The UTA student team that recently received a patent for a smart bandage type of device it designed several years ago as part of the team's senior design project. Pictured from left are: Andrew Patin, Kyle Godfrey, Letia Blanco, Christopher Bryan Alberts and Christopher Grace. All graduated with degrees in engineering.
Arlington, Texas – Two faculty advisers – Engineering Professors Panos Shiakolas and Pranesh Aswath – advised and guided a student team, led by Letia Blanco, about five years ago in designing and building a smart bandage. It allowed more efficient healing of wounds and delivery of multiple drugs on their own time schedules to the wound, but Blanco wasn’t sure what would become of it.
That design team now has a patent on their invention, Controlled Release Nanoparticulate Matter Delivery System.
“Our goal was to protect the wound and increase infection control,” says Blanco, who is a lead engineer at Raytheon, after graduating from UTA with a degree in mechanical and aerospace engineering. “Raytheon teamed up with UTA to secure the patent. It’s very exciting.”
Blanco led the team that senior year in 2010 of senior undergraduate mechanical engineering students. Also on the team were: Christopher Alberts, Kyle Godfrey, Andrew Patin, and Chris Grace. Panos Shiakolas, UTA associate professor in the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department; and Pranesh Aswath, UTA professor in the Materials Science and Engineering Department and vice provost for academic planning and policy, advised and guided the team.
In addition, the team presented its findings through a refereed conference paper at the 2012 American Society of Mechanical Engineers Winter Annual Meeting conference and at a 2011 Biomedical Engineering Conference. More than half a million people in the United States seek medical treatment for burns every year and 40,000 of those have injuries severe enough to require hospitalization. In addition to the millions who suffer from burns, Blanco said the project appealed to the team because it had the ability to help soldiers in the field.
“Many times, soldiers’ dressings would have to be applied over and over again because health care providers would have to apply medicine,” Blanco says. “Every time they had to do that, they had to undress and redress the wound. That process of changing the dressings was more dangerous than the technology we designed and developed.”
The device the student team designed increases the amount of time between dressing changes in two ways. First, a hydrogel is used to control the wound’s temperature and that enables better, controlled drug delivery. Second, the device consists of many separate modules, which are connected by a flexible plastic allowing the bandage to comfortably conform to any wound. A lateral wiring scheme allows for bandage size customizing. Removable medicine trays allow used hydrogel to be removed and the electrical components sterilized, then recharged and reused.
The team showed in its research that the device could be a profitable product that would reduce infections, ease patient discomfort, shorten hospital stays, lower medical costs and save lives.
Just for the record, this is Patent No. 9,522,241 and was issued on Dec. 20, 2016. The entry also won the only award given out in 2011for the prestigious American Society for Materials International Undergraduate Design Competition. In addition, the students presented the findings at a 2012 ASME conference.
Aswath, one of the senior design project’s advisers, said the project shows the value of undergraduate research.
“This is just one example of outstanding work done by our undergraduate students who can compete at the highest level and win competitions and get patents awarded,” Aswath says. “They are all now successful in their careers and we are still in touch with the lead of the team, Letia Blanco, who is a rising star at Raytheon.”
Aswath says the patent embodies UTA’s theme of health and the human condition within the University’s Strategic Plan Bold Solutions | Global Impact.
Shiakolas said the team-based research experience the students received will serve them well in their professional careers. He said the University is working with Blanco and Raytheon to explore possible funding sources for further research and eventually commercializing the product.
Source: The University of Texas at Arlington