Capstone Projects

The Capstone Project is intended to culminate the skills of the BME undergraduate degree. The  students are required to take the course and complete the project their senior year. Below are examples of student projects from previous years. 

Class of 2015

Project 1: Fabrication of Immunosensing Soft Contact Lens as a POC System in Eye Infection Detection

Abstract: Rapid diagnosis of infection within the eye is an area of study that has (to date) been very limited in exploration and innovation. Differentiation between bacterial, fungal, and viral infections within the eye is a difficult process due to the similarities in symptoms in patients with a variety of ocular infections. Proposed is an ELISA-based immunosensing contact lens capable of detecting inflammatory protein markers within human aqueous tears. Soft contact lens assembly will be conducted via two primary methods: synthesis of novel hydrogel-based lens with maximum binding capabilities and improved cross-linking and surface plasma modification of commercially available soft contact lens for binding and successful detection. The lenses will be printed with anti- VCAM-1 antibodies, intended for the detection of the protein VCAM-1, an inflammatory marker. Detection will be conducted using a solution of peroxidase-labeled secondary antibodies in conjunction with a silver reagent, initiating an enzyme-catalyzed silver deposition reaction indicative of the presence of the inflammatory marker. Initial progress in development has been focused on research and acquisition of materials. Due to the limited literature available in the development of such novel diagnostic tools, extensive research has been conducted into creating a device with optimum binding and detecting capabilities. All materials have been sourced and, once received, will immediately be used for hydrogel synthesis and commercial lens plasma modification. Extensive testing will be conducted on the lenses, utilizing an artificial “tear” solution containing VCAM-1 protein for feasibility of design. Following establishment of success of this design, additional modifications will be made to test lens’ capability for differentiating between different types of inflammatory responses and viability of this diagnostic device in clinical applications.

Project 2: Modular Physiological Monitoring System

Abstract: The intended application of the project is vital monitoring during commercial space flights, home healthcare, fitness, and research. The system will measure both physiological and environmental parameters simultaneously. EKG, skin temperature, barometric pressure (altitude), ambient temperature, accelerations, and UV index are the parameters that will be measured. The centerpiece of the system is the Arduino microcontroller. All sensors and the EKG shield are connected to the Arduino boards, which extract the readings of all sensors. The extracted data will be sent to a computer through Wi-Fi thanks to the wireless capability of the Arduino Yun microcontroller. Plotly will be used for data extraction and analysis. Parameter relational plots will be constructed using physiological response to environmental stressors. At the conclusion of last semester we constructed a model on an Arduino Uno board to demonstrate system capabilities. An ambient temperature sensor was implemented in the model with on-board LED lights (green and red) that provided notification (Red LED) when the ambient temperature exceeded 21.5 degrees Celsius. An LCD monitor was also included to demonstrate continuous sensor measurements and display. At the beginning of the second semester we had completed development of the hardware prototype (Milestone 1) and the formation of the Central Hardware Interface (CHI) (Milestone 2), and were starting to work on the data extraction, analysis, and display. This was done by using Plotly to communicate sensor data wirelessly to a server. A computer then extracts this data and displays it in real-time. At the conclusion of the second semester, we had a completed system that utilized two microcontrollers to wirelessly extract and display data (Milestone 3). Although using two microcontrollers was not our original objective, it was the best way for us to integrate the serial EKG into the system. Future work can focus on the miniaturization of the system and establishing communication between the two boards. Our total expenditure for this project was $168 in parts and $6400 in labor.

Project 3: Embryo Dissection Station

Abstract: The purpose of our project was to design, improve, and develop the methods and processes used for the live embryo dissection, including, improvement to the dissection station and examination process. The specific concentration of this project was the construction of a live embryo dissection station that has the same uniform temperature throughout the apparatus that is also economical with regard to fabrication (i.e., the process is cost- and time-effective).

Project 4: Google Glass as a Diagnostic for Melanoma

Abstract: Early melanoma diagnosis is vital for the prevention of complication onsets that may compromise an individual’s life span. In order to diagnose for the presence of melanoma, patients are required to visit a medical facility, which results in the negligence of early symptoms. Our team proposed to develop a melanoma diagnostic utility using Google Glass, which would help provide a point-of-care diagnosis without having to visit a medical facility. Developing a Google Glass diagnostic presents various challenges that mandate the integration of different techniques. The Glass is only capable of capturing 2 dimensional images with its camera, but in order to enhance the diagnostic accuracy, we are developing a code based on the modification of existing algorithms that can create 3-dimensional images from 2-dimensional images. Implementing additional diagnostic criteria for existing 2-dimensional analysis will allow for a 3-dimensional melanoma analysis, which would provide definitive diagnostic results. Image acquisition and analysis will be done via servers that support the processes, and then integrated into the Google Glass. At this time, the Google Glass provides big challenges due to its relative new introduction into the technology market. Therefore, our project includes establishing a method to connect the Google Glass to a development platform, create a graphical user interface to display the diagnostic results, and integrate the servers for a comprehensive diagnosis. During this semester, we were able to establish the software development platform, create a sample melanoma diagnostic display, create a preliminary low resolution 3-dimensional image construct, and run successful 2-dimensional analysis on sample melanoma images. The sponsors covered the Google Glass cost of $1,500, and the University of Houston provides the necessary software for the development process.

Project 5: Optimization of SMFT-based Actuation System Final Report

Abstract: In our Capstone Design Project, we are tasked to optimize an actuation system based on Solid Media Flexible Transmission (SMFT). The SMFT-based system is applicable for robot-assisted surgeries within the MRI, where a very strong permanent magnetic field, fast changing magnetic field gradients and RF pulses are used. SMFT tubes have the potential to efficiently transfer force without the use of magnetically susceptible materials, making it compatible with the MRI scanner. Previously, the tubes have been used at a force transfer efficiency of 50%. Our goal is to increase the force transfer efficiency to 70%. To achieve this goal, we designed a force transfer efficiency testing system involving load cell force sensors, a testing station, and SMFT tubes (Milestones 1, 2, and 3). We also aimed to complete the actuation system by assembling an MRI-compatible needle onto it (Milestone 4). We have successfully completed Milestones 1 and 2, which involves calibrating the load cell and designing a cost-efficient stationary load cell holder to hold the load cell for force efficiency tests. In completing Milestone 3, we have successfully made more stable connections using BNC-BNC cables and interlocking connectors and collected data for the force transfer efficiency of a 1m SMFT tube. Milestone 4 involves assembling a needle holder to be attached to the actuation system and testing it on a porcine kidney suspended in a ballistic gel. The project has reliability constraints for the load cell rod, economic constraints in the 3D printing of the load cell testing station, and manufacturability constraint in the current 3D printing cost and the project’s applicability to test other force transfer systems. During the testing, standards such as the maximum load capacity and the excitation voltage of the load cells have to be determined. The load cell itself follows the accuracy standard IEC 61298-2. In conclusion, the force transfer efficiency decreases with increasing lengths of tubes, but increases at an average of 12.1% across all tubes.

Class of 2014

Project 1: Wireless ECG and Respiratory Monitoring System 

Abstract: The purpose of this project is to design a Wireless ECG and Respiratory Monitoring System. The ECG signal would be collected by electrodes and then amplified and filtered by analog circuit. Next the microcontroller would convert the analog signal into digital signal and amplify it even more. The microcontroller is included in the Wireless transmitter system. Then the data will be sent through MSP430 wireless transmitter (TI wireless development tool) to be processed in a local PC. Our Respiratory monitoring system measures the airflow by using nasal cannula pressure system. This system consists of a nasal cannula (which is standard for oxygen administration) connected to a pressure transducer. Respiratory waveform signal will be generated by detecting the fluctuations in pressure caused by inspiration and expiration. The data will be sent through the same wireless transmitter to be processed in a local PC.

Project 2: Optical Projection Tomography System

Abstract: The scope of this project is to build for Baylor College of Medicine an Optical Projection Tomography system to use in function with an ongoing embryology study. The goal of this project is for the Optical Projection Tomography system to provide a method for high throughput murine embryo imaging. Our design is based on previously published work from the University of Toronto with tweaks and customizations for the specific application requested by Baylor College of Medicine. These tweaks include a differing CCD camera and lens, as well as a possible rotating stage for sequential imaging of multiple embryos at once.

Project 3

Abstract: The project aims to design, test, and build a Universal Transducer Adapter (UTA) to use in conjunction with commercially available Ultrasound Systems and the Euclid™ Tier 1 Mini Access System designed by Houston Medical Robotics (HMR). The UTA is a much needed design improvement to the Euclid™ system because of the time and financial cost associated with redesigning the adapter for different commercially available ultrasound systems. Multiple design concepts will be presented and tested both in benchtop and animal models and the necessary design documentation will be completed throughout this process. Secondarily, the Euclid™ Tier 1 Mini Base will be ergonomically redesigned for customer ease of use.

Project 4: Lupus Biomarkers

Abstract: The goal of this project is to identify Lupus biomarkers that will be used in a sensor to track the progress of Lupus in a diagnosed patient. Lupus is a systemic autoimmune disease that often results in kidney failure. By tracking the proteins that are filtered through the kidney, it is possible to identify protein biomarkers that are involved in this kidney damage. In order to achieve this goal, enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISA) will be run on urine samples of Lupus patients that will identify those protein biomarkers that have a statistically higher protein concentration compared to patients who are not diagnosed with Lupus. After these biomarkers are identified, a sensor can be created that will evaluate the concentration of these proteins in a urine sample. This sensor can be used in a at home diagnostic kit that can allow a patient to track the progress of their disease without going to the doctor. If the sensor produces alarming results, the patient can then visit the doctor to reevaluate their treatment plan.