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Jin Lee

Students helping students April 17, 2018

iBioMed End-of-Year Showcase highlights design solutions to help McMaster students.

On April 9, nine groups of first-year students from the new Integrated Biomedical Engineering & Health Sciences (iBioMed) program presented design solutions to help their fellow colleagues registered with McMaster’s Student Accessibility Services.

"We challenged our students to solve an open-ended, real-world problem,” explains Colin McDonald, Director, Engineering 1 and Co-Instructor of the iBioMed first-year course, Health Solutions Design Projects I. “They presented refined, functional prototypes that could be used immediately by their client.” 

One of the clients, Elissa James, is a second year political science student at McMaster. Elissa has dystonia, a neurological movement disorder that causes muscle contractions, making it difficult to do simple tasks such as writing and cutting food.  

“The entire class was engaged and the groups that I worked with really paid attention to my needs,” says James. “The most rewarding part of the experience was getting to meet and work with such a smart and talented group of students. Truly, they were what made my experience so great!” 

Here are three design solutions made for Elissa:

The Food Rainbow  

Matana Hendrickson, Cherrie Hung and Sarah Rassenberg (not pictured)

Names: (from L to R) Matana Hendrickson, Cherrie Hung and Sarah Rassenberg (not pictured)
Award: The group won "Best Presentation" at the event. 
What it is: A 3D printed device that helps Elissa cut food without having to stabilize the food with her hand. The device supports the food with five different arcs at varying diameters, depending on the shape and size of the food.
Success from failure: “This is a project that came together last minute,” says Hendrickson. “Our initial idea was a cutting box with gears and springs. It was very complex. When we wanted to make it, it was beyond our skill level. So we went back to the drawing board and we designed this. We took a failure and made it into something we’re very proud of.”
On being the first iBioMed students: “We’re very lucky to be in the first year of the program because it’s still in development and that means we have a lot of support from our mentors and professors,” says Hendrickson.


Konrad Grala, Amanda Tomkins, Justin Rosner and Ahmed Abdel Halim Attia

Names: (From L to R) Konrad Grala, Amanda Tomkins, Justin Rosner and Ahmed Abdel Halim Attia 
Award: The device won “Best Project Design” at the event.  
What it is: A wireless Bluetooth mouse, reconfigured to fit on a glove. Elissa has trouble using a mouse as she experiences spasms in her thumb and index finger. The glove allows her to use the side of her hand and her middle and ring finger to control the mouse.
Most rewarding part of the project: “When you’re making a difference in someone’s life, it drives you to push the boundaries in innovation,” says Attia.

Write Ai-d 

Madeline Waywell, Maya Ziolkowska and Akil Hamilton

Names: (From L to R) Madeline Waywell, Maya Ziolkowska and Akil Hamilton 
What is it: An ergonomically-designed stylus integrated with machine-learning software to help Elissa write more easily. Elissa would place her hand around the spherical stylus, which has slots to support her fingers as she writes. The machine-learning algorithm predicts the characters she writes.
Why iBioMed: “It’s incredible,” says Hamilton. “It allows us to step out of our comfort zone and explore different avenues. You’re also able to design your own devices and technologies based on your client’s needs and it’s not restricted to a specific ideology.”