Cataract Surgical Instrument Wins Capstone Design Expo

A team of biomedical engineering and mechanical engineering seniors who developed a surgical instrument that performs the most difficult step of cataract surgery won first prize at this fall’s Mechanical Engineering Capstone Design Expo on Dec. 9 at Georgia Tech.

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Sanditation is a mechanical engineering team who developed the Voyager Vacuum, a modular, underwater vacuum and filtration system for the Georgia Aquarium Voyager Tank. The team tied with MammoSpan for second plan at the fall 2010 ME Capstone Design Expo. 

Seniors Jorge Baro, Kanitha Kim, Rebeca Bowden, Chris Giardina, Khaled Kashlan and Shane Saunders developed the AutoRexis, a surgical instrument that aims to make cataract surgery safer and more cost effective.

Age-related cataracts are protein accumulations in the lens of the eye, clouding vision. During cataract removal surgery, an ophthalmologist gains access to the cataract through capsulorhexis, a time-consuming and difficult process using surgical tweezers to make a circular incision in an internal membrane of the eye.

The AutoRexis has rotating dual-arc blades that can improve consistency in capsulorhexis size, circularity, centering and time to completion when compared to existing products, the team said. The group will be competing in this year’s InVenture Prize Competition in order to secure funds to continue the project. 

Held every fall and spring semester by the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering, the Capstone Design Expo celebrates the creativity and hard work of seniors on open-ended problems through research, analysis and prototyping of a design or prototype. More than 40 projects developed by student teams were displayed at the Expo.

Second place was a tie between two teams, MammoSpan and Sanditation.

MammoSpan – made of the biomedical engineering seniors Katherine Baker, Amy Cheben, Nathan Hibbs, Megan Richards, Jenny Taylor and Michael Zhao – designed a safer breast tissue expansion system for breast reconstruction following a mastectomy.

Sanditation, a mechanical engineering team of seniors Chris Beebe, Chris Blackburn, Ross Butler, Chris Van Buren, David Hickman and Jason Hillman, also won second place. They developed the Voyager Vacuum, a modular, underwater vacuum and filtration system for the Georgia Aquarium Voyager Tank. 

Third place was awarded to the Small Red Tile team, made up of industrial design and mechanical engineering students Jordan Edwards, Isaac Lockman, Khua Nguyen, Marc-Antoine Pare, Jimmy Vo and William Wilson. The group designed an inexpensive and easy to use stove that turns rice husk into clean and safe cooking heat for use in rural Nicaragua.