A VCU School of Engineering team won first place in the national 2017 Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES) Undergraduate Design Competition.
The group, Khade Grant, Kelsey Hideshima and Matthew Schneck, advised by Paul Wetzel, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering, took top honors for the project, “Early and Accurate Differentiation between Parkinson’s Disease and Essential Tremor.”
The VCU team was one of six finalists — including Johns Hopkins University and Purdue University — who presented their work at the BMES 2017 annual meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, held Oct. 11-14, 2017. The VCU team received the $3,000 top prize.
The team developed a device that tracks head and hand movements that could be used to assist physicians during the diagnosis of movement disorders. The goal is to make it easier to distinguish between early stage Parkinson’s disease and the neurological disorder known as essential tremor. [See their video.] The group plans to develop protocols and receive approval to test the device in a clinical setting.
The three then-undergraduate students, along with Raghav Atluri, all biomedical engineering majors, formed a senior design capstone team in 2016 and won a Sternheimer Award for their project. The team went on to win the Excellence in Design Award for biomedical engineering at the Capstone Design Expo in May 2017.
Wetzel said his senior design teams have been selected as finalists for the BMES competition three years in a row, with two first place awards and one second place award.