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Innovations in Imaging

Summer 2020 Virtual Internship


BME Alliance Student Design Challenge Winners

More than 500 undergrads participate in project
as part of the Virtual Summer Internship


The competition closed August 28, 12:00 pm EST with nearly 60,000 views of the
video pitches worldwide. Thank you to all that participated!


First Place: Unforgettable Mask  |  Group 12  |  911 Likes


Second Place: The Perfect DIY COVID Mask  |  Group 4  |  840 Likes


Third Place: BamboGuard  |  Group 81  |  835 Likes



View all videos

The Biomedical Engineering Alliance between Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland Clinic has debuted 4-minute pitch videos created by more than 120 teams of engineering students as part of the Virtual Summer Internship. Approximately 500 engineering undergrads from top universities around the world participated in the 10-week program, which culminated in a small group-based design challenge to develop, design and test a solution to address the need for enhanced use of personal protective equipment (PPE) – particularly on college campuses – to help mitigate the coronavirus pandemic.

The Biomedical Engineering Alliance created the Virtual Summer Internship in late spring when it became apparent that the COVID-19 pandemic was going to derail the summer plans for most university students. “We were getting contacted regularly by BME students who had lost their summer internships and were looking for some way to replace them,” says Steve Fening, associate professor of biomedical engineering at Case Western Reserve University and director of the Case-Coulter Translational Research Partnership. “We sought to provide a non-traditional academic experience for students – not exactly like an internship in a company, but different than a typical classroom.”

The summer experience featured live one-hour online sessions led several times a week by professors, researchers, professional staff, entrepreneurs and others on a host of topics related to biomedical engineering careers, research and technology. At the heart of the Summer Virtual Internship was the design challenge spearheaded by Matthew Williams, an assistant professor of biomedical engineering at Case Western Reserve University.

“The mask-oriented project is both personal and topical for students,” says Williams. “I am rather impressed by the thinking, overall curiosity and creativity expressed by the students.” To help students work through the design process, he led weekly one-hour live seminars on all facets of engineering design, from brainstorming and assessing user needs to creating a business model and testing prototypes. 

Williams also counseled many of the teams, each of which include three to five students, as they worked on solutions. These include physical masks, as well as innovations such as a rapid mask sterilizing system and interactive, web-based training courses to help students understand the role mask-wearing plays in stopping the spread of COVID-19 and what they can do to facilitate mask-wearing on campus.

Participants in the Virtual Summer Internship were energized by working on the summer-long design challenge. “It was very exciting to work on a project that has a direct application to the current crisis in our world, where we are able to see the potential benefits and positive outcomes our product could provide,” says Alexis Porco, a fourth-year biomedical engineering student at the University of Virginia.
As the 2020 Virtual Summer Internship comes to a close, organizers from the BME Alliance are grateful they were able to provide undergrads an opportunity to participate in a real-world design project and foster passion in students for engineering design. “The bread and butter of the BME Alliance are students,” says Robin Crotty, department manager and supervisor of BME education in the Biomedical Engineering Department of Cleveland Clinic’s Lerner Research Institute. “We knew these students had great summer opportunities lined up that, through no fault of their own, weren’t happening anymore. To help these students achieve something this summer was so important to us.”

Starting today, all of the teams will compete in a 2-week virtual pitch completion. All 4-minute pitches are available for viewing here:

You can participate now by “liking” your favorite videos.
Those with the most “likes” will win the competition.





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