Biomedical engineering students developed strategies to fight the pandemic through virtual internship
“MSOE gave me the skills to adapt to an online project with people from across the country. Also, my problem-solving skills acquired through my time at MSOE really helped me overcome any challenge or barrier that I faced during the internship,” said Adam Graham, biomedical engineering junior, after participating in a virtual summer internship through the BME Alliance of Cleveland Clinic and Case Western Reserve University.
More than 500 students from across the nation, including four MSOE students, participated in the 10-week internship which included seminars focused on undergraduate student interests, fireside chats with biomedical engineering faculty, and concluded with a remote research/design project.
The students greatly valued the fireside chats with faculty members and learning about career opportunities, different specializations, past projects and more.
“My favorite part of the internship was hearing from some of the top researchers in the field. These field experts have devoted their lives and time to develop devices and solutions to things previously unimaginable,” said Noah Hutchinson, biomedical engineering junior. “The progression of the field and the truly amazing things these people are doing is one of the most exciting things to witness.”
Stephen Scripp, biomedical engineering sophomore, echoed Hutchinson’s sentiments and emphasized the value of learning from industry-experienced faculty.
“I have a clearer direction for my future after being exposed to so many different specialized fields and being able to ask credible sources for advice on how to achieve some of my goals,” said Scripp.
The internship commenced with a research/design project that challenged groups of students to develop, design and test a solution to address the need for enhanced use of personal protective equipment (PPE), particularly on college campuses, to mitigate the COVID-19 pandemic.
Scripp’s group decided to interview special education teachers to learn more about what their main concerns were regarding wearing masks in the classroom.
“From these interviews, we could see the importance of having the oral region visible for communication,” said Scripp. “Our solution was to design a mask with a clear region over the mouth so that facial expressions can be seen and lips can be read, allowing for better communication in the classroom.”
While Hutchinson’s group researched, they found many people voiced complaints about an inadequate seal the mask forms around the nose, causing glasses to fog. Their solution, “Fog-B-Gone,” is an inexpensive, moldable mask attachment that creates a better seal and prevents glasses fogging.
“Our product is basically a thermoplastic nose piece that attaches to the mask. The thermoplastic becomes moldable at a higher temperature and is then customizable to the individual’s face,” said Hutchinson.
Graham’s group brainstormed the many issues that an average person experiences while wearing a mask and set out to solve multiple problems with one solution by developing “The Kangaroo Mask,” a gaiter mask with a filter component to be protective and comfortable for any user.
“The Kangaroo Mask was designed to solve multiple mask issues, such as fogging up glasses, strap marks on the ears, and ease of taking on and off, as well as ease of storage for a college student,” said Graham.
Students collaborated with peers from across the country to develop their projects and a YouTube video to present their projects to the judges. Although the virtual format added challenges for students, it also presented immense value from both hands-on experiences and industry advice from faculty.
“This opportunity allowed me to collaborate with people from different universities across the United States to create a very real solution to a real issue,” said Hutchinson. “In addition, the amount of knowledge I gained from the speaker series was incredible. The overall immersion into the field of biomedical engineering was truly exciting and enlightening.”
If you’re interested in learning more, click on the links below to watch the students’ final project presentations: