Pitt | Swanson Engineering

The Department of Bioengineering combines hands-on experience with the solid fundamentals that students need to advance themselves in research, medicine, and industry. The Department has a long-standing and unique relationship with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and other academic departments at the University of Pittsburgh as well as neighboring Carnegie Mellon University. Our faculty are shared with these organizations, offering our graduate and undergraduate students access to state-of-the-art facilities and a wide array of research opportunities. We currently have 187 graduate students who are advised by some 100 different faculty advisers, pursuing graduate research across 17 Departments and five Schools. Our undergraduate class-size of approximately 50 students per year ensures close student-faculty interactions in the classroom and the laboratory.

The main engineering building is located next to the Medical Center in Oakland, an elegant university neighborhood with museums, parks, and great restaurants. Beautiful new facilities have also been built, a short shuttle ride from the main campus, along the Monongahela River, replacing the steel mills that once were there. Our department is growing rapidly, both in numbers of students and faculty, and in the funding and diversity of our research. The Pittsburgh bioengineering community is a vibrant and stimulating alliance of diverse components for which our department forms an essential and central connection.

Dec
11
2019

National Academy of Inventors elects William J. Federspiel as Fellow

Bioengineering, Chemical & Petroleum

PITTSBURGH (Dec. 11, 2019) … With 12 issued U.S. patents in the medical device industry and five more pending, University of Pittsburgh Professor William J. Federspiel is among 168 distinguished academic inventors to be named a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI), the organization announced on December 3, 2019. Federspiel, the John A. Swanson Professor of Bioengineering in the Swanson School of Engineering, directs the Medical Devices Lab in the McGowan Institute of Regenerative Medicine. His lab primarily develops much needed clinical devices for the treatment of lung failure, including most recently, compact wearable artificial lungs for adults and children suffering from acute and chronic lung disease. “I am honored and humbled to be named a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors,” he said. “Our work in the lab and its translation into the clinic has demonstrated that critical care patients can be treated with the innovative medical devices that we have invented. This honor would not have been possible without the help of an outstanding team of bioengineers over the years and my long-time designer and fabricator, Brian Frankowski. We continually improve upon our technology so that we can best address the needs of critical care patients with pulmonary disease.” Federspiel’s research in artificial lung technology eventually led him to co-found ALung Technologies, a Pittsburgh-based medical device startup company that develops technology for treating respiratory failure. He serves as head of the scientific advisory board for the company, which is currently undergoing clinical trials for their Hemolung® Respiratory Assist System (RAS), a dialysis-like alternative for or supplement to mechanical ventilation which removes carbon dioxide directly from the blood in patients with acute respiratory failure. The Hemolung RAS originated in the Federspiel lab and has already helped more than 500 patients. The demonstrated worldwide need for the Hemolung is over one million patients per year. “I am proud to have Bill as part of our bioengineering faculty,” said Sanjeev G. Shroff, distinguished professor and Gerald E. McGinnis Chair of Bioengineering at Pitt. “His long-standing interest in and commitment to developing novel respiratory support devices has culminated in technology that has saved the lives of critically ill patients, and his innovations will continue to impact the medical community for many years to come. He is most deserving of this prestigious recognition.” In addition to his U.S. patents, Federspiel has 60 foreign patents issued and pending, and eight completed licenses. He has published over 120 peer reviewed journal articles, prepared nine books/book chapters, and serves as an editorial board member for three journals. He is also an elected Fellow of several prestigious professional organizations such as the Biomedical Engineering Society, the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering, and the American Society for Artificial Internal Organs. The NAI Fellows Program highlights academic inventors who have demonstrated a spirit of innovation in creating or facilitating outstanding inventions that have made a tangible impact on quality of life, economic development and the welfare of society. Election to NAI Fellow is the highest professional distinction accorded solely to academic inventors. To date, NAI Fellows hold more than 41,500 issued U.S. patents, which have generated over 11,000 licensed technologies and companies, and created more than 36 million jobs. In addition, over $1.6 trillion in revenue has been generated based on NAI Fellow discoveries. Rob Rutenbar, senior vice chancellor for research, was also recently elected fellow for the National Academy of Inventors. He pioneered the first set of practical computer tools for nondigital integrated circuit design and commercialized these via his startup, Neolinear, Inc. Acquired in 2004, the Neolinear team is today the nucleus of Cadence Design Systems’ large Pittsburgh research and development site. He also pioneered novel computer architectures for high-speed speech recognition, which is today available commercially from his startup Voci Technologies, Inc. Voci, located in Pittsburgh’s Strip District, currently delivers the world’s fastest appliances for enterprise voice analytics, helping a wide range of companies listen to their customers and translate these conversations into useful business intelligence. Rutenbar, who has secondary faculty appointments in computer science and electrical and computer engineering, holds 14 U.S. patents, has started two companies and has created more than 100 jobs. He has published almost 200 papers in elite journal and conference venues and has been cited nearly 11,000 times, according to Google Scholar. The complete list of NAI Fellows is available on the NAI website. About the National Academy of Inventors The National Academy of Inventors is a member organization comprising U.S. and international universities, and governmental and non-profit research institutes, with over 4,000 individual inventor members and Fellows spanning more than 250 institutions worldwide. It was founded in 2010 to recognize and encourage inventors with patents issued from the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), enhance the visibility of academic technology and innovation, encourage the disclosure of intellectual property, educate and mentor innovative students, and translate the inventions of its members to benefit society. The NAI has a close collaborative relationship with the USPTO and is one of three honorific organizations, along with the National Medals and National Inventors Hall of Fame, working closely with the USPTO on many discovery and innovation support initiatives. The NAI publishes the multidisciplinary journal, Technology and Innovation. www.academyofinventors.org

Dec
10
2019

The Swanson School’s Fall 2019 Design Expo Showcases Creativity in Engineering

All SSoE News, Bioengineering, Chemical & Petroleum, Civil & Environmental, Electrical & Computer, Industrial, MEMS, Student Profiles

PITTSBURGH (Dec. 10, 2019) … Twice each year, students from the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering gather at Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall to showcase their innovations at the Design Expo. Student teams use this opportunity to present research from their Capstone Design courses or highlight concepts and prototypes from the School’s Product Realization and Art of Making courses. More than 75 student projects were exhibited at the event on Dec. 5, 2019. This year’s Expo aligns with Pitt’s Year of Creativity, which highlights a unifying feature across all University departments - creativity is required not only in artistic endeavors but also for identifying inventive ways to solve real-world problems. The Design Expo highlights how creativity and innovation in engineering can impact the lives of others. Judges from industry selected the best project from each of the participating courses, and attendees casted votes for the "People's Choice" Award. New this year - as part of the Year of Creativity - a prize will be awarded for the most creative project. “The Design Expo is the Swanson School’s signature competition that shines a light on our students’ high-level academic performance and ingenuity,” said Mary Besterfield-Sacre, Nickolas A. Dececco Professor of Industrial Engineering and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. “Our winners have truly demonstrated their engineering abilities. I am always impressed with the quality of work that I see at this event, and I look forward to what the future holds for this year’s winning innovations.” OVERALL WINNERS Best Overall Project AOM-3: TupperWhere: A Compact Sustainable Food ContainerJamie BarishmanJosh LneBridget MoyerBobby Rouse People’s Choice Award AOM-1: It’s Your Turn: Empowering People with Fine-Motor DisabilitiesNatasha GilbertMaureen HartMadison HenkelmanShirley JiangSydney LeonardDanielle Wu Year of Creativity Award AOM-3: TupperWhere: A Compact Sustainable Food ContainerJamie BarishmanJosh LneBridget MoyerBobby Rouse DEPARTMENT WINNERS 1st Place Bioengineering BIO-6: Post-Partum Hemorrhage TrainerTyler BrayJessica BrownMarlo GarrisonMaddie HobbsAlly McDonaldJake Meadows 2nd Place Bioengineering BIO-7: Patient Specific Endovascular TrainerDaniella Carter (Nursing)Elliott HammersleyMaddie JohnsonSara KenesLiam MartinCeline Rivera (Nursing)Cassie Smith 3rd Place Bioengineering BIO-3: Nurse-Assistive Patient Rotation Mechanism for Pressure Sore ExaminationPatrick BohseJordan Cobb (Nursing)Julie ConstantinescuChristy HeislerHaiden McDonald 1st Place Civil and Environmental Engineering CEE-5: PWSA - ClearwellTristan AbrahamTimothy ChebuskeAndrew DawsonRachel FayChristina RogersMason Unger 2nd Place Civil and Environmental Engineering CEE-1: Pittsburgh International Airport - New BuildingSeth AppelCole BurdenAdam ChidiacLiam StubanasMark Vrabel 1st Place Electrical and Computer Engineering ECE-4: Electric Vehicle to Grid: Microgrid IntegrationNate CarnovaleAqilah Mahmud ZuhriElizabeth RagerSeth SoStephen Wilson 2nd Place Electrical and Computer Engineering ECE-5: LUMINBen BirkettAustin ChampionChristopher EngelJared LinBrian McMinn 3rd Place Electrical and Computer Engineering ECE-6: ParkITJustin AndersonBen HarrisParker MaySam PetersonRob Schwartz 1st Place Industrial Engineering IE-3: GraneRx Performance DashboardAdvisor: Caroline KolmanMarlee BrownSean CallaghanAlex HartmanAdam Sneath 2nd Place Industrial Engineering IE-7: Tiered Approach for Increasing Inventory Accuracy of Raw Materials at AccuTrexAdvisor: Jayent RajgopalZach DissenMaiti KeenDina PerlicJenna RudolphConnor Wurst 1st Place Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science MEMS-1: Hockey Skate Laces Tension Retaining Device and Adaptation for Use with Athletic ShoesAdvisor: Brad Pelkofer – Panther LacesDaniel GunterDavis HerchkoKaylee LevineDavid Maupin 2nd Place Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science MEMS-9: Unripe Fruit Removal System for TomatoHarvesting RobotAdvisor: Mr. Brandon Contino – Four GrowersGabriel FruitmanJames MaierJoshua Pope 3rd Place Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science MEMS-10: Development of a System to Test Anterior Cruciate Ligament FailureAdvisor: Dr. Patrick SmolinskiAustin BussardAlexander HourietSydney LeonardGriffin Monahan 1st Place Product Realization PR-2: Body Camera Range ExtenderAmedeo HirataJoshua LineRyan BarrettTyler Smith 2nd Place Product Realization PR-1: Alarm and Safe IntegrationAlex DziakLindsey LauruneAlex BuonomoGaby Robinson 1st Place Art of Making AOM-3: TupperWhere: A Compact Sustainable Food ContainerJamie BarishmanJosh LneBridget MoyerBobby Rouse 2nd Place Art of Making AOM-1: It’s Your Turn: Empowering People with Fine-Motor DisabilitiesNatasha GilbertMaureen HartMadison HenkelmanShirley JiangSydney LeonardDanielle Wu 1st Place Medical Product Prototyping MPP-3: Acetone BreathalyzerBrinden EltonPhillip Harding 2nd Place Medical Product Prototyping MPP-2: ET3Nikki CwalinaLiam McNamaraBryce Norwood

Dec
6
2019

Bioengineering Undergraduate McKenzie Sicke Announced as Finalist for the George J. Mitchell Scholarship Program

Bioengineering, Student Profiles

PITTSBURGH (December 6, 2019) … The US-Ireland Alliance recently announced the 21st Class of George J. Mitchell Scholars, and among the finalists was McKenzie Sicke, a bioengineering undergraduate at the University of Pittsburgh. The George J. Mitchell Scholarship Program is a national, competitive scholarship that awards one year of postgraduate study in any discipline offered by institutions of higher learning in Ireland and Northern Ireland to up to 12 students annually. A native of upstate New York, Sicke joined the Swanson School of Engineering at Pitt in 2016  and has spent her time studying bioengineering and reaching beyond the classroom to discover how this work can be applied to the real-world. Upon graduation, she hopes to continue her studies and was attracted to Ireland’s medical device design community. She said, “I am driven by the desire to create empathetic healthcare solutions that have a big impact.” Sicke currently works in the lab of Bryan Brown, associate professor of bioengineering, where she studies angiogenic response to polypropylene mesh implants in rabbit models. “Being able to take my project from start to finish over the past year and a half has been an invaluable experience,” she said. “With the help of my research mentor Aimon Iftikhar, I developed protocols and took them through each phase of testing. I’ve learned a lot working with her, and contributing to her thesis work has made me more confident of my place in a lab setting.” She also spent the past summer participating in Pitt’s SERIUS study abroad program at the National University of Singapore where she worked in the SINAPSE Lab on a neurotechnology project focused on nanoparticle-aided stem cell therapy for ischemic stroke. In addition to pursuing her degree and research projects, Sicke has worked as a teaching assistant and peer advisor for freshman engineering students and volunteers as a 3D printing mentor in the bioengineering department’s student-run makerspace. She is also the current publicity chair for the undergraduate chapter of the Biomedical Engineering Society. “This is indeed a magnificent accomplishment. Students like Kenzie are a source of delight to the Department of Bioengineering,” said Arash Mahboobin, assistant professor of bioengineering and director of the undergraduate program. “I always feel fortunate and privileged to have the opportunity to get to know these young individuals and, perhaps, have some influence on their development and progression as professionals and people. I will certainly watch Kenzie’s career develop with great interest and high expectations.” The Mitchell Scholars Program is named in honor of George J. Mitchell, the former United States senator who served as chairman of the peace negotiations in Northern Ireland. Under his leadership the Good Friday Agreement, a historic accord ending decades of conflict, was agreed to by the governments of Ireland and the United Kingdom and the political parties of Northern Ireland. About the US-Ireland Alliance The US-Ireland Alliance is a proactive, non-partisan, non-profit organization dedicated to consolidating existing relations between the United States and the island of Ireland and building that relationship for the future. The organization connects current and emerging Irish and American leaders in various spheres—including education, politics, business and the arts—for the mutual benefit of both countries. ###

Dec
5
2019

Bioengineering Professors Davidson, Federspiel, and Ruder receive Swanson School professorship and fellowship appointments

Bioengineering

PITTSBURGH (Dec. 5, 2019) … In recognition of outstanding productivity as a faculty member, the University of Pittsburgh Department of Bioengineering appointed two faculty professorships and one faculty fellowship in 2019. Lance Davidson was appointed William Kepler Whiteford Professor of Bioengineering, William Federspiel was appointed John A. Swanson Professor of Bioengineering, and Warren Ruder was appointed William Kepler Whiteford Fellow of Bioengineering. “In addition to conducting cutting-edge research, each of these individuals is a dedicated teacher and mentor, which is critical for developing the next generation of knowledge creators and professional practitioners,” said Sanjeev G. Shroff, Distinguished Professor and Gerald E. McGinnis Chair of Bioengineering. “I am very proud to have Lance, Bill, and Warren as a part of our bioengineering family.” Lance Davidson, William Kepler Whiteford Professor of Bioengineering Davidson’s MechMorpho Lab carries out interdisciplinary research at the interface of physics, engineering, mathematics, and cell biology. They study the mechanics of morphogenesis - the central process of tissue self-assembly that couples physical processes that move cells and tissues with the biological processes that give cells their identity, establish tissue architecture and physiological function. Using these tools they have uncovered how mechanics lays out and shapes key germ layers in the embryo that give rise to the central nervous system, how mechanical cues guide cells that form the heart and the cardiovascular system, and how mechanical cues can drive regeneration of skin cells. This work is supported by the United States National Institutes of Health including the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Together with their basic research objectives their long-term engineering objective is to turn the principles of morphogenesis into technology to advance cell and tissue engineering. William Federspiel, John A. Swanson Professor of Bioengineering Federspiel directs the Medical Devices Lab in the McGowan Institute of Regenerative Medicine where researchers develop clinically significant devices for the treatment of pulmonary and cardiovascular ailments by utilizing engineering principles of fluid flow and mass transfer. In particular, Federspiel’s lab have created next-generation artificial lung devices, including portable, wearable devices for adults and children suffering from lung disease. His research in artificial lung technology eventually led Federspiel to co-found ALung Technologies, a Pittsburgh-based medical device startup company that develops technology for treating respiratory failure. He serves as head of the scientific advisory board for the company, which is currently gunning clinical trials for their Hemolung® Respiratory Assist System (RAS), a dialysis-like alternative for or supplement to mechanical ventilation which removes carbon dioxide directly from the blood in patients with acute respiratory failure. Warren C. Ruder, William Kepler Whiteford Fellow and Associate Professor of Bioengineering Ruder directs the Synthetic Biology and Biomimetics laboratory where his team focuses on applying synthetic biology constructs, methods, and paradigms to solve a range of biomedical problems. His group aims to both understand the fundamental biology of natural systems as well as re-engineer these systems with synthetic gene networks. They have expertise in multiple fields including gene network engineering, cell physiology and biomechanics, microfluidics, mechanical engineering and biomaterials. They are currently developing new approaches to embed synthetic gene networks within biomimetic systems that mimic cell, tissue, and organism physiology. Ruder recently received a prestigious $2.2 million NIH Director’s New Innovator Award to develop magnetically activated gene networks in human cells. ###

Dec
2
2019

A New Offensive against Alzheimer’s Disease

Bioengineering

PITTSBURGH (December 02, 2019) … An interdisciplinary team of researchers from the University of Pittsburgh received a $3,720,828 award from the National Institutes of Health to create advanced MRI technology which will allow them to investigate the connection between small vessel disease (SVD), cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) clearance and preclinical Alzheimer’s disease. The group will use a powerful, ultra-high-field 7 Tesla magnetic resonance imager (7T MRI), which was recently approved by the FDA for clinical applications, in conjunction with the next generation Tic Tac Toe radiofrequency (RF) antenna technology developed in Swanson School of Engineering at Pitt. Tamer Ibrahim, professor of bioengineering at Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering, will serve as principal investigator on the grant along with MPIs Howard Aizenstein, Charles F. Reynolds III and Ellen G. Detlefsen Endowed Chair in Geriatric Psychiatry, and Ann Cohen, assistant professor of psychiatry. “Alzheimer’s disease is one of the leading causes of death in the United States so we want to develop advanced imaging techniques that can help researchers better understand the underlying mechanisms relating small vessel disease and Alzheimer’s disease,” said Ibrahim. “We hope that this research will lead to the identification of new prevention and treatment targets for this widespread and debilitating disease.” The project will support the development of the next generation Tic Tac Toe 7T MRI device, a collection of antennas that aim to image the human head and neck at unprecedented temporal and spatial resolutions. Ibrahim runs the Radiofrequency (RF) Research Facility and the 7T Bioengineering Research Program which include experimental and human studies with a whole-body 7T MRI - one of the strongest human MRI devices in the world and a powerful imaging tool that allows researchers to gain a far better understanding of brain structure and function. Amyloid plaque accumulation in the brain has been associated with Alzheimer’s disease so in addition to investigating SVD, this project will also examine the related CSF pulsatility associated with clearance of amyloid from the brain. “CSF travels through the ventricles in the brain where it helps clear amyloid before it is eventually absorbed into the bloodstream and carried away to be filtered by the kidney and liver,” said Ibrahim. “In a study of individuals with preclinical Alzheimer’s disease, researchers found lower levels of amyloid in a sample of CSF collected from the spine, and thus, they have theorized that the fluid isn’t sufficiently clearing amyloid in this population.” Using the stronger magnetic fields in a 7T MRI along with state-of-the-art antenna and MRI technology will allow for imaging at a greater resolution, which could reveal more detailed information about pathways linking SVD and CSF flow pathophysiology to Alzheimer’s disease. “The brain is the body’s most complex organ, and there is still a lot of work that needs to be done to understand how it functions and what can be done to improve the lives of individuals with neurological disorders,” said Ibrahim. This study also includes collaborations with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the University of Minnesota, Quality Electrodynamics Inc., and Montreal Neurological Institute. ###

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