The Catholic University of America

Feb. 24, 2014 

Undergraduate Biomedical Engineering Papers Win

  CUA biomedical engineering majors were awarded first prize in the District of Columbia Council of Engineering and Architectural Societies’ student paper competition.

Two research papers written by Catholic University biomedical engineering majors were awarded first prize in the District of Columbia Council of Engineering and Architectural Societies’ (DCCEAS) student paper competition. The papers were tied for first place; judges determined that both deserved the award.

Written as part of the Department of Biomedical Engineering’s two-semester Senior Design course, the papers concern different aspects of stroke rehabilitation for the hand and arm.

“Hand Assistive Rehabilitation Pneumatic Exoskeleton (HARPE) for Stroke Patients,” written by Majid Jamialahmadi, Alawiya Al Hashem, and Wesley Conn, describes the process of designing, building, and testing a low-cost stroke rehabilitation device that “safely opens and closes the hand and fingers with natural and controlled motion” using micro-controlled pneumatic pressure.

Co-author Jamialahmadi said, “Winning against top engineering students in the D.C. area has motivated us to continue improving our project so that stroke patients can regain the ability to use their hands.” Jamialahmadi and Al Hashem begin the master’s degree program in biomedical engineering at CUA in the fall. Conn plans to attend medical school after working for a year in the medical device industry.

“Ali [Taylor], Adissa [Silue], and I dedicated a lot of time and effort to the device, so getting recognized for our hard work makes all those long hours spent in the workshop worth it,” said Kaitlyn Lafferty, co-author of the second paper, “Forearm Rotation Device: Relearning Supination and Pronation Through Repetitive Motion Rehabilitation Training.”

Two CUA teams tied for the award. 

Their paper describes the design, building, and testing of a portable, comfortable, usable device for stroke victims to use at home or in the hospital that helps them rotate their forearm, hand, and wrist more extensively. Lafferty and Silue will enter the biomedical engineering master’s program in the fall. Taylor plans to pursue work in biomedical engineering.

The design and writing process for both groups was similar, with the teams dividing the work and writing according to each student’s particular strengths.

Speaking of the senior design class experience, Lafferty said, “Having the opportunity to create a device and test it with actual stroke patients — such a hands-on experience is rare for most undergraduates.”

Added Jamialahmadi, “We also learned that hard work will pay off one day as long as you are patient.”

“We’re extremely proud of this accomplishment,” said Binh Tran, associate professor of biomedical engineering. “Both groups scored equally in the undergraduate category and at the top of their category.”

The winners received their award certificates and a cash prize of $500 to be split between the two teams at the DCCEAS Engineers Week Awards Banquet on Feb. 22.

Previous DCCEAS student paper competition winners from CUA include Pedro Gonzales, a first-place winner for a graduate-level paper in 2013; Andrew Hoffmaster and Andrew Gravunder, first-place winners for an undergraduate-level paper in 2011; and, in 2009, Kristen Kennedy, first-place winner, and Thomas Giuliani, second-place winner for undergraduate-level papers.




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