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Olin Students Tackle the Grand Challenges

Since 2008, the Grand Challenge Scholars Program has celebrated students who work to solve the great challenges of our time, such as advancing health care and making green energy economical and accessible. At Olin College, student entrepreneurship, service learning, and the an education based in critical thinking and global awareness prepares students for these challenges. This year, two Oliner completed a reflective portfolio which tied together everything they accomplished at Olin and earned the honor of becoming GCSP scholars.

Shreya Rangarajan ’18

Shreya Rangarajan became involved in the Grand Challenge Scholars’ Program this spring, but her project is almost two years in the making. Cura, a sleeve with integrated Flex sensors and EMG sensors to track knee rotation and muscle activation was designed during the Integrated Product Design class in 2016.

“I worked with students from Babson College and MassArt.” Rangarajan said. “My team and I pivoted a lot until we came up with Cura physical therapy device to help patients with severe knee injuries like ACL, MCL tears undergo rehab with their Physical therapist.”

This information is sent to the patient's phone app as well as the physical therapist's web app to track patient progress over time and make sure that patients are completing exercises as well as completing them with correct form. Rangarajan and her team interviewed a lot of different people and found a commonality between the groups of people – for example, not doing PT exercises effectively. “Thus, we decided that this would be a great space for a product like Cura.”

Rangarajan added, “I am interested in GCSP because it gives me a chance to showcase the work that I have been doing in the Health space. In addition, GCSP provides a lot of resources that will help me further current projects as well as come up with new projects to make a difference in a world.”

Rangarajan will present the research on her own at the GCSP conference. She is hoping to “receive feedback that will help me further my project or potentially work with people at the conference to make this product a reality.”

Liani Lye ‘17

Liani Lye is hands-on in her Grand Challenge Scholars project, but her work will have global effects. At this year’s GSCP conference, Lye is showcasing Otter, her senior capstone and a part of ADE's Global Health track.  Otter, a neonatal medical device, is a warmth-providing bassinet that offers a sterile, warm, and easy-to-maintain environment to neonatal intensive care units in developing countries at a very affordable price - $300 versus GE's Lullaby, the $10K standard of care.  The primary use is with phototherapy for jaundice (a common neonatal condition), which requires delicate and susceptible infants to be naked to receive the most efficient phototherapy treatment.  “In the fall semester, I was the hardware lead in a team of seven.  In the spring, I was the project manager in a team of nine.” Lye says. During each semester, the teams consisted of Babson and Wellesley students in addition to Oliners. “We've been tasked to improve and prototype Otter, evolving early-stage technical proof-of-concept to a manufacture-ready design for clinical evaluations.  The ADE team would be responsible for design-for-manufacture, med device certification documentation, and identifying/testing distribution channels – among other responsibilities.”

Otter is the warming bassinet for unstable and vulnerable infants, helping newborns survive that critical first month, especially in cold, mountainous regions in Vietnam. As the only warming bassinet currently in development, Otter would target low-resource, low-income hospitals with its affordable cost, beginning with Vietnam and expanding throughout South-East Asia. Otter allows for warming while newborns receive other critical treatments. “We are already positioned for distribution to over 22 countries, all of whom have requested this warming feature. We are hopeful medical certification for the project will be issued by September 2019."