November 1, 2010

‘Intelligent’ surgical drill wins prize for JHU student inventors

An “intelligent” drill developed by Johns Hopkins students to improve orthopedic surgical procedures was awarded third-place honors in the undergraduate division of the 2010 Collegiate Inventors Competition. The team received $2,500 in prize money for its entry, which was among five finalist projects competing Oct. 27 at a Washington, D.C., ceremony.

The students built the prototype while enrolled last year in a two-semester Biomedical Engineering design team course supervised by Robert Allen, an associate research professor. The device can be attached to orthopedic surgical drills to detect sudden changes in drilling speed as well as changes in the tilt and direction of the drill.

The design project was sponsored by Maryland-based Bioactive Surgical, which owns the rights to the drill and is moving toward further development of the technology.

At Wednesday’s awards ceremony, the student team was represented by Leyla Isik, Salina Khushal, Michael Shen and Emilie Yeh, all of whom graduated in May. Other past and present students who participated on the design team were John Thomas, Hyun-Sun Seo, Samrie Beshah, Maher Khalil, Jonathan LeMoel and German Om. The prize money will be shared equally among all 10 team members.

The design course in which the students developed the prototype was offered by the Center for Bioengineering Innovation and Design within the Department of Biomedical Engineering, which is affiliated with both the School of Medicine and Whiting School of Engineering.

The Collegiate Inventors Competition, introduced in 1990 by the Invent Now organization, promotes innovation by recognizing inventors and scientists early in their careers and rewarding students’ pioneering ideas. The competition, sponsored this year by the Abbott Fund, the nonprofit foundation of the global health care company Abbott, and by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, has awarded more than $1 million to students since the program was launched.