Harnessing the Brain Power of Interns

It’s been another successful summer for our Engineering Internship Program at Jump. This is the 4th year we’ve invited engineering students from all over the country to apply for this prestigious, competitive program where participants receive the mentorship and experience necessary to design, prototype and ultimately bring to market ideas for healthcare simulators and other devices.

25 students were accepted into this year’s cohort, but not all of them were engineering-focused. Two medical and four industrial design students were also included into the mix. This expands on the work already taking place at Jump that encourages collaboration between different disciplines to solve healthcare problems.

Dikshant Pradhan Working on Orthopedic TrainerA majority of interns worked in dedicated teams of 3 or 4, focusing on a specific project as directed by the full-time engineering staff. Another team was tasked with coming up with its own product ideas that could be continued and advanced through Jump Simulation.

We were impressed with what this year’s interns were able to achieve.

Building Prototypes

Full-time engineering staff at Jump identify inefficient areas of training, conduct a market analysis of existing solutions, and consult with subject matter experts from OSF HealthCare to develop ideas for simulators. Many of our interns spent the summer working to turn those ideas into functioning prototypes. One is focused on training orthopedic surgeons, emergency medical services and emergency department physicians to treat dislocations. Another simulator will give nurses the opportunity to practice vascular access procedures.

Our engineering interns also worked on prototypes for devices to improve healthcare delivery. The so-called “Remote Neurological Examination System” allows patients with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) to be examined by a specialist from the comfort of their home or a rural physician’s office. This is beneficial for patients who are further along in their disease and can’t easily leave their homes. The portable, easy to use, force-sensitive knee brace works in conjunction with a Microsoft Kinect-like room-sensing camera to ensure patients are correctly performing the movements required in the neurological exam. The device instructs patients how to perform the components of the exam correctly, independent of a physician. It then quantitatively describes their performance to a physician.

Another idea for a prototype was borne out of a new program launched through Jump Sim that encourages nurses to submit descriptions of ongoing issues they face along with potential solutions. Two nurses submitted a project idea to improve patient safety. Our engineering interns partnered with the nurses to create a sensor that triggers a small light source under hospital beds when patients get out of bed at night. The device is expected to prevent patient falls.

The quality of this year’s prototypes was higher than in any year past and multiple projects will be continued by the full-time engineering staff. Beyond that, there’s chance the work behind the Vascular Access Trainer will be showcased at a biomedical engineering symposium.  The Remote Neurological Examination System group applied for a grant to continue advancing its device through the Prize4Life organization.

Clinical Immersion Internship 

We launched the Clinical Immersion Internship program this year as a result of a pilot program we started last summer where three engineering students were integrated into the clinical environment. The idea was for the team to observe and interview physicians, nurses, technologists and specialists throughout OSF to glean ideas for healthcare simulators and devices. The interns involved came up with 12 potential projects.

This year, the program received the backing of the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Peoria, OSF HealthCare, Jump Simulation, the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign College of Engineering, and SIMnext, a Peoria-based private medical simulation firm. The team was also expanded to include not just four engineering students, but two medical students from UICOMP as well.

Build Team assists orthopedic dislocation trainer teamThe team of six spent 10 weeks immersed with professional clinical teams through OSF and proposed more than 20 ideas for medical simulators and devices.  The team was also responsible for vetting their concepts, developing business cases in support of them and working with a “build team” to establish prototypes. Many of the proposed projects will be further developed by our full-time staff.

The interns in this new program received a lot of clinical, translational and technical experience as well as a strong understanding of taking something from the bench to bedside. We expect the Clinical Immersion Internship project to help foster a strong relationship between the engineering program and medical school, and to provide a conduit for healthcare professionals to get their ideas out.

A Unique Experience For Interns

The Engineering Internship Program at Jump gives students an opportunity to get extensive experience with product design. They are taught the importance of interviewing subject matter experts to identify key user requirements for a product and translate them into a functioning prototype. They are able to utilize prototyping facilities and equipment to generate iterations for rapid review. Our interns also receive insights into specific aspects of product and professional development from professionals with experience in this market.

Next year we expect to more fully integrate full-time engineering staff members into the student teams with the intention of producing more refined prototypes at the end of the summer. Full-time staff has previously served in more of an advisory role. Further, we intend to make our instructional lecture series more robust including adding more technical lectures related to the projects we take on next year. We also hope to explore more of the collaborative opportunities available to us through our cohabitation of the OSF Innovation space at Jump by communicating more frequently with members of HealthCare Analytics and Performance Improvement specifically.

This internship program continues to evolve and we look forward to improving processes to make it an even better experience for engineering students.

Categories: 3D Printing, Bioengineering, Careers, Clinical Environment, Engineering, Health Care Engineering Systems Center (HCESC), Innovation, Internships