While at Michigan Tech I have taught various courses for first and second graders through the Center for Science and Environmental Outreach led by Joan Chadde-Schumaker. When I teach these classes, even if the topic is not related to engineering, such as wildlife exploration, I always make sure to develop a project to include engineering. I believe engineering projects challenge kids’ creativity, teamwork skills and technical skills. Engineering projects are fantastic for any classroom setting and the supplies can be simple, recyclable materials.

Q: What would you like to do when you graduate?
A: I am due to graduate with a BS in biomedical engineering this Spring (!). I plan to pursue an accelerated master’s degree in Kinesiology next year. I wan to finish my research and learn more about biomechanics. I’d like to become involved in a company or university that will allow me to develop and/or research products that can be beneficial for human health. I’m interested in biomechanics, so anything dealing with treating, modifying, or enhancing human movement is fair game.
Q: How has being involved with SWE impacted your life so far?
A: I’ve learned about the many different roles women can have in engineering. SWE has helped me develop my skills as a professional, by offering networking events with professionals and businesses. My own educational path has slowly directed me away from engineering, but I still feel strongly that I can still be involved even if my job title isn’t “engineer”.

National Engineers Week 2018

2018 Eweek Poster FrontPlease join us in celebrating National Engineers Week at Michigan Tech. All are welcome!

National Engineers Week is celebrated at Michigan Tech this week with a variety of events on campus. It began yesterday and runs through Saturday (Feb. 24).

Events at Michigan Tech during Engineers Week, also known as Eweek, are sponsored by Tau Beta Pi, the local chapter of the Engineering Honor Society, and the College of Engineering. .

Founded by the National Society of Professional Engineers in 1951, EWeek is dedicated to ensuring a diverse and well-educated future engineering workforce by increasing understanding of and interest in engineering and technology careers.

The week’s first event will be held this afternoon. How to Make a DIY Composter will be held from 3 to 4 p.m. today (Feb. 19) at Dillman 320. The Green Campus Enterprise will help you learn about composting and show you how you can start doing it yourself.

Additional Eweek events at Tech include:

  • Engineers Week Cake: Enjoy a free piece of cake with the Department of Engineering Fundamentals. Cake will be served from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. tomorrow (Feb. 20), at Dillman 112.
  • Engineering Though the Ages Presentation. Learn about the marvels of the past with Chelsey Rock. 6:30 – 7:30 p.m. Thursday (Feb. 22) in Fisher 138.
  • Build a Heart Rate Circuit Board. Build your own circuit board with Blue Marble Security Enterprise. 4 – 6 p.m. Friday (Feb. 23) in EERC 622.
  • Free showing of “The Martian.” Enjoy a free showing of “The Martian” on behalf of the College of Engineering and Film Board. The film will be shown at noon Saturday (Feb. 24) in Fisher 135.

National Engineers Week celebrates the positive contributions engineers make to society and is a catalyst for outreach across the country to kids and adults alike. For the past 60 years, National Engineers Week has been celebrated each February around the time of George Washington’s birthday, February 22, because Washington is considered by many to be the first US engineer.


Free Webinar for Engineering Department Chairs, Faculty, and Change Leaders

Diverse group of people

The Women in Engineering ProActive Network (WEPAN), American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), and Purdue University College of Engineering are offering an evidence-based approach for fostering a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive (DEI) engineering culture via a series of webinars. The first webinar is 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 22.

In this interactive webinar you will learn:

  • Why to engage in DEI-focused change
  • How to lead DEI-focused culture change using the new, evidenced-based TECAID (Transforming Engineering Culture to Advance Inclusion & Diversity) Model
  • Who are other engineering department teams that have applied the TECAID Model
  • What additional resources are available to help engineers lead department culture change

Want to get MORE out of this webinar? Invite colleagues to participate with you by setting up a conference room and setting aside time after the webinar to continue the conversation about ways you can adapt the ideas presented in your own department. Watch this 3-minute 2017 NSF Showcase award winning TECAID Project Overview video.

The Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics was one of five universities that participated in developing the TECAID model. (See this Tech Today article for more details.)

Department Chair William Predebon is one of the presenters in this webinar. Register at this link.

TECAID Transforming Engineering Culture To Advance Inclusion And Diversity

ME Department Teams are OSU, Purdue University, Texas Tech, Michigan Tech, and the University of Oklahoma


Demand dispatch—Balancing power in the grid in a nontraditional way

According to the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL), distributed energy resources like these photovoltaic (PV) systems in a Boulder neighborhood—especially when they are paired with on-site storage—may eventually make large centralized power plants obsolete. Photo Credit: Topher Donahue
According to the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL), distributed energy resources like these photovoltaic (PV) systems in a Boulder neighborhood—especially when they are paired with on-site storage—may eventually make large centralized power plants obsolete. Photo Credit: Topher Donahue

Traditionally, in the electric power grid, generation follows electric power consumption, or demand. Instantaneous fluctuation in demand is primarily matched by controlling the power output of large generators.

Sumit Paudyal, Electrical & Computer Engineering
Sumit Paudyal, Electrical & Computer Engineering

As renewable energy sources including solar and wind power become more predominant, generation patterns have become more random. Finding the instantaneous power balance in the grid is imperative. Demand dispatch—the precise, direct control of customer loads—makes it possible.

Michigan Tech researcher Sumit Paudyal and his team are developing efficient real-time control algorithms to aggregate distributed energy resources, and coordinate them with the control of the underlying power grid infrastructure.

“Sensors, smart meters, smart appliances, home energy management systems, and other smart grid technologies facilitate the realization of the demand dispatch concept,” Paudyal explains.

“The use of demand dispatch has promising potential in the US, where it is estimated that one-fourth of the total demand for electricity could be dispatchable using smart grid technologies.”

Sumit Paudyal

Coordination and control in real time is crucial for the successful implementation of demand dispatch on a large scale. “Our goal is to enable control dispatch distributed resources for the very same grid-level applications—frequency control, regulation, and load following—traditionally provided by expensive generators,” adds Paudyal.
“We have solved the demand dispatch problem of thermostatically-controlled loads in buildings and electric vehicle loads connected to moderate-size power distribution grids. The inherent challenge of the demand dispatch process is the computational complexity arising from the real-time control and coordination of hundreds to millions of customer loads in the system,” he adds. “We are now taking a distributed control approach to achieve computational efficiency in practical-sized, large-scale power grids.”

Michigan Tech Society of Women Engineers Students Attend WE17 Conference

WE17

Fourteen members and an adviser of the Michigan Tech Society of Women Engineers (SWE) Section attended the annual National SWE WE17 Conference from October 25-29, 2017, in Austin, Texas.

Participants attended sessions on a variety of topics, networked with company representatives at the Career Fair with over 300 STEM based companies and celebrated women in Engineering. Michigan Tech members volunteered at Invent It! Build It! (an outreach activity for middle and high school girls).

Gretchen Hein, SWE Section adviser and faculty in Engineering Fundamentals, presented on two topics: the results of a survey of SWE Women in Academia members and whether or not there are gender differences in student performance first-year engineering courses.

Whether it was learning about making SWE more inclusive to women of color or learning to be a grateful leader in the workforce, the conference provided members with a variety of opportunities. They eagerly anticipate another opportunity to grow, network and celebrate women in STEM at SWE WE18 Conference next fall in Minneapolis.


Vital signs—Powering heart monitors with motion artifacts

Electrocardiogram research Ye Sarah Sun

More than 90 percent of US medical expenditures are spent on caring for patients who cope with chronic diseases. Some patients with congestive heart failure, for example, wear heart monitors 24/7 amid their daily activities.

Ye Sarah Sun
Ye Sarah Sun, Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics

Michigan Tech researcher Ye Sarah Sun develops new human interfaces for heart monitoring. “There’s been a real trade-off between comfort and signal accuracy, which can interfere with patient care and outcomes,” she says. Sun’s goal is to provide a reliable, personalized heart monitoring system that won’t disturb a patient’s life. “Patients need seamless monitoring while at home, and also while driving or at work,” she says.

Sun has designed a wearable, self-powered electrocardiogram (ECG) heart monitor. “ECG, a physiological signal, is the gold standard for diagnosis and treatment of heart disease, but it is a weak signal,” Sun explains. “When monitoring a weak signal, motion artifacts arise. Mitigating those artifacts is the greatest challenge.”

Sun and her research team have discovered and tapped into the mechanism underlying the phenomenon of motion artifacts. “We not only reduce the in uence of motion artifacts but also use it as a power resource,” she says.

Their new energy harvesting mechanism provides relatively high power density compared with traditional thermal and piezoelectric mechanisms. Sun and her team have greatly reduced the size and weight of an ECG monitoring device compared to a traditional battery-based solution. “The entire system is very small,” she says, about the size of a pack of gum.

“We not only reduce the influence of motion artifacts but also use it as a power resource.”

Ye Sarah Sun

Unlike conventional clinical heart monitoring systems, Sun’s monitoring platform is able to acquire electrophysiological signals despite a gap of hair, cloth, or air between the skin and the electrodes. With no direct contact to the skin, users can avoid potential skin irritation and allergic contact dermatitis, too—something that could make long-term monitoring a lot more comfortable.

Ye Sarah Sun self-powered ECG heart monitor
Sun’s self-powered ECG heart monitor works despite a gap of hair, cloth or air between the user’s skin and the electrodes.