A team of students from the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering is a finalist for the 2017 InVenture Prize at the Georgia Institute of Technology.
CauteryGuard, comprised of four BME majors, is among the six finalists that will compete for the $20,000 prize on March 15 at the Ferst Center in the InVenture Prize Final Round, which will be aired live by Georgia Public Broadcasting.
What originally started as a group project in a required BME course (Introduction to Biomedical Engineering Design, or BMED 2310) has evolved into a product designed to, “eliminate injuries associated with electrocautery devices while maintaining their usability and functionality,” explains Dev Mandavia, whose CauteryGuard teammates and fellow inventors are Jack Corelli, Hunter Hatcher, and Devin Li.
Electrocauterization is a common surgical procedure in which a doctor, veterinarian or other clinician uses electricity to heat tissue in order to prevent or stop bleeding after an injury or during surgery, prevent infection, or remove abnormal tissue growth.
“After heating up to 1200 degrees Celsius electrocautery devices can remain hot for a period of time and can result in self-inflicted injuries such as cautery burns, needle-stick injuries, and transmission of diseases,” says Mandavia, whose undergraduate research experience has included collaboration with Todd Sulchek's lab in the Petit Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience.
"So we designed a mechanism that prevents unintentional contact with the tip of the device from occurring," Mandavia says.
During their background research nearly 83 percent of the clinicians they interviewed had experienced some form of self-inflicted injury at least once in the past year.
“The number of injuries to users and patients skyrockets when you factor in the number of nurses, residents, medical school students, paramedics, and other medical staff that use electrocautery devices multiple times per day,” Mandavia says.
Furthermore, he adds, “if an injury occurs to the device user, protocol dictates that they leave the surgical area and check themselves into an ER, hoping that there are other medical staff on hand to take over for the remainder of the procedure, which is not always the case at public hospitals such as Grady Memorial, which may jeopardize the success of the surgery.”
The CauteryGaurd device automatically retracts when not in use, removing any chance of accidental injury.
The five other finalists for the Georgia Tech InVenture Prize are:
Capable Cane: A walking cane that unfolds into a portable, full-sized comfortable seat. The design offers the stability of four legs and provides an armrest and a backrest, making it safer than what is currently available. This is a team of one inventor: Jeffrey McMichael (mechanical engineering).
CPR+: A CPR mask that allows an untrained bystander to perform CPR by collecting vitals and dynamically walking the user through each step of the process. Inventors are Samuel Clarke (mechanical engineering/computer science), David Ehrlich (computer engineering), and Ryan Williams (computer engineering).
Gaitway: Transportable, collapsible parallel bars for physical therapists to use when working with children. Unlike other designs, Gaitway can be used by children as young as 15 months and as old as 10 and can support up to 150 pounds. The inventors are two industrial engineering majors, Nora Johnson and Veronica Young.
InternBlitz: Takes the digital college application system of the Common App and applies it to internships. With more than 600 internships to choose from, students can apply for 15 different internships in just five minutes. The inventors are Murtaza Bambot (industrial engineering) and Nathan Dass (computer science).
PickAR: It’s like Google Maps for warehouses. The team invented a headset, which uses augmented reality technology to overlay picking information and directions to packages so warehouses can find and process orders more efficiently. The inventors all computer science majors: Cheng Hann Gan, Sarthak Srinivas, Wenqi Xian.
With four BMEs, CauteryGuard is the largest of the six finalist teams. First place takes home $20,000. Second place earns $10,000. These teams will receive a free U.S. patent filing by Georgia Tech's Office of Technology Licensing (valued at approximately $20,000) and automatic acceptance into the Summer 2017 cohort of Flashpoint, a Georgia Tech business creation and innovation program. There is also a $5,000 People’s Choice winner (determined by fan voting during the live final round).
Additionally, the first place team will have the opportunity to represent Georgia Tech in front of a hometown crowd. This year’s Atlantic Coast Conference InVenture Prize competition will take place at Georgia Tech on March 31st.
But the student inventors of team CauteryGuard are looking beyond that date. Or, as Mandavia notes, “Winning the InVenture Prize would provide us with the capital and resources necessary to bring CauteryGuard into a $5.71 billion projected market.”