Session D: 3:30PM – 5PM

Engineering. Session D – Poster Presentations, Ballroom, Union

SESSION D (3:30-5:00PM)
Location: Ballroom, A. Ray Olpin University Union


Intra-Sensor Variability and the Effects of Carbon Monoxide Concentration, Temperature, and Relative Humidity on Low-Cost Carbon Monoxide Sensors
Evan Blanchard, University of Utah

Faculty Mentor: Kerry Kelly, University of Utah

SESSION D (3:30-5:00PM)

Poor air quality is linked to numerous adverse health effects, including heart attacks and premature death.  Microclimates of poor air quality can occur in areas with concentrated vehicle emissions, such as pickup/drop off zones. Air quality monitoring in these microclimates can provide helpful insight about environmental, health, and safety concerns. However, these monitors can be costly and require specialized training. The purpose of this research is to characterize low-cost sensor performance with an emphasis on identifying emissions from idling vehicles.  Specifically, we examined inter-sensor variability and the effects of temperature and relative humidity on the Alphasense CO-B4 carbon monoxide (CO) sensors. We designed and conducted laboratory testing to analyze each sensor’s response to varying levels of carbon monoxide concentration, as well as atmospherically relevant temperatures and relative humidity levels. We found that there was low inter-sensor variability among twelve sensors. The average R-squared value from our linear regression of all sensors versus a reference measurement of carbon monoxide was 0.933. The average root mean square error (RMSE) was 118,979 microVolts. We also found that the temperature and relative humidity both affected sensor readings (in microVolts) and adding these two parameters improved the linear regression fit of the low-cost CO sensors compared to reference CO measurements. This research shows that we can measure CO concentration relatively accurately at $138 per sensor. Cost effective, accurate air quality measurements can allow individuals, communities, and policy makers to make informed decisions about exposure levels.


Characterization of fluorine-free ski waxes
Lorenz Cushman, University of Utah

Faculty Mentor: Jeffrey Bates, University of Utah

SESSION D (3:30-5:00PM)

Fluorocarbon-based ski waxes are known sources of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, which accumulate in both the human body and watershed during the application and use of many high-performance ski waxes. Fluorine is used to enhance the performance of the ski wax by altering its material properties. This project studies how to scientifically measure waxes’ standard of performance and how this standard can be achieved with sustainable, fluorine free ski wax. By comparing commercial fluorine free waxes, we report which material properties are responsible for ski wax’s performance and how materials characterization techniques can be utilized to quantitatively compare the performance properties of commercial ski waxes. Additionally, we demonstrate how these characterization techniques can be modified to account for the temperature dependence of the wax and its performance in a variety of snow conditions. Finally, we investigate how the addition of colloidal metals can impact the specific material properties of ski wax. Overall, this project will aid industry face the challenge of creating a sustainable, high performance ski wax by introducing quantitative, rather than qualitative, scientific testing and analysis.



Colorimetric Assay for Pneumonia Screening Via the Volatile Organic Breath Biomarker, Heptane
Bailey Doucette, University of Utah

Faculty Mentor: Swomitra Mohanty, University of Utah

SESSION D (3:30-5:00PM)

Pneumonia is the single largest infectious cause of death in children worldwide. Diagnosing pneumonia through a rapid and proactive method would increase the speed at which patients are treated and can recover. Volatile organic biomarkers (VOBs) are present in the breath of patients infected with pneumonia. One such VOB is heptane, which has been proven to be present in the breath of pneumonia patients. Pneumonia is usually diagnosed via chest X-ray, an expensive method of examination. This method of diagnosis is done after patients begin to exhibit symptoms. By engineering an inexpensive device that would detect heptane from the breath in an efficient way through colorimetry, patients could be diagnosed before symptom onset and treatments could start before damage could be done. To confirm the presence of heptane as one of the VOBs associated with pneumonia, staphylococcus aureus was cultured in our laboratory and the released VOBs were measured using GCMS. Heptane is of particular interest as it reacts with water bromine when exposed to UV light in a halogenation reaction. The water bromine loses its characteristic orange-red color during the reaction. Thus, this reaction can detect heptane in patients’ breaths in a point-of-care Pneumonia screening device. Colorimetric methods are used to analyze the concentrations of compounds. The concentration of a colored compound can be determined with a spectrophotometer. Utilizing a blue LED and an OPT101 monolithic photodiode, the concentration over time of water bromine within the water bromine heptane reaction was attained in a spectrophotometer. The engineered spectrophotometer in the initial part of this project was designed to run the heptane water bromine reaction within a cuvette between a blue LED and OPT101 monolithic photodiode. The spectrophotometer was characterized via calibration and used to detect concentration changes from the water bromine and heptane reaction.


Developing Vibrotactile Sensory Feedback for TetraSki Adaptive Sport Equipment
Jeremi Godbout, University of Utah

Faculty Mentor: Monika Buczak, University of Utah

SESSION D (3:30-5:00PM)

The long-term goal of this research is to develop a wearable vibrotactile device to provide individuals with tetraplegia real-time haptic feedback from adaptive sports equipment. Tetraplegia affects 1.4 million Americans, and the number grows by thousands every year [1], [2]. Individuals with tetraplegia currently control adaptive sports equipment, such as an adaptive ski, with a “sip-and-puff” device; breathing into a tube (sipping) command the ski to move left and breathing out (puffing) commands the ski to move right. A key limitation of the “sip-and-puff” controller is that there is no immediate feedback to indicate if the command was registered. Here we present the design and development a wearable vibrotactile array. The vibrotactile array uses six vibrating motors integrated into a wearable fabric that fits around the neck of an individual. Each vibrating motor is a 10-mm-by-2.7-mm disc. The six vibrating motors are arranged with a vertical pair along the spine and two horizontal pairs to the right and left of the spine. The vibrating motors can be controlled wirelessly through a central embedded microcontroller. Tactile feedback can be convey based on which motors are vibrating, or by increasing the intensity of the vibration. Future work will validate this device while the participants are actively skiing with adaptive sports equipment. This wearable vibrotactile feedback could be broadened to other mobility devices such as wheelchairs.
[1]       “Spinal Cord Injury Statistics – – Spine Rehab Stats,” Brain and Spinal Cord. (accessed Oct. 07, 2022).
[2]       “Paralysis statistics,” Reeve Foundation. (accessed Sep. 13, 2022).



Efficient Computation of Grobner Bases for Partial Logic Synthesis of Arithmetic Circuits
Bailey Martin, University of Utah

Faculty Mentor: Priyank Kalla, University of Utah

SESSION D (3:30-5:00PM)

Digital circuits are custom-designed, which increases the likelihood of bugs. Despite efforts taken by engineers, a variety of unforeseen errors can occur. Formal verification is an approach that applies mathematical models and algorithms to prove or disprove that a design works as intended. An alternative to these methods is Symbolic Computer Algebra (SCA), which is a polynomial algebra-based model that can be used for arithmetic circuit verification.  Computing a Grobner Basis utilizing these polynomials for ideal membership testing for verification has been found to work well for arithmetic circuits. Rectification for arithmetic circuits may be able possible by creating a modified Grobner Basis, which will be explored by this project.



Real-Time Hand Pose Reconstruction using Flex Sensors
Mathias Schoen, University of Utah

Faculty Mentor: Edoardo Battaglia, University of Utah

SESSION D (3:30-5:00PM)

The field of Human-Computer Interactions is one which grows in importance each and every year, due to the increasing demand from medical, robotic, and tech industries for more streamlined methods of communicating with computer systems. While a variety of research and proposed solutions have gone into the field, this paper will focus on one specific aspect of the discipline: hand pose reconstruction. Many papers published in this field focus on the use of cameras – including depth, RGB, and others – to capture data and reconstruct specific hand poses. While this method has shown a fair level of success, a few prominent issues continue to exist, namely finger occlusion (where certain joints become hidden behind the hand) and the non-ergonomic design of fixed camera systems. In this paper we instead choose to explore a hardware-oriented approach, using a minimal suite of mounted flex sensors to gather data about the current joint angles at specific locations in the hand. Once this glove has been constructed and tested, the gathered data will be fed into a trained deep learning model in the hopes of accurately reconstructing various hand poses from minimal hardware data. Finally, to verify the collected data and results, the reconstructed hand poses will be compared with data acquired from a high-precision motion capture system.



Does Angular Acceleration Provide New Insight into Functional Performance of Athletes?
Vincent Veibell, University of Utah

Faculty Mentor: Peter Fino, University of Utah

SESSION D (3:30-5:00PM)

Returning from Injury: Current return to play (RTP) protocols after concussion assess an athlete’s progress towards full recovery using self-reported symptoms without measurements of on-field performance. There is no consideration of one’s functional performance, in part, because capturing objective measures of functional performance obtained on the field is difficult. The Catapult inertial measurement units (IMUs) system collects on-field kinematics which can be analyzed in external software after collection. However, the commercial system and pre-defined metrics do not quantify all features that are relevant to concussion recovery, such as angular motion. Before applying the system to RTP after concussion, the purpose of the study was to validate the Catapult player load metric, which is focused on linear motion, and construct additional metrics based on angular motion. Methods:  To conduct a preliminary investigation, example Catapult data from one practice was obtained for one athlete. Predefined metrics at 10 Hz and raw IMU data at 100 Hz were extracted. Linear and angular jerk were calculated by taking the first and second derivatives of the acceleration and angular velocity data, respectively. To validate the commercial output of Player Load, the coefficient of determination (R2) compared the cumulative magnitude of linear jerk to Player Load at each instant in time. R2 values compared instantaneous jerk and angular jerk to determine if angular jerk provides additional information. Results: Our calculated linear jerk accurately reflected the Catapult player load metric (R2=1.000).  Linear jerk explained 48.9% of the variance in angular jerk (R2=0.489). Discussion: Measures of linear and angular on-field motion can be captured using commercial systems currently being used in competitive athletics. As over 50% of the variance is not captured by commercial standard input, angular jerk may provide new insight into assessing on-field movements and functional performance. Future work will implement existing linear and new angular metrics to investigate RTP after concussion.



Design, Fabrication, and Optimization of 3D Printed Pressure Sensors
Derrick Wong, University of Utah

Faculty Mentor: Yong Lin Kong, University of Utah

SESSION D (3:30-5:00PM)

Total joint arthroplasty (TJA) remains as the only viable option for many arthritis patients no longer responding to non-surgical treatment. However, failure rates for TJA joint implants as reported by the American Association of Hip and Knee Surgeons have been found to be 5-10% 10 years post-operatively. Common factors for failure include fracturing, implant instability, and biocompatibility concerns. However, there is currently no viable solution for implantable devices that allows for monitoring in vivo. Here we show that wireless pressure sensors can be fabricated using additive manufacturing (3D printing), and that printed sensors yield a measurable signal in frequency space that may be effectively characterized for future application with implantable devices. To perform this project, we designed sensors using SOLIDWORKs, simulated them to better understand their characteristics, and measured successful prints using a network analyzer for comparison with simulated values. In the span of this project, we performed five design cycles to iteratively optimize the sensor design. Each design involved adjustments to the inherent geometry of the previous design, in which we changed the intrinsic sensor properties to improve sensitivity and the observed frequency range. The findings from our design optimizations provide significant insight into improving the sensing ability of 3D printed pressure sensors, while also serving as a foundation for a finalized design that may be printed and further tested. We anticipate that the integration of 3D printed wireless pressure sensors has potential for future use in internal monitoring and improving clinical outcomes. The use of additive manufacturing for pressure sensors offers significant flexibility in fabrication and design geometry, which may be greatly useful in various biomedical device settings such as the previously mentioned implantable devices for joints.



A Biodegradable and Conductive Ink as the Basis for Transient Electronics
Sammi Yu, University of Utah

Faculty Mentor: Yong Lin Kong, University of Utah

SESSION D (3:30-5:00PM)

The risk of infection from implants is compounded in cases with permanent implants because a second removal surgery is required. With second surgery, unwanted risks and infections are introduced which can then lengthen the hospital stay, increase healthcare costs, and endanger patients’ lives. To address this risk of second surgery infections, transient electronics are a potential solution by mitigating retrieval surgery completely. Transient electronics are defined by the ability to break down into non-toxic elements and dissolve, resorb, or physically disappear in physiological environments in a controlled manner. Many materials have these properties of biodegradability and non-toxicity however, they have not been discovered or synthesized before. Here we show the combination of a polymer called PBTPA and molybdenum (Mo) to create a biodegradable and conductive ink. We determined a synthesis process to mix specific ratios of Mo to PBTPA to optimize the ratio for conductivity and printability. By printing the ink using additive manufacturing, it allows us to create personalized electronics. Future applications of this ink may be used to print sensors that monitor the healing process of joints after surgery.




Development of an accessible electrospinning process for distributed fabrication of high-efficacy masks
Hyunook Kim, Brigham Young University
Paul Walker, Brigham Young University

Faculty Mentor: David Fullwood, Brigham Young University

SESSION D (3:30-5:00PM)

Mask filters are important for the protection of the community in the event of a pandemic or to protect people from pollutants endemic to our major cities. N95 has been the standard for an effective filter in the medical industry, but such masks were not readily available as the COVID 19 pandemic unfolded. Our goal is to develop a filter production method that could be fabricated by a cottage industry, if necessary, using a method designed to be both accessible and inexpensive. Electrospinning is the process of using an electronic force to pull polymers out of solution and make nanofibers. Layering these fibers on top of each other creates membranes that can be used as filters in masks. To develop a robust process based upon this method, we explored the effects of different environmental and process variables on the resultant membrane. Specifically, we study how process parameters can be changed to optimize the membrane’s performance as a filter and thereby create a reliable, replicable process for creating membranes. This study focused on a range of influential process parameters, including the distance of the electrospinning needle from the membrane surface, the needle gauge, the flow rate, and the mass concentration of the solution. The influence of these parameters on the resultant fiber diameter and effective filtration of the membrane was quantified. The results of the study lead to the design of a robust, effective and accessible process for spinning N95-compliant membranes that may benefit communities in all quarters of the world.


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Utah Conference on Undergraduate Research 2023 - Program by Office of Undergraduate Research is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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