01 Jan Wisconsin students perfect breathing device for pediatric surgeries
University of Wisconsin pediatric anesthesiologist Lana Volz found herself in the unenviable positions of having to deal with a cumbersome, unreliable respiration apparatus component, known as a wye, during sensitive surgeries at American Family Children’s Hospital.
Faced with an untenable situation, Volz turned to the Biomedical Engineering (BME) Design program at Wisconsin. During the program design sequence, students in this program are tasked with creating workable solutions to unmet medical needs.
Answering Volz call, several rounds of BME students contributed to design a new wye. This new circuit is more flexible with sturdier joints. It also places less torque on the airway of the patient and allows for more streamlined exchange of respiratory gases. The design team, students Lena Hampson, Sara Jorgenson and Margaret Edman, applied for a provisional patent in 2018, and have formed a company, Wye-Not Medical LLC, to bring their invention to market.
According to John Puccinelli, the associate chair of the undergraduate program in the Department of Biomedical Engineering, the design component of Wisconsin’s degree is unique in the freedom granted to students. While university’s offer a guided design sequence, Wisconsin is the only university to truly let students take the reins of the projects they’re overseeing.
He is also quick to note that Madison is a fertile place for those looking to launch an enterprise, a fact that was not lost on the Wye-Not Medical founders.