Calling all “Makers”… are you ready for Makeathon 2017?

| January 27, 2017

All students with biomedical interests are encouraged to participate in the annual engineering design team competition held in February.

Student participants taking a break from the action during last year’s Makeathon. Photo courtesy of USC ASBME

There is a magic that happens when bringing an idea to life. Engineers must constantly transform ideas into reality, creating functional objects and technology for the benefit of our world.

From Feb.17 to Feb.19, USC’s Associated Students of Biomedical Engineering (ASBME) will be hosting the second annual Makeathon, a team competition to design and create devices based on a biomedical-related challenge. The event gels students from all disciplines and universities for a whirlwind weekend of teamwork, innovation and perhaps even a little magic.

“Makeathon is a place where students can adapt their knowledge from the classroom to tackle real-world engineering problems, thereby improving their teamwork, brainstorming, presentation, design iteration and prototyping skills,” said Adam Seifert, USC ASBME president. “It is highly collaborative and intended to connect underclassmen with upperclassmen for a shared experience.”

Last year’s challenge was to design and build a medical device that can both prevent and treat upper extremity musculoskeletal fractures in outer space. All teams present their ideas to a panel of ASBME alumni and PhD student mentors with the top five finishers moving on to fabricate a device. For fabrication materials, the teams only had aluminum, foam and acrylic sheets, wire, duct tape, fabric, Velcro and 3D printers at their disposal. All teams prepare a final presentation for a panel of faculty judges regardless of whether they were able to fabricate.

A Makeathon 2016 participant demonstrates his team’s device to treat musculoskeletal injuries in outer space. Photo courtesy of ASBME

The design theme is released 24 hours prior to the event to give teams a chance to brainstorm. During the first night, the challenge is revealed and thereafter, teams have limited resources and only 30 hours to undergo months’ worth of design process. Space is limited to 18 teams total consisting of 4-5 students, each with one underclassmen and two upperclassmen.

“I was able to learn a lot from working with seniors who knew what specific considerations to take into account, both when designing and presenting,” said Nina Singh, a USC sophomore and member of last year’s third place team. “Especially for underclassmen, Makeathon is a valuable chance to quickly pick up new skills and design, prototype and present in the context of biomedical engineering.”

This year’s event will be held on the USC University Park campus in the Ronald Tutor Campus Center (RTCC). Sponsors include the Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES), Abbott, NeoMedix and the Alfred Mann Institute (AMI) of the USC Viterbi School of Engineering. For more information or to register for the contest, please visit www.uscmakeathon.com. The registration deadline is Feb.16.