Research & Development in Action: Biomedical Engineering Students Collaborate with Medtronic on a New Way to Test Surgical Staplers
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Research & Development in Action: Biomedical Engineering Students Collaborate with Medtronic on a New Way to Test Surgical Staplers

medtronic seniors

Three biomedical engineering students had the opportunity to immerse themselves in a research and development (R&D) project in collaboration with Medtronic, one of the largest U.S. standalone medical device makers.

Philip Napoli ’19, Matthew Bernocco ’18, and Denis Kelolli ’18 worked closely with the company’s researchers and engineers to propose a more compact and cost-effective way to test surgical staplers. They were members of Medtronic’s Senior Design Program, a learning platform that allows Connecticut’s college students to work alongside professionals to solve problems, improve processes, and participate in creating new products.

“The University of Hartford was one of the colleges we reached out to because we wanted to tap into the state’s brightest young minds,” says Medtronic Project Analyst Roxanne Gil. “It’s a mutually-beneficial relationship where we can provide students with project experience in exchange for their fresh perspectives and creativity.” The students were assigned a mentor last fall and were welcomed onto the Medtronic North Haven “campus” throughout the academic year to meet with the R&D and Quality Assurance departments.

“The main reason our project was well-received is because we were able to run our initial ideas past Medtronic’s engineers and project managers who guided us and gave us feedback,” says Phil. Once their design was approved, the team moved forward with researching and acquiring the different components to put a stapler-testing prototype together.

“Our task was to create a smaller, software-based device that could test a stapler’s endurance by mimicking the many different levels of force that can occur when a surgical stapler is used on the human body,” explains Matthew. “The cost saving aspect,“ shares Denis, “is that our device allows for testing the staplers without wasting as many staple reloads.”

This year, Medtronic hosted a closing breakfast for all participants, inviting their directors to sit in on the students’ formal presentations.

“The opportunity for our students to work with an external project sponsor is invaluable,” says Assistant Professor of Civil and Biomedical Engineering Mary (Cater) Arico. “Their senior design project was much more closely related to a “real-life” design project, with more feedback, changes, and re-designs along the way,” she says. “In the end, the students successfully met the challenge, and developed great network connections for the future.”

The Medtronic project was part of a two-course sequence: Biomedical Engineering Senior Design (BE 460 and BE 461).