A kidney cooler, developed in the 2011 Precision Machine Design class, can be used to cool a kidney with ice slush during minimally invasive partial nephrectomies. This enables longer working times during operations. (Source: Nevan C. Hanumara, MIT)
I found this story really interesting to cover, and think this model should be replicated and promoted so more of these devices make it to the commercial market. What better than to hear directly from physicians about what they need to do their job, and get some of the best and brightest minds to develop them in collaboration? This could help get some of the most useful tools into the medical field as efficiently as possible.
I'm glad you covered this design program in your article. This need-driven project approach as a class structure teaches students so much more about real-world experiences that await them post-university than the traditional classroom approach can.
And while there are similar programs at other universities, these programs as a whole are in the minority when it comes to the teaching of engineering and design.
Thank you, CLMcDade. I completely agree with you. I think this is the way forward to get innovations out into the commercial market and best prepare new engineers for their professional careers as well. I really enjoyed covering this topic, and appreciate your interest in it.
I know, Cabe, I can't imagine some of these things being used on patients...but hopefully they would be under anesthesia during the process! The thing is, I think there is more medical innovation than we think and I've written about some cool stuff lately...I think it's just difficult to get it out into the commercial market because of regulations and other hurdles to actual adoption. The minds and the technology are there, it's just seeing it make it to what has become a commoditized and politicized medical industry. And in my mind, it's one of the most important fields for innovation.
@Cabe: Huh? R&D spending on healthcare is much larger than R&D spending on smartphones. U.S. healthcare and life science companies spent $182 billion on R&D in 2012. That's not even counting government spending on healthcare R&D. That's just private sector spending.
Apple spent $3.4 billion on R&D in 2012, and smartphones are only part of that. Add in Microsoft ($9.8 billion) and Google ($5.2 billion), and that's still less than a tenth of healthcare R&D.
In the U.S., we spend nearly 18% of GDP ($8233 per person per year) on healthcare. I don't know about you, but I wouldn't spend that much on a smartphone.
I couldn't agree more, CLMcDade. I like the idea that "everybody in the class has to be able to do the math, the analysis, the real dimension drwaings." It's nice to know that there's such practical application of knowledge outside the realm of the senior design project.
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