2016 CEID Fellows Present Their Final Innovations

Members of the fourth cohort of the Yale School of Engineering & Applied Science's Summer Design Fellowship made their final presentations last week. The 12 students in residence at the Center for Engineering Innovation & Design comprised five teams, each working on a specific project for eight weeks. The Summer Design Fellowship is unique in that student teams are provided the resources to create hardware and software solutions for a specific problem, as opposed to working on previously established research projects. It is the only fellowship specifically designed to assist "makers" at Yale. Here is the first of two articles featuring the five presentations.


Brandon Hudik ’17 presented the progress he made over the summer on his team’s project – a device designed to better perform a common procedure known as central venous catheterization.

For the procedure, a needle is placed through the jugular, subclavian or femoral vein to deliver medicine and blood transfusions to the body. It’s a thick catheter, so a guidewire is required to be placed first. The procedure isn't perfect; complications cost an estimated $4.5 billion to U.S. hospitals each year. And some of the complications can be very serious.

“What happens is that the needles can lose access to the vein or can puncture through the vein to the adjacent artery or even go into the lung,” Hudik said.

Acantha is tackling the problem with their device, Balistra, which allows the user to insert the guidewire with one hand and continuously monitor the location of the needle tip via ultrasound. This reduces the procedure from a two-handed, dynamic, blind process to a one-handed, fully visible, compact one that just requires a few thumb movements.

“With the thumb, you just feed the guidewire to the tip of the syringe. This is all under constant ultrasound visualization, so you never lose sight of the needle,” said Hudik, who founded Acantha with Andres Ornelas-Vargas ’17 and Dr. Jason Chin, an integrated vascular surgery resident at the Yale School of Medicine. 

Over the summer, Hudik refined the device’s prototype with various iterations of the 3D design. Besides improving the movement of the wire, he was able to cut down the amount of material needed, reducing both production time and cost. He also began researching and redesigning the device for injection molding.

Additionally, he tested the device at the Yale Center for Medical Simulation (YCMS), where doctors are trained in placing central lines using the standard technique on a gelatin medical simulation dummy. At the end of training sessions, the doctors performed the same steps with the Acantha device and then compared various metrics.

“I’ve been taking feedback from doctors, residents and physicians and we’ll incorporate it into the 3D design until we get something that we’re really comfortable with,” he said. “I think we’re pretty close. The next step is to take those features and put them into an injection moldable design.”

In the fall, Hudik said, the team hopes to to continue the project through the independent study course MENG 471.

Yale Motors

From their work with Bulldogs Racing, a Yale student club that builds and races formula-style racecars for the Formula-Hybrid Competition, the Yale Motors team found that finding the parts to make a lightweight electric motor and controller can be tricky.

“In our experience, learning about these devices, finding them and actually using them in the car is a challenge – it’s not as easy as going to a store and picking up the first thing you find,” Dante Archangeli ’17 said. Getting the right power-to-weight ratio and the controller, for instance, meant contacting dealers from Slovenia, Germany and other far-flung locales.

“In an ideal world, you would be designing the motor and the controller for that specific vehicle,” Archangeli said. “We want to minimize the time and money that’s spent on trying to come up with the best controller.” Then, teams like Bulldogs Racing could charge ahead and “do what they really want to do which is design their cars and race them.”

Archangeli worked on the motor, Philip Piper ’16, worked on the controller and Betsy Li ’18 was in charge of the dynamometer, used to evaluate the motor and controller. Li said her assignment on the team required some quick study.

“It’s a very dangerous machine, especially if you’re going at very high rates,” she said. Li added that work in the fall will continue with the Bulldogs Racing club, and will include welding the whole system together and getting it running with the motor and controller.

Interest in the project should extend well past their own club, Piper said. They participate in two competitions each year, one with about 30 teams and another with about 40. “And that’s been growing – almost doubling – every year for the past few years,” he said.

Outside of racing clubs, he noted, there are burgeoning markets for electric bike conversions and do-it-yourself cars.

“Those are both within our power range, so we’d like to tap into those markets as well,” Piper said.