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Submit Your Design Challenge

Over the past nine years, Design Team students have completed over 250 design projects that provided solutions to clinical challenges. This teamwork has been the basis for many patents, licensing agreements, and start-up companies. Teams have access to the BME Department’s state-of-the-art Design Studios on both campuses, and resources to build and test early-stage ideas. If you are interested in harnessing the collective skill, energy, and talent of our Design Teams, submit your design challenge for our next round of projects. If selected, a team of 5-8 undergraduate biomedical engineering students plus faculty will work with you and a group of medtech design and commercialization experts over the course of a year to develop solutions to your design challenge!

A collage of photos shows the design student experience.

If your project is selected, you will have: 

  • The option to become a project sponsor and/or join a project advisory committee

  • Access to technology assessments and business plans written by the student Design Team

  • Eligibility for funds from the CBID Technology Accelerator Fund

  • Modest departmental funding for prototyping

  • Access to innovation, design, and business networking events

Successful projects typically: 

  • Involve accessible sponsors that can devote an average of one hour per week to working with the student team

  • Benefit from resources like experimental equipment, IRB support, and animal models

  • Give student teams access to clinical staff, colleagues, residents, and nurses

  • Fit within an appropriate scope for one year of undergraduate work

  • Involve a technical solution and a design component

  • Treat Design Team students as collaborative partners with some degree of independence

Design Challenge Submission Process

Step 1: Remember Important Deadlines

Important deadlines include:

  • February — Design challenges due from prospective mentors
  • April — Deep discussion on selected design challenges
  • May — Selections announced
  • Next 12 months — Design Team works with you to address your design challenge

* Projects are accepted all year for other design teams in the department as well. If the given timeline does not align with your schedule, you may still submit a challenge through this process.

Step 2: Review course information for prospective sponsors

A successful Design Team is made up of students, the project sponsor, and the associated Design Team faculty. In order to ensure that design projects can provide a fruitful experience for everyone involved, it is imperative that the structure of the course and the responsibilities associated with each role are understood. Mentors are asked to review the following documents: 


Overview for Clinical Mentors

Overview for Industry and Other Mentors

Step 3: Review guidelines on the submission process

The design challenge submission should focus on the main problem that needs to be solved, as opposed to providing a solution. Additionally, it should outline the relevant background information needed to contextualize the problem. Providing key failure points in the current clinical pathway will facilitate an understanding of the problem. Keep in mind that student teams will be using this submission as a reference while selecting a project.

Design Challenge Example:

Emergency Cricothyrotomy*

10-15% of preventable deaths in the U.S. army occur due to airway obstruction from maxillofacial trauma. The key lifesaving procedure in these severe trauma cases is a cricothyrotomy, where an emergency surgical airway (ESA) is opened in the cricothyroid membrane (CTM) of the neck. 68W combat medics are trained on cricothyrotomy, but previous data has shown a failure rate of 33%. The key failure points are:

  • Lack of anatomical knowledge and recent training; failure to locate CTM

  • Failure to “cut to air”; cannulation of the subcutaneous space instead of trachea

  • Delay or avoidance of the procedure due to its perceived undesirability or lack of confidence

  • Inability of a 68W to reach the patient

Additionally, only 1 in 40 soldiers is a 68W, and some units may enter combat without a 68W. These problems could be solved if a simplified, intuitive, dependable cricothyrotomy device was available to more personnel.

*Courtesy of Dr. James Gilman, Antonio Spina, Michael Good, Qiuyin Ren, Ryan Walter, and Travis Wallace

Step 4: Submit

Submit a completed design project form.

Submit a Design Project Form

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