This August the department of Bioengineering hosted its first ever Bioengineering Opportunities and Leadership Training (BOLT) for high school students. 25 students from around the metro area participated in the week’s activities, which ranged from building an optical heart rate monitor and learning about tissue engineering to visiting the Children’s Hospital Gait Lab and Center for Surgical Innovation. The objective of the camp was to expose students to the many different facets of bioengineering and to get them excited about what a career as a biomedical engineer could look like. At the conclusion of the week students presented their rough prototypes of new designs for medical devices that could help a pediatrician before enjoying an ice cream social with the students and faculty of the BIOE Department.
Pulmonary Hypertension is a progressive disease that ultimately leads to right heart failure. This K25 award looks at the mechanical and biochemical interaction between the right and left heart, during the progression of this cardio-pulmonary disease. Both sides of the heart are both moving “pumps” that are physically connected to one another. The study utilizes magnetic resonance imaging, computational modeling, and gene expression analysis of animal tissue to establish two key concepts: (1) declining right heart function during pulmonary hypertension can be improved by targeting the left heart; and (2) the left heart can be targeted through genes that control the contraction speed of the left heart muscle. If this approach proves to be successful, it could lead to novel therapies for treating right heart failure in children with pulmonary hypertension.
Kailey Beck, Matt Kiselevach, Vinh Pham and Mackenzie Wilderman traveled with Senior Design Instructor Casey Howard to Coulter College in Atlanta, Georgia at the beginning of August. Coulter College is a workshop (a crash-course of sorts) focused on teaching students how to develop commercially viable device solutions to unmet needs. This year students prepared a summer homework assignment and all the students were excited to work together in a team to represent CU Denver. When the workshop started however, everyone learned that teams would be scrambled and each Coulter College team would be made up of students from 4 different institutions from around the country and that each team would be advised by a faculty member from yet a different institution.
The CU Denver students all focused on developing solutions in the same ‘need area’ which was: helping alleviate issues with access to healthcare for individuals with disabilities in low resource settings. The student teams worked tirelessly for 3 days to develop and refine concepts and business models. The concepts evolved through conversations with experts, clinicians and industrial designers. The students also learned about topics such as Intellectual Property, medical device reimbursement, funding and business models, clinical trials, and regulatory pathways.
The teams gave a concept pitch on day 2 and a final 8 minute venture-style pitch on the concluding day of the conference. Prizes were awarded in each need area. All of the CU students and teams came up with interesting solutions tackling various issues including pressure sores and beyond. Mackenzie Wilderman and her team won both pitch contests in their ‘need area’.
This experience should provide a great foundation to help the students in their capstone design experience this academic year.
Cathy Bodine, assistant professor of bioengineering and director of Assistive Technology Partners, was featured in an article about “maker marathons,” where organizations are sparking innovation and finding solutions for creating assistive devices to help people with disabilities master everyday challenges.