2023 Senior Design Project Competition Winners Announced

Each year, Penn Engineering’s seniors present their Senior Design projects, a year-long effort that challenges them to test and develop solutions to real-world problems, to their individual departments. The top three projects from each department go on to compete in the annual Senior Design Competition, sponsored by the Engineering Alumni Society, which involves pitching projects to a panel of judges who evaluate their potential in the market.

We are proud that two of the four awards went to Penn Bioengineering teams!

This year’s panel included over forty judges, and each winning team received a $2,000 prize, generously sponsored by Penn Engineering alumnus Kerry Wisnosky.

Congratulations to all of the 2023 participants and winners!

Technology & Innovation Award

This award recognized the team whose project represents the highest and best use of technology and innovation to leverage engineering principles.

Team BAMBI poses with Dean Vijay Kumar.

Winner: Team BAMBI
Department: Bioengineering
Team Members: Ria Dawar, Pallavi Jonnalagadda, Jessica Ling, Grace Qian
Mentor: Erin Anderson
Instructors: Erin Berlew, Sevile Mannickarottu, and David Meaney
Abstract: BAMBI (Biointelligent Apnea Monitor for Bradycardia-Prone Infants) is a tripartite system that leverages machine learning and automated mechanical stimulation to detect and treat apnea of prematurity in the NICU.

Judges’ Choice Award

Team StablEyes poses with Dean Vijay Kumar.This award recognizes the group whose all-around presentation captures the best of the senior design program’s different facets:  ideation, scope of project, team problem-solving, execution and presentation.

Winner: Team StablEyes
Department: Bioengineering
Team Members: Ella Atsavapranee, Jake Becker, Ruoming Fan, Savan Patel
Mentor: Erin Anderson, Dr. Drew Scoles and Dr. Tomas Aleman (Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Penn Medicine)
Instructors: Erin Berlew, Sevile Mannickarottu, and David Meaney
Abstract: StablEyes consists of a stabilization mount that provides fine, motorized control of the handheld OCT to improve ease of use for physicians and machine learning-based software to aid in diagnosis from retinal images.

Read the full list of SEAS Senior Design Competition Award winners in Penn Engineering Today.

Read more about all the Class of 2023 Penn Bioengineering Senior Design Teams in the Penn BE Labs website.

Celebrating the 2023 President’s Engagement and Innovation Prize Winners

by Lauren Hertzler

At a special luncheon on campus, President Liz Magill recognized this year’s eight awardees, who she said ‘exemplify imagination, creativity, grit, and leadership.’

President Liz Magill and Interim President Beth Winkelstein with the 2023 PEP and PIP awardees.

When Kenneth Pham got the call last week, he said he was “shocked.”

“It’s kind of embarrassing, the president’s call went straight to voicemail,” the fourth-year chemistry major said. “But I called her office right back.”

Pham quickly learned that he and Catherine Chang had earned one of this year’s President’s Engagement Prizes (PEP) for their project Act First, which, once established, will provide critical first-aid training to high school students in Philadelphia. Both members of Penn’s Medical Emergency Response Team since their earliest years on campus, Pham, from South Philadelphia, and Chang, from Taiwan, hope to extend the program’s lifesaving education off campus, teaching others how to reverse opioid overdoses, successfully administer CPR, and prevent life-threatening bleeding.

“We feel honored to be recognized for the work we’ve been so passionate about, and we are so glad to finally have the opportunity to work on this,” Pham said Wednesday afternoon, sitting next to Chang as well as his parents at a celebratory luncheon for this year’s PEP, as well as President’s Innovation Prize (PIP), winners.

“After all our hard work this past year, it feels great,” added Chang, who graduated with her degree in biology in December.

President Magill meets with Sonura teammate Sophie Ishiwari and her startup’s mentor Brian Halak, from Penn Engineering.

In addition to Act First, fourth-year neuroscience major Lucy Lee has been awarded a PEP for her initiative Communities for Childbirth, and fourth-year bioengineering majors Gabriella Daltoso, Sophie Ishiwari, Gabriela Cano, Caroline Amanda Magro, and Tifara Eliana Boyce have received a PIP for their startup Sonura. All three projects will be awarded $100,000 for implementation expenses, as well as a $50,000 living stipend per team member to be used in the coming year, immediately following graduation.

“This is a uniquely Penn experience,” said President Liz Magill, speaking to the awardees and their family members and mentors at the gathering. “No other university has a program quite like this, and I would like to say that’s in part because no other university has the student body we have at Penn, so focused on creating solutions to pressing societal problems. That particular characteristic is a trait that we celebrate, coming down from—yes, you guessed it—our founder Ben Franklin.”

Read the full story in Penn Today.

 

Daeyeon Lee: Evan C Thompson Lecture and American Chemical Society Award

 Daeyeon Lee, Professor and Evan C Thompson Term Chair for Excellence in Teaching in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and member of the Penn Bioengineering Graduate Group, is the recipient of two recent honors.

Surrounded by his supportive research team, fellow faculty, students, School of Engineering and Applied Science Dean Vijay Kumar, and Interim Provost Beth Winkelstein, Lee recently delivered the 2023 Evan C Thompson Chair Lecture about—fittingly enough—establishing a sense of community as we return from the isolating days of the pandemic.

Daeyeon Lee of the School of Engineering and Applied Science delivers the 2023 Thompson Chair Lecture on April 4, 2023. He spoke about reconnecting in the classroom and building community.

“Students who feel connected with instructors and among peers will invest more time, work harder, and retain information better, because they feel comfortable and safe being in the classroom and making space,” Lee said in his opening remarks. “So, there are clearly lots of positive benefits to having this connectedness among students in the classroom.”

Lee’s lecture, titled “(Re)connecting in the Classroom,” was inspired by the “Great Disengagement” referenced in an article published in The Chronicle of Higher Education last year. It portrayed students as more disconnected and uncertain as they re-entered the campus environment.

Read more about Lee’s “(Re)connecting in the Classroom” in Penn Today.

In addition, Lee has received the 2022 Outstanding Achievement Award in Nanoscience from the American Chemical Society (ACS).

The annual award recognizes exceptional achievements in nanoscience research and notable leadership in the area of colloidal nanoparticles and application. Lee was chosen from a large group of extraordinary nominees among the invited speakers, “for pioneering research in development of factory-on-a-chip and its application for large scale nanoparticle synthesis and functionalization.”

Read more about this award in Penn Engineering Today.

Penn Bioengineering Senior Design Team “Sonura” Wins 2023 President’s Innovation Prize

Gabriella Daltoso, Sophie Ishiwari, Gabriela Cano, Caroline Amanda Magro, and Tifara Eliana Boyce pose on College Green.
Sonura

University of Pennsylvania President Liz Magill announced on April 21, the recipients of the 2023 President’s Engagement and Innovation Prizes.

Awarded annually, the Prizes empower Penn students to design and undertake post-graduation projects that make a positive, lasting difference in the world. Each Prize-winning project will receive $100,000, as well as a $50,000 living stipend per team member. The Prizes are the largest of their kind in higher education. All Prize recipients collaborate with a Penn faculty mentor.

A team of fourth-year Bioengineering majors, Gabriella Daltoso, Sophie Ishiwari, Gabriela Cano, Caroline Amanda Magro, and Tifara Eliana Boyce, have received the President’s Innovation Prize for their project, Sonura.

“This year’s President’s Engagement and Innovation Prize recipients are fueled by a desire to make a difference—in their community, across the country, and around the world,” Magill said. “Communities for Childbirth, Act First, and Sonura embody an inspiring blend of passion and purpose. They are addressing consequential challenges with compelling solutions, and their dedication and smarts are exemplary. I congratulate them and wish them success as they launch and grow their ventures.”

The 2023 Prize recipients—selected from an applicant pool of 76—will spend the next year implementing the projects:

Gabriella Daltoso, Sophie Ishiwari, Gabriela Cano, Caroline Amanda Magro, and Tifara Eliana Boyce for Sonura: Daltoso, from Boise, Idaho; Ishiwari, from Chicago; Cano, from Lawrenceville, New Jersey; Magro, from Alexandria, Virginia; and Boyce, from Jamaica, Queens, New York, are bioengineering majors in the School of Engineering and Applied Science. Their startup, Sonura, is developing a beanie that promotes the cognitive and socioemotional development of newborns in the NICU by protecting them from the auditory hazards of their environments while fostering parental connection. The Sonura Beanie is composed of a frequency-dependent filter and a mobile application. The Sonura team is mentored by Brian Halak, a lecturer in the Engineering Entrepreneurship program. Sonura was developed in Penn’s Stephenson Foundation Bio-MakerSpace and was part of their Bioengineering Senior Design class.

To learn more about the 2023 President’s Engagement and Innovation Prizes, visit Penn Today.

2023 Undergraduate Awards for Bioengineering Students

Congratulations to the Bioengineering student recipients of undergraduate awards from the School of Engineering and Applied Science  for the 2022-2023 academic year. These  awards are given annually by the school and the department in recognition of outstanding scholarship and service. Read the full list of Bioengineering undergraduate award winners below.

The Wolf-Hallac Award: Sofia Mouchtaris. This award was established in October 2000 to recognize the graduating female senior from across Penn Engineering’s departments who is seen as a role model, has achieved a high GPA (in the top 10% of their class), and who has demonstrated a commitment to school and/or community.

The Management and Technology Scholarship Award: Savan Patel. This prize is awarded by the SEAS faculty to that member of the senior class in the Jerome Fisher Management and Technology Program who has created an innovative system and attained high scholastic achievement.

The Hugo Otto Wolf Memorial Prize: Joshua Freedman & Le He. This prize is awarded to one or more members of each department’s senior class, distinguishing students who meet with great approval of the professors at large through “thoroughness and originality” in their work.

The Herman P. Schwan Award: Laila Norford. This department award honors a graduating senior who demonstrates the “highest standards of scholarship and academic achievement.”

Exceptional Service Awards recognize students for their outstanding service to the University and their larger communities: Dylan Hurok, Julia Lottman, Caroline Magro & Grace Qian.

The Student Leadership Award: Moses Zeidan. This award is given annually to a student in Bioengineering who has demonstrated, through a combination of academic performance, service, leadership, and personal qualities, that they will be a credit to the Department, the School, and the University.

Additionally, the Bioengineering Department  also presents a single lab group with the Albert Giandomenico Award which reflects their “teamwork, leadership, creativity, and knowledge applied to discovery-based learning in the laboratory.” This year’s group consists of Ella Atsavapranee, Jake Becker, Ruoming Fan & Savan Patel, aka Team StablEyes.

The awardees above were recognized at the annual Penn Engineering Awards Ceremony held Wednesday, March 29, 2023 in the Harrison Auditorium, Penn Museum.

Three Bioengineering Senior Design teams were chosen for recognition in the Bioengineering Senior Design Competition:

Team BAMBI: Ria Dawar, Pallavi Jonnalagadda, Jessica Ling, & Grace Qian. BAMBI (Biointelligent Apnea Monitor for Bradycardia-Prone Infants) is a tripartite system that leverages machine learning and automated mechanical stimulation to detect and treat apnea of prematurity in the NICU.

Team StablEyes: Ella Atsavapranee, Jake Becker, Ruoming Fan, & Savan Patel. StablEyes consists of a stabilization mount that provides fine, motorized control of the handheld OCT to improve ease of use for physicians and machine learning-based software to aid in diagnosis from retinal images.

Team inSPIRE: Jackson Dooley, Joshua Freedman,Yi-An Hsieh, Isabella Mirro, & Parth Mody. inSPIRE is the first smart incentive spirometer, used post-operatively to improve patient outcomes and reduce costs associated with complications and readmissions.

These teams will compete in the Penn Engineering Senior Design Competition on Friday, April 28, 2023.

Research for these projects was conducted in the George H. Stephenson Foundation Education Laboratory & Bio-Maker Space. Learn about all the 2023 Senior Design projects and view their final presentations on the Stephenson Bio-MakerSpace website here.

A full list of Penn Engineering award descriptions and recipients can be found here.

This Patterned Surface Solves Equations at the Speed of Light

by Devorah Fischler

A tailored silicon nanopattern coupled with a semi-transparent gold mirror can solve a complex mathematical equation using light. (Image credit: Ella Maru studio)

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, AMOLF, and the City University of New York (CUNY) have created a surface with a nanostructure capable of solving mathematical equations.

Powered by light and free of electronics, this discovery introduces exciting new prospects for the future of computing.

Nader Engheta, H. Nedwill Ramsey Professor of Electrical and Systems Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania School of Engineering and Applied Science, is a visionary figure in optics and in electromagnetic platforms. For the last two decades, he has created theory and designed experiments to make electromagnetic and optical devices that operate at the fastest rate in the universe.

Engheta is the founder of the influential field of “optical metatronics.” He creates materials that interact with photons to manipulate data at the speed of light. Engheta’s contribution to this study marks an important advance in his quest to use light-matter interactions to surpass the speed and energy limitations of digital electronics, bringing analog computing out of the past and into the future.

“I began the work on optical metatronics in 2005,” says Engheta, “wondering if it were possible to recreate the elements of a standard electronic circuit at nanoscale. At this tiny size, it would be possible to manipulate the circuit with light, rather than electricity. After achieving this, we became more ambitious, envisioning collections of these nanocircuits as processors. In 2014, we were designing materials that used these optical nanostructures to perform mathematical operations, and in 2019, we anted up to entire mathematical equations using microwaves. Now, my collaborators and I have created a surface that can solve equations using light waves, a significant step closer to our larger goals for computing materials.”

The study, recently published in Nature Nanotechnology, demonstrates the possibility of solving complex mathematical problems and a generic matrix inversion at speeds far beyond those of typical digital computing methods.

The solution converges in about 349 femtoseconds (less than one trillionth of a second), orders of magnitude faster than the clock speed of a conventional processor.

Read the full story in Penn Engineering Today.

Nader Engheta is the H. Nedwill Ramsey Professor in the Departments of Electrical and Systems Engineering and in Bioengineering in the School of Engineering and Applied Science and Professor in Physics and Astronomy in the School of Arts & Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania.

Penn Bioengineering Alumnus Michael Magaraci Featured with New Haven Recycling Startup

Recycling bin full of plastic water bottles.
Credit: sdominick/Getty Images.

Michael Magaraci, Research Scientist at Protein Evolution and alumnus of Penn Bioengineering, featured in CT Insider for the New Haven, CT startup’s quest to replace the global recycling system. The company, founded in 2021, is working on methods to eventually recycle polyester fabrics, rugs, and other materials that end up in landfills. Magaraci, who serves as director of platform engineering, earned a bachelor’s degree in Bioengineering and Economics in the Jerome Fisher Program in Management & Technology from Penn Engineering and the Wharton School of Business in 2013. He stayed with Penn Bioengineering for his doctoral research, completed in 2021. During his time at Penn, he worked as a Teaching Assistant and Laboratory Technician, advised Penn iGEM Teams, and served with Engineers Without Borders.

Read “Meet the New Haven startup that wants to digest your plastic” in CT Insider.

LeAnn Dourte Receives the Provost’s Award for Teaching Excellence by Non-Standing Faculty

by Olivia J. McMahon

LeAnn Dourte
LeAnn Dourte

LeAnn Dourte, Practice Associate Professor in Bioengineering, has been awarded a 2023 Provost’s Award for Teaching Excellence by Non-Standing Faculty.

“This award reflects LeAnn’s innovation and dedication in teaching our students in Bioengineering’s biomechanics, biomaterials and biomechatronics classes and labs,” says Ravi Radhakrishnan, Professor and Chair of Bioengineering. “She is a core member of our teaching faculty, spearheading the Department’s initiatives to improve experiential learning and classroom experiences through the SAIL model of education.”

The Structured, Active, In-Class Learning (or SAIL) model of education emphasizes teamwork and dynamic problem-solving. According to Penn’s Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL), SAIL “provides students with the opportunity to struggle through the application of course ideas and material, often the most difficult part of learning for students, with guidance from instructors as well as help from their peers.”

In addition to her pedagogical interests, Dourte serves on the Bioengineering Climate Committee and is also highly involved in student wellness programming, serving as the Department’s Wellness Ambassador for the School.

The Provost’s Awards for Teaching Excellence by Non-Standing Faculty were established in 1988.

Read “Two Penn Engineers Receive 2023 Provost’s Teaching Awards” in Penn Engineering Today.

Read more stories featuring LeAnn Dourte.

Sharon Kuo Receives Inaugural Madison ‘Maddie’ Magee Award for Undergraduate Excellence

Sharon Kuo
Sharon Kuo

Sharon Kuo, a graduating senior in Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics (MEAM), is the inaugural recipient of the Madison “Maddie” Magee Award for Undergraduate Excellence.

Kuo, who is also minoring in Mathematics, comes to Penn from Taipei, Taiwan. Her interests within her major include mechanical design and product design, and she is passionate about space exploration and advancing human spaceflight.

This award will continue to be presented each year to a Penn Engineering senior who best exemplifies the energy, enthusiasm and excellence that was Maddie.

Read the full story in Penn Engineering Today.

The award for Undergraduate Excellence was established in honor of Madison “Maddie” N. Magee, who graduated with both a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics (MEAM) and a master’s degree in Bioengineering (BE) in 2021. Maddie passed away while hiking the Pacific Crest Trail on May 28, 2022. Read more about this award here.

Novel Tools for the Treatment and Diagnosis of Epilepsy

by Nathi Magubane

A neurologist examines an encephalogram of a patient’s brain.
Throughout his career, Brian Litt has fabricated tools that support international collaboration, produced findings that have led to significant breakthroughs, and mentored the next generation of researchers tackling neurological disorders. (Image: iStock Photo/Alona Siniehina)

When Brian Litt of the Perelman School of Medicine and School of Engineering and Applied Science began treating patients as a neurologist, he found that the therapies and treatments for epilepsy were mostly reliant on traditional pharmacological interventions, which had limited success in changing the course of the disease.

People with epilepsy are often prescribed anti-seizure medications, and, while they are effective for many, about 30% of patients still continue to experience seizures. Litt sought new ways to offer patients better treatment options by investigating a class of devices that electronically stimulate cells in the brain to modulate activity known as neurostimulation devices.

Litt’s research on implantable neurostimulation devices has led to significant breakthroughs in the technology and has broadened scientists’ understanding of the brain. This work started not long after he came to Penn in 2002 with licensing algorithms to help drive a groundbreaking device by NeuroPace, the first closed-loop, responsive neurostimulator to treat epilepsy.

Building on this work, Litt noted in 2011 how the implantable neurostimulation devices being used at the time had rigid wires that didn’t conform to the brain’s surface, and he received support from CURE Epilepsy to accelerate the development of newer, flexible wires to monitor and stimulate the brain.

“CURE is one of the epilepsy community’s most influential funding organizations,” Litt says. “Their support for my lab has been incredibly helpful in enabling the cutting-edge research that we hope will change epilepsy care for our patients.”

Read the full story in Penn Today.

Brian Litt is a Professor in Bioengineering and Neurology.

Flavia Vitale is an Assistant Professor in Neurology with a secondary appointment in Bioengineering.

Jonathan Viventi is an Assistant Professor in Biomedical Engineering at Duke University.