BME Design Students Participate in BMES Coulter College

Coulter College Students 2017

Left to right: biomedical engineering undergraduate students Amanda Meriwether, Jacob Rodenbusch, Sumarth Mehta, and Victoria Lee at the 2017 Coulter College Training Program in Atlanta, Georgia.

Biomedical engineering undergraduate students Victoria Lee, Sumarth Mehta, Amanda Meriwether, and Jacob Rodenbusch, along with faculty advisor Dr. Laura Suggs, traveled to Atlanta in August to participate in the 2017 Coulter College Training Program.

The program, sponsored by the Biomedical Engineering Society, is a competitive four-day design experience that focuses on the translation of biomedical innovations.

The Coulter College administration placed participants in four-person teams with students from different schools. Teams were assigned a problem area and tasked with developing a medical device to fit that need.

Students then attended lectures and presented ideas to business leaders, industrial designers, a team of physicians, innovators, industry represntatives, and professors, all of whom gave feedback and helped teams eliminate poor ideas early in the process. The following two days involved further developing medical device designs and mock pitching ideas to a venture capitalist.

While separate from the design curriculum at UT Austin, the Coulter College experience did show how business practices and plans can inform design.

“The program informed students about potential paths for employment in biomedical engineering,” says Suggs. “This type of experience may be particularly beneficial for students focused on the business side of engineering.”

Students were also able to use skills they have learned in the UT Austin curriculum. One student says she was able draw on skills she learned in an engineering communication course (333T).

“My team’s project was focused on diagnosing and differentiating between bacterial, viral, and allergic conjunctivitis to reduce over prescription of antibiotics. We came up with a point-of-care paper microfluidic device to detect different antigens in the tear of affected individuals,” says Amanda Meriwether, whose team won the business plan pitch in her division. “I worked as a TA in an engineering communications class over the summer, and after the Coulter College experience, was able to tell students what they are learning has real-world applicability.”