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Students Train to Become Design Team Leaders

February 20, 2017

While many Johns Hopkins undergraduates spent January at home visiting friends and family, 13 biomedical engineering students spent their winter break taking the Design Team Clinical Immersion intersession course through the Center for Bioengineering Innovation and Design.

For two weeks, these students observed interventional radiology, endoscopy, and a variety of surgeries from hip replacements to craniotomies to learn the skills needed to become leaders for next year’s undergraduate design teams.

The students worked side-by-side at the Johns Hopkins Hospital and the Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center with top clinicians, learning how to identify clinical problems and design effective solutions.

They observed up to four procedures each day, taking detailed notes on processes, equipment, and issues. The student participants say that this up-close-and-personal vantage point gave them the ability to identify underlying issues that otherwise might go unnoticed.

“Surgeons may tell you a specific problem they have, but we may discover an underlying issue to resolve, which can end up solving the problem as well. They teach us to look for the actual need that’s present,” says junior Clark Fischer.

The students also were introduced to industry leaders at Clinvue who guided them on the process of identifying clinical issues. “They gave us a crash course on what to look for, how to look for it, and what questions to ask ourselves. For example, if we identified steps A through D, is there a way to avoid steps B and C, and go from A to D directly?” explains junior Dani Kiyasseh.

Students observed a variety of procedures, from a total knee replacement (called an arthroplasty) and a sleeve gastrectomy (removal of a portion of the stomach), to the repair of a constricted ureter, done via robotic surgery.

“These are the contexts in which our solutions will be functioning, so it’s good to see how others will actually be using our devices,” says sophomore Pooja Nair.

Next year, these students will select team members in a draft-style selection process, before choosing from a list of 60 projects and working with their team over three semesters to design a medical solution to the problems.

“Being a team leader is appealing because you get to work on something that you’re passionate about, and get others excited about it as well, which is what I’m looking forward to,” says Nair.