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07-26-2013

Clarkson University Engineering Team Places Second in Rehabilitation and Assistive Design Competition

An integrated design team from the Department of Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering at Clarkson University claimed second place in the third annual Undergraduate Design Project Competition in Rehabilitation and Assistive Devices sponsored by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME).

Left to right: Martin Tanaka Ph.D., chair of the design competition, with Clarkson students Allan Osaheni, Robert Griffin, Janine Amell, Christopher Nycz, and Madison Malfa, and Clarkson Prof. Laurel Kuxhaus. Not pictured, Professors Byron Erath and Kevin Fite.The Clarkson project was titled “Cost Effective Electrolarynx Design: A Feasibility Study.”

The objective of the design effort was to create a low-cost electrolarynx for voice rehabilitation in patients who have undergone a laryngectomy. The electromechanical device utilizes an electrical actuator to create high-frequency vibrations of a diaphragm.

When the diaphragm is placed on the neck, sound produced by the vibrating diaphragm is transmitted through the neck tissue into the oral cavity, thereby enabling a person to produce intelligible sound through traditional tongue and mouth movements.

The prototype demonstrated significant cost savings over traditional electromechanical assistive speech devices that are already on the market, while also having the added flexibility of adjusting the vibration of the diaphragm in order to optimize the sound production on a patient specific basis.

The design team was comprised of mechanical engineering majors Janine Amell '13 of Schenectady, N.Y., Robert Griffin '13 of Hyde Park, N.Y., Madison Malfa '13 of Airmont, N.Y., Christopher Nycz '13 of Wallkill, N.Y., and Allen Osaheni '13 of Clifton Park, N.Y., and was directed by Associate Professor Kevin Fite and Assistant Professors Byron Erath and Laurel Kuxhaus. This marks the third consecutive year in which a team from Clarkson has placed in the top-two of the competition.

Six finalists for the competition were selected from 31 initial submissions based on a technical paper describing their proposed device and its impact on individual and public health. The paper addressed product need and market potential, development of a prototype device, and an economic plan for its commercialization based on market analysis.

The final competition for the six finalists comprised an oral presentation and prototype demonstration by each design team, and was held in June at the 2013 ASME Summer Bioengineering Conference in Sunriver, Ore.

The Clarkson students competed against finalists from the University of Michigan, Rochester Institute of Technology, University of Toledo, University of Utah, and University of Delaware. Clarkson is the only university that has advanced to the final competition all three years as well as the only university that has placed in the top-three, all three years.

As a finalist, the team received a $3,000 award from the ASME Bioengineering Division to defray the costs of traveling to the conference.  

More information about the competition can be found at http://www.asmeconferences.org/SBC2013/UndergraduateCompetition.cfm

Clarkson University launches leaders into the global economy. One in five alumni already leads as a CEO, VP or equivalent senior executive of a company. Located just outside the Adirondack Park in Potsdam, N.Y., Clarkson is a nationally recognized research university for undergraduates with select graduate programs in signature areas of academic excellence directed toward the world's pressing issues. Through 50 rigorous programs of study in engineering, business, arts, sciences and health sciences, the entire learning-living community spans boundaries across disciplines, nations and cultures to build powers of observation, challenge the status quo, and connect discovery and engineering innovation with enterprise.

Photo caption: An integrated design team from the Department of Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering at Clarkson University claimed second place in the third annual Undergraduate Design Project Competition in Rehabilitation and Assistive Devices sponsored by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME). Left to right: Martin Tanaka Ph.D., chair of the design competition, with Clarkson students Allan Osaheni, Robert Griffin, Janine Amell, Christopher Nycz, and Madison Malfa, and Clarkson Prof. Laurel Kuxhaus. Not pictured, Professors Byron Erath and Kevin Fite.

[A photograph for media use is available at http://www.clarkson.edu/news/photos/asme-design-2013.jpg .]

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Michael P. Griffin, director of News & Digital Content Services, at 315-268-6716 or mgriffin@clarkson.edu.]

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