Representing Lawrence Tech at the Coulter College competition in Florida were (L-R) LTU faculty advisor Mansoor Nasir, Danielle Manley, Akram AlSamarae, Kaitlyn Tingley, Mateusz Koper, Amanda Bukhtia, and Stephen Krammin. At right is faculty advisor Molly McClelland, an assistant professor at the University of Detroit Mercy.
A team of six biomedical engineering students from Lawrence Technological University finished third among 19 universities and also won the People’s Choice Award at the fifth Coulter College workshop for the development of biomedical devices.
Coulter College is a training program for the process of translating biomedical innovations into viable products. Collegiate design teams are guided by faculty and clinical experts through a highly dynamic process that helps them better understand how to identify innovations that can meet clinical needs and then gain financial support for the product development process.
The program was held Aug. 14-17 in Coral Gables, FL, by the Biomedical Engineering Society with support from the Wallace H. Coulter Foundation. Topics covered at the workshop included intellectual property protection, regulatory strategy, reimbursement codes, and working with technology transfer offices and funding sources.
“This workshop gives teams of students the opportunity to experience the entire process of finding an unmet clinical need to formulating a solution and then pitching it in front of venture capitalists,” said LTU Assistant Professor Mansoor Nasir, the team’s faculty advisor.
The Coulter College workshop was attended by a number of major American universities, including Syracuse, Columbia, Georgia Tech, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana , which took first place in the competition.
This was LTU students’ first year at the competition, but they had a head start thanks to LTU’s entrepreneurial engineering education made possible by grants from the Kern Family Foundation through the Kern Entrepreneurship Education Network. They were better prepared for brainstorming new ideas because problem-based learning and active and collaborative learning methodologies have been incorporated into many courses in the engineering curriculum, according to Nasir.
The teams were given advance assignments and were asked to identify three unmet medical needs. LTU’s team toured an acute care unit for the elderly at Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak and interviewed medical practitioners about what would make their work easier.
Subsequent market research revealed that the original idea the students were planning to present, a walking aid device for low light conditions, was not unique. So they modified their idea during the workshop to a device to provide walking assistance to patients with Parkinson’s disease.
“At a critical time in the competition the team decided to mold a different ‘needs statement’ while battling [against] time,” said team member Amanda Bukhtia. “We ultimately found a need that every group member was confident [in] and passionate about pursuing.”
The team is not publicizing the exact details because some members may pursue the idea as a senior project and may ultimately apply for a patent.
“I am proud of the students. Their idea was elegant and the presentation was clear, confident and articulate.” Nasir said. “Competition aside, I think the experience the students got through Coulter College will really help them during their senior projects and their professional careers.”
Nasir anticipates that LTU teams will participate in the Coulter College workshop in the coming years.