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A skull model with a band wrapped around the head, demonstrating use of medical device

Bringing the Real World into the Classroom

The senior design experience is an extremely important part of the biomedical engineering curriculum at Texas A&M University. The department’s undergraduate students work with sponsors as part of a project aimed at designing and fabricating a medical device or system.

The projects, which can result in new designs, improvements to existing designs or new process design, are sponsored by clients such as medical device companies, medical research centers, clinicians and global organizations dedicated to improving access to health care technology.

Over the course of two semesters, a student team of senior biomedical engineering majors initiates and completes its project, designing a medical device or system based on its sponsor’s specifications while adhering to design control criteria and FDA requirements. Most often the experience requires students to manage their projects under the guidance of a sponsor liaison mentor and a faculty mentor, conduct design reviews, fabricate and test their designs, and formally present their work to both the course faculty and sponsoring liaison.

All documentation and prototypes developed by the student teams can be provided to the sponsor, and any resulting intellectual property may be assigned to the sponsor under the intellectual property policies of the Texas A&M University System. If required by an external sponsor, students may sign non-disclosure agreements.

Ideas that Turn into Real-world Solutions

When talented students apply their creativity and knowledge to real-world health issues, innovative solutions take form.

For example, a senior design team recently developed a device that assesses the health of an individual’s lung by measuring the force of a single expiration. The team, which was sponsored by Dr. Mehdi Razavi of the Texas Heart Institute, developed a prototype that quantitatively analyzes the force of air flow and also completed a conceptual design for processing signals to inform individuals of their lung status.

The device is intended to assist individuals with impaired lung function in detecting the onset of dangerous conditions and has a wide range of other applications, including athletic and military performance training and gaming or other interfaces for mobile devices. What’s more, the team’s work was used as the basis for a joint provisional patent application and the formation of a company co-owned by the design team and its sponsors.