Engineering, Computer Science Seniors Showcase Skills, Solutions at UTDesign Expo

Husam Wadi participated in the UTDesign Expo

At the recent UTDesign Expo, Husam Wadi, a senior mechanical engineering major, discusses his team's project creating an automated cutting station to streamlime product testing for medical device manufacturer Medtronic. 

When the medical device company Medtronic wanted to improve how an advanced surgical drill was tested for reliability, the company challenged students in the UTDesign program to devise a solution.

Medtronic asked the team of seniors in the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science — Isabella Reed, Mohammad Ayyash, Bistees Abdelmalak, Devin Weinbender, Husam Wadi and Nicolette Stoddart — to improve the efficiency of their reliability tests for the Midas Rex (MR) cranial and spinal drill. The students created an Automated Cutting Station (ACS) to streamline testing by combining surgical simulation and failure analysis into one step.

Their work won a first-place prize in the recent UTDesign Expo, an annual event that showcases the capstone projects of the UTDesign teams.

“Our project was an interdisciplinary mechanical and biomedical engineering project, so it took time for us to learn how to work together efficiently,” said Reed, a senior biomedical engineering major who served as team leader. “I think it was the diversity of knowledge within our team that contributed to our success.”

Reed said the ACS is a mechanical system that dynamically maps the topography of the bone — bovine scapulas are used in testing — and simulates a user-specified surgical procedure using the MR system. The machine consists of a 3-axis computer numerical control machine, National Instruments motion control, a user-friendly machine interface and a laser distance sensor.


Students discuss the benefits of the UTDesign program in this video. If you don't see the video, watch it on Vimeo.


Every year, engineering and computer science seniors are required to complete a team-oriented project, allowing them to engage in the design process and put in practice their project-management and problem-solving skills. Each UTDesign team consists of four to six students working with a corporate mentor and a faculty advisor.

“We have specifically set up UTDesign to bridge the gap from academia to industry for our engineering students,” said Dr. Todd Polk, bioengineering lecturer and a UTDesign director. “Our goal is to fully immerse them in the industry experience, by working with local companies to support and mentor the project teams, and by using only industry terminology and practices throughout the program.

“By doing this, we give the students, who we call engineers, their first in-depth experience of working in industry on a large open-ended project," he said. "We believe that this helps smooth their transition after graduation when they join the workforce.”

Mechanical engineering senior Mohammad Ayyash said Medtronic gave them a challenge the company was working to solve.

“This real-world engineering experience makes me excited for my career as an engineer,” Ayyash said.

Second-place recognition in the bioengineering and mechanical engineering division went to a team that created an automated robotic system for Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems. The team consisted of mechanical engineering seniors Jamie Gravell, Benjamin Gravell, Joao Pereira, Bonnie Billings, Savannah Mars and Abin Abraham.

Team leader Jamie Gravell said Raytheon manufactures circulators that contain powerful magnets and delicate wire traces for use in radar systems. The team was tasked with developing a robotic system capable of extracting circulators from a magnetic carrying platform, transporting them, and dropping them into a non-magnetic carrier without damaging the circulator.

“A major technical challenge that we faced was fabricating a system from the ground up,” Gravell said. “In previous classes of our undergraduate experience, we are taught to take a design from paper to a 3-D model in a computer. In senior design, the students have to take this a step further and bring a concept to life with all kinds of components from different manufacturers. The final product feels like so much more of a success after a long design and fabrication process, and I'm glad I was able to experience this.”

2017 UTDesign Expo Winners

Bioengineering and Mechanical Engineering 

First Place – Automated Cutting Station (Medtronic) – Bistees Abdelmalak, Mohammad Ayyash, Isabella Reed, Nicolette Stoddart, Husam Wadi and Devin Weinbender

Second Place – Space and Airborne Systems (Raytheon) – Abin Abraham, Bonnie Billings, Benjamin Gravell, Jamie Gravell, Savannah Mars and Joao Pereira.

Third Place – Development of a Smart Wind Turbine Model for Wind Tunnel (UTD WindFlux Lab) – Connor Christina, Katherine Civitillo, Connor Crabtree, Kevin Meadows and Gabriel Rockwell 

Computer Science

First Place – AlgoDerm (UTD Geometric & Biomedical Computing Lab) – Adityaa Arivazhagan, Craig Bailey, Lindsey Davis, Jai Ghanekar, Ahwini Suresh

Second Place – PiRemote (JLL Consulting) – Victor Anyrah, Bryan Gillespie, Muhammad Martinez, Jeffrey Parsa and Matthew Willoughby

Third Place – Odyssey – Online Juror Response (Tyler Technologies) – Kiarra Dean, Marcus Karl, Sara Melnick and Andrew Robinson

Electrical Engineering 

First Place – Autonomous Data Collection (Los Alamos National Laboratories) – Salvador de Leon, Michael Miner, Michael Shamoun, Nima Taghizadegan and Noah Wallaert

Second Place – Motion-Controlled Robotic Device (UT Dallas) – Jae Hwang, Victor Nguyen and Zeming Wang

Third Place – Secure Transmitting and Receiving Device (Rockwell Collins) – Tirith Bhuta, Adam Mendonca, Soham Shah, Eric Chen, Andrew Wei and Maarten Timmerman

Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].

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