Gateway Community College graduates Fred Rosen and Scott Sivek saw an ad for an international contest with a challenge: design low-cost, portable clinical equipment that could be used in medical settings in Third World countries. They didn’t end up entering the contest but the challenge inspired them. How could they create a piece of medical equipment that could serve some of the world’s poorest people, people who might not have access to the latest medical equipment?
Rosen and Sivek got to work and designed and constructed a three-color LED spectrophotometer for their capstone project for Biomedical Engineering Technology program. They ended up winning the top senior design project presentation at GCC’s 2012 Biomedical Symposium and they were also recognized for their work at the annual meeting of the New England Society of Clinical Engineers (NESCE) this summer at the Marco Polo restaurant in East Hartford.
“It’s very exciting to be able to take something that exists and have students create their own version, one that could help people because it is so portable,” said Thomas McGrath, professor and Program Coordinator of Biomedical Engineering Technology. “It was a very impressive project.”
The three-color LED spectrophotometer is used in the medical field to analyze chemical samples for their content and concentration. Typically, McGrath said, the devices require high quality light sources, mirrors and refractors and a power supply. The two GCC students devised one that can operate on a 9- volt battery, an automobile battery or a solar-powered source. McGrath said both Rosen and Sivek graduated this past spring and are now working in the medical field. McGrath said other projects GCC students presented at the symposium included an electric stethoscope and a transcutaneous electroneural stimulator (TENS). The students also create a user manual and a repair manual and their final presentation has to include an audiovisual component and a display.
The Biomedical Engineering Technology major at GCC is the only one of its kind in New England, McGrath said, and students who graduate are poised to enter a job market where their skills are greatly needed and they are highly marketable. In their senior year, students work on the capstone project and they also do their practicum in a hospital setting. McGrath said choosing to be a biomedical engineering student is “a mature decision” because students have to be interested in electronics and work in a medical setting.
Every hospital, HMO and doctor’s office has medical equipment which needs to be calibrated and repaired and students in the program are trained to do that, McGrath said. “It’s rewarding to do something that you know will help someone else,” he said. “That is what our students have the chance to do.”