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Capstone Teams Share Their Work at Georgia CTSA Regional Conference
It's the first time BME Capstone teams have presented their solutions at a conference as part of the poster sessions or podium talks.
March 19, 2021

The Southeast Regional Clinical and Translational Science Conference typically features researchers and clinicians sharing important work and discussing the latest advances. This year, it also included seven teams of biomedical engineering students presenting the innovations they developed for their Capstone Design projects.

It’s a milestone achievement for the students and the Capstone program in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering: this is the first time Capstone teams have presented at a conference as part of the poster sessions or podium talks.

These weren’t student design competition presentations; the students shared their advances as part of the professional program alongside other researchers.

“This is a wonderful opportunity that allowed our students to showcase their innovative work to a broader audience,” said James Rains, who leads the Coulter BME Capstone program and is a professor of the practice. “This audience was composed of clinicians and researchers, who are passionate about clinical and translational science. Our students appreciated the ability to tell their story to a group of individuals who can provide relevant feedback and insights.”

One of the breakout sessions featured a presentation from a team that created a prototype plasma viscometer to rapidly test the viscosity of blood plasma in Covid-19 patients. Current devices are expensive or require too much time to process samples. Their solution uses light to measure fluid flow, which is proportional to viscosity.

“It was a really rewarding experience, because I was able to present and get feedback from top scientists and researchers within the BME and clinical science field,” said Lichao Tang, one of the three team members who presented the device. All graduated with their bachelor’s degrees in the fall. “It was also valuable to learn about the research on Covid-19 and infectious disease from the other presenters during my session.”

Another team presented their device to measure blast exposure of mortarmen in the U.S. Army — work that won them the first-place award among nearly 70 posters in the translational research session.

Other poster presentations included devices to improve early detection of preeclampsia in rural Ethiopia; better model blood vessels and simulate their behavior in specific patients; regulate infants’ body temperature and prevent hypothermia in Ethiopia; simulate brain mapping to help train neurosurgeons; and improve treatment for cardiac arrest patients by improving blood flow to the brain.

It’s a wide range of applications that represents just a slice of the projects that students tackle each semester. Rains said he hopes the invitation to show off the students’ work at the conference will spark new opportunities for future teams.

“This allows us to create new connections who will potentially participate in the near future in our Capstone program. These posters and talks demonstrate the potential of partnering with a team of Georgia Tech engineers to jointly develop a solution to a challenge that professionals have identified or encountered,” Rains said.

Rains said the Capstone teams applied to participate in the conference with the encouragement of Andrés García, executive director of Georgia Tech’s Petit Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience and one of the lead planners of the conference. The conference was organized by the Georgia Clinical and Translational Science Alliance (Georgia CTSA), a longtime sponsor of Coulter BME Capstone.

“It is wonderful that Georgia CTSA helps support our students’ education and offers avenues like this for our students to engage in scholarly endeavors beyond the classroom,” Rains said.