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Jin Lee

5 outstanding research projects undergraduate students worked on this summerAugust 9, 2019

On July 30, more than 40 Engineering students featured their summer projects in the JHE Lobby. Here are some that caught our eye.

Animated comics: Building literacy through teamwork
Department of Computing and Software
Yumna Irfan (pictured), Pedram Yazdinia (pictured), Christopher Schankula (pictured), Stephanie Koehl, Deborah Dutton, Chitwan Sharma and Christopher Anand

Yumna Irfan with fellow classmates. 

McMaster Start Coding has been introducing youth in Hamilton and the surrounding area to the STEM fields for more than a decade. By creating new frameworks and tools for elementary and middle school students, participants can learn about STEM in a fun way, such as learning how to code.

Knowing that children love comics, the team has extended their tools for graphics programming to create a comics tool that allows children to create animated comic strips. The activity supports multiple literacies, including English literacy, visual design literacy and digital information literacy, as well as teamwork and planning.

Yumna Irfan, a third-year Biomedical student, got involved during her first year at McMaster and recently completed a co-op term with the program.

"By incorporating mathematical concepts such as the Cartesian coordinate system and trigonometry, we have seen students understand things that they have learned in class better by playing with the tools we have provided," says Irfan. "I really like teaching kids coding and being able to make a difference. It’s really inspiring to see them get interested in STEM — they don’t even realize they’re learning.”  

Miniaturizing corked-shell microcapsules for ultrasound triggered release of drugs 
Department of Chemical Engineering
Jonathan Que (pictured), Andrew Singh and Todd Hoare

Jonathan Que. 

There is a distinct need for tunable externally triggered drug delivery systems. Such a system would give clinicians a much greater degree of control over the patient's treatment, and as a result, deliver a greater standard of care. So how can this be achieved? According to second-year Chemical and Bioengineering student Jonathan Que, using corked microcapsules, which are triggered by ultrasound.

An electrospraying technique was previously developed in the Hoare Lab to fabricate corked-shelled microcapsules ranging from 60um to 150um to make current capsules smaller. Que says these new capsules would benefit from a miniaturization because it would allow for the capsule to travel through the blood stream easier when necessary.

"I'm still playing with the concentration and parameters," says Jonathan Que. "Finding a perfect balance is a science." 

Multiscale imaging techniques of in vivo cellulose nanocrystal aerogel bone scaffolds 
Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Department of Chemical Engineering and the School of Biomedical Engineering
Ariana Hurley (pictured), Joe Deering, Daniel Osorio and Kathryn Grandfield

Ariana Hurley.

Bone tissue grafts and scaffolds are widely used to aid in healing of bone defects. Injectable bone tissue scaffolds allow for minimally invasive surgery, while cellulose nanocrystal aerogels, a low-density material, have shown to be viable injectable bone tissue scaffolds.

Third-year iBiomed student Ariana Hurley investigated a method by which bone interfaces in scaffold sites can be imaged on a multi-length scale through various imaging modalities.

“This project is a continuum of what I did last summer,” says Hurley. “I used four different imaging techniques to measure from microscale to the nanoscale.”

Imaging parameters and sample preparation procedures were optimized to best visualize this interface. Localized areas of interest were identified by micro-CT, which were then sectioned, visualized on the microscale with optical microscopy, and meso-length scale with the SEM. Samples were also imaged in a plasma focused ion beam microscope to obtain a 3D volume of old bone, new bone interface on the nano length scale.

Visualization of polystyrene microbeads in a paramagnetic medium under the influence of an external magnetic field
School of Biomedical Engineering and the Department of Mechanical Engineering
Jenna Harris, Srivatsa Aithal, Tamaghna Gupta, Sarah Mishriki, Rakesh P. Sahu and Ishwar K. Puri

Jenna Harris.

Second-year Engineering Physics and iBiomed student Jenna Harris dedicated her summer to her passion.

“My goal is to make healthcare more accessible,” says Harris. "The thing I love most about my program is being able to combine engineering, physics and healthcare."

Typically, cells are grown in two dimensions, which is less representative of physiological conditions. Magnetically assisted 3D bioprinting creates 3D structures of cells quickly and without the use of a scaffold, which is valuable to the fields of tissue engineering, drug screening and drug discovery. 

While the project is still in progress, Harris and her team has been able to determine that Gd concentration has a greater influence on particle flow than volume of solution. Harris says she hopes to continue the project by performing more thorough image analysis and experimenting with different magnet configurations.

"To get 3D formation of cells, we used polyester beads," says Harris. "[We] want the solution to be as close to chemical as possible. 3D printing of cells is necessary for drug development and tissue growth."

SEPT Technological Research 
W Booth School of Engineering Practice and Technology
Adam Sokacz

Adam Sokacz.

Throughout Adam Sokacz’s three-month term at the McMaster School of Engineering Practice and Technology (SEPT), he participated in various projects that allowed him to research the applications of modern technologies, including in the field of multirotor drones and microcontrollers designed for Internet of Things applications.

Sokacz, who will be entering his second-year of BTech, says MultiWii was used to set up the hardware for drone communication. The ATMega328 platform worked with a common accelerometer/gyroscope board to provide stabilization. The user input from the transmitter was able to control the rotor speed, which yields promising results for the future implementation on campus.

“I get to work with a lot of cool tools like 3D printers,” says Sokacz. “We have some really cool equipment on campus. I got to build a drone, which is a big interest of mine, so I’m working on an ongoing project. I really love doing this."