Janet Gbur to host three interns

In Summer 2022, Senior Research Associate Janet Gbur will host three interns in Case Western Reserve University’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering: Matthew Fabian, a mechanical engineering student at Youngstown State University; Gabrielle Hyatt, a biomedical engineering student at Binghamton University; and Mitchell Melander, an M.S. student in CWRU’s Department of Biomedical Engineering.

Melander is coming to the department as part of the Cleveland VA Advanced Platform Technology Center’s Wen H. Ko summer internship program. During the Spring 2022 semester, he worked with Gbur on developing techniques for mechanical characterization of substrates and final printed devices on CWRU’s NanoJet Printer. Over the summer, his research in CWRU's Advanced Manufacturing and Reliability Center will focus on the design and mechanical characterization of flexible electronics. He hopes to develop a method for tensile testing on thin polymer films with shorter gauge lengths than the currently specified ASTM lengths. He will also design an additively manufactured peripheral nerve interface lead. With both projects, he hopes to reduce chronic pain in patients and advance neuroprostheses development.

Spending the spring semester working with Gbur expanded Melander’s materials knowledge, and he looks forward to learning more about the field over the summer. Primarily interested in additive manufacturing and orthopedic research, he has been interested in engineering since playing with LEGO sets as a child, and meeting a biomedical engineer on a middle school field trip sparked his interest in that specific field. In May, he graduated from CWRU with his B.S. in Biomedical Engineering and has now started his graduate studies.

Like Melander, Fabian’s passion for engineering was sparked by his childhood love of LEGO sets, leading him to join his high school’s robotics team. As a junior in high school, his team built a robot that won them first place in an engineering competition. “(Being on the robotics team) sparked my engineering brain and made me enjoy solving complex issues even more,” said Fabian, whose favorite part of engineering is “being able to understand a problem or use case and designing something to fit the need.” 

Having taken an engineered materials course from Gbur at Youngstown State, Fabian will spend the summer designing and testing leads and a connector for a 32-channel electrical system for implantable biomedical devices. He will perform mechanical testing on the joint between the lead and the connector and optimize aerosol printing parameters used to print the circuit inside of the connector. "I am excited to find new ways to test our samples, as much of what we are working on has not been done before," he said. “I am incredibly thankful to Dr. Gbur, the VA, the SOM and everyone else at CWRU for this wonderful opportunity to exercise research skills and network with more people in my field.”

Hyatt will be spending the summer in Cleveland for the first time, having heard about the Wen H. Ko program from her aunt who lives in Cleveland. Though Hyatt was not selected as a Wen H. Ko intern, Gbur was still impressed by her resume and reached out about an internship opportunity. “I was ecstatic to hear from her and took the opportunity right away,” said Hyatt. “Every student I reached out to who had previously worked with her had nothing but raving reviews of her and said how great of a learning experience it was.”

While at CWRU, Hyatt will focus on using the nanojet aerosol printer to develop a glove with pressure sensors in the fingertips, building on Paco Sheeran's senior project. She and Gbur hope to print strain gauges into the glove, allowing the glove to provide feedback on how tightly a user is closing their hand. 

Hyatt’s project feeds into her main interest in engineering: prosthetics for disabled athletes. A member of Binghamton’s track team and the daughter of two physical therapists, she has been interested in the human body for most of her life. “Whether the focus be on trying to reach the human body’s potential in athletics, or returning back to normal when something goes awry, the human body is fascinating to me,” she said. In one of her Fall 2021 classes, she and two others wired a circuit allowing a user to use EMG signals from their own arm to control the rotating and closing motion of a robotic arm.

"I am most looking forward to living in a new city for the summer and working alongside a dedicated group of students,” said Hyatt. “I cannot wait to see all that Cleveland and CWRU have to offer this summer. I’m excited for all that I will learn this summer working under Dr. Gbur and alongside two other dedicated engineering students.”