Louisiana Tech biomedical engineering students earn international acclaim

Jun 17, 2011 | Engineering and Science

Every year, seniors in Louisiana Tech University’s College of Engineering and Science work on a year-long senior design project that culminates in a presentation before professors, parents and guests of the college.  This year, “Team Electric Slide” took their presentation to an international conference and came away with high marks and acclaim for their work.
Team Electric Slide, made up of biomedical engineering seniors Brennon Cucullu, Rae Henson, Katie Simmons, and Chris Garcia, was selected for the highest honor in an undergraduate design competition at the 2011 RESNA (Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America) Conference, June 4-8 in Toronto.

Left to right Chris Garcia, Mike Shipp, Rae Henson, Brennon Cucullu, Patrick O’Neal, and Katie Simmons

“I’m very glad we had the opportunity to compete at a national level,” said Simmons.  “While we were there, we received great insight from experts in the field and from potential users.”
Capstone projects are submitted each year to a student design competition sponsored by the National Science Foundation at RESNA with ten semi-finalists selected and invited to attend the annual conference.  Judges evaluate the semi-finalists’ presentations and name five finalists.  In addition to Louisiana Tech, other 2011 finalists came from Rice University, Duke University, University of Rochester, and Vanderbilt University.
Team Electric Slide worked throughout their senior year on a magnetic interface designed to augment existing three-prong electrical outlets in the home or office.  This assistive technology enables individuals with limited mobility in the upper extremities to use electrical devices without assistance.
The team, working with the Louisiana Tech Technology Transfer Center and staff from the Center for Rehabilitation Engineering Science and Technology (CREST), will formally consider the commercialization potential of the device.
“Working with the CREST staff was a fantastic experience,” said Cucullu.  “They were very supportive and provided constant feedback towards the design of the device.”
This group was part of the first cadre of year-long projects sponsored by a new five-year National Science Foundation grant received by Dr. Patrick O’Neal, assistant professor of biomedical engineering at Louisiana Tech, and Mike Shipp, director of CREST.  Student teams from mechanical engineering and electrical engineering also participate each year, demonstrating the interdisciplinary nature of collaboration within the College of Engineering and Science.
Cucullu expressed the pride he felt in representing Louisiana Tech.  “I felt that we represented Tech to the best of our ability and we demonstrated the quality of the education we received.”
The group confirmed that Louisiana Tech is recognized around nation as an excellent university in which to receive a degree in biomedical engineering.  Cucullu added, “Our team got along very well. We ended up becoming friends, and now that it is over, it is sad to see everyone go their separate ways.”
Written by Patrick O’ Neal ( and Catherine Fraser (