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Engineering Students Showcase Capstone Projects at New Statewide Design Invitational

Two all-female senior teams from the University of Miami’s College of Engineering showcased their capstone projects at the inaugural Florida-Wide Student Engineering Design Invitational. The students competed against nine other Florida universities and were the only all-female teams at the Showcase.

The event was held on April 19 at the University of Central Florida’s College of Engineering and Computer Science in Orlando. The host university designation will rotate among partners in the years to follow.

Kathleen Lu BSBE ’18, Rose Thatcher BSBE ’18 and Sofia Vignolo BSBE ’18, displayed their “Automated Cell Cluster Quantification for Diabetes Research with MIN6 Spheroids.” The Automated Cell Cluster (ACC) allows biomedical research scientists to measure the size distribution of cell clusters in a time-efficient, cost-efficient and precise way. It also allows validation using pancreatic β-cell line (MIN6) spheroids that models islets used in diabetes research. The ACC quantifies the size distribution of multiple cell clusters samples at once using a user-friendly interface.

Sabrina Anand BSBE ’18, Isabella Claure BSBE ’18 and Denise Manfrini BSBE ’18 presented their “Automatic Power Grip Exercise for Spinal Cord Injury Patients.” Today, there are approximately 240,000 to 337,000 people in the USA living with chronic spinal cord injury (SCI). There is no way yet to reverse spinal cord injury. Unless the patient undergoes physical therapy and/or participates in clinical trials, the patient doesn’t have many options for treatment. Paralysis researchers need a way to objectively test participants’ motor skills and automatically record their progress with standardized and reproducible exercises. The team developed a device with several sensors, which records reaction time. At the end of the activity, a report is created indicating reaction times. This information can be used by the SCI research team to measure improvements in the patients and, in the future, to make modifications to their patients’ routines and improve gross motor skills at home.

The Design Invitational is the first-of-its-kind partnership and was developed by the engineering deans from Florida’s public and private universities to showcase the collective strength of engineering and computer science programs in the state. It also highlighted the strategic importance of these universities in preparing thousands of skilled engineering and technology graduates who will as professional engineers meet the demands of the state’s rapidly-growing innovation economy.

In addition to the University of Miami College of Engineering and University of Central Florida, other participating universities included: Florida Atlantic University, Florida International University, Florida Institute of Technology, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, University of Florida, Florida A&M – Florida State University, University of North Florida and the University of South Florida.

Florida is ranked the nation’s best state for higher education by U.S. News & World Report, and its universities are the nation’s # 1 workforce supplier to the aerospace and defense industry, according to Aviation Week. With 65,000 open STEM jobs in Florida, highly skilled graduates are in demand.

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