GVSU Engineering Students Partner To Create "Patent Pending" Medical Device

May 16, 2018

Students help create medical device
Credit Grand Valley State University

A group of engineering students at Grand Valley State University partnered with Beaumont Hospital on the east side of the state.  They created a medical device that has the potential to improve the quality of life for people with neuromuscular diseases.

“Really empowering opportunity.  You think in school you’re going to be working on just a project that’s small, and to give you the skills, but this was a project working with a hospital and can be used to help people.”

That’s Jordan Vanderham: one of engineers on this project.  He was a junior during the course of the project and is now a graduating senior… wrapping up this summer.  He’s one of four students who helped design and create a “cough assist device”.  It helps clear the airway of those with diseases like muscular dystrophy and cystic fibrosis.

“People that have neuro-muscular diseases, meaning they don’t have the lung strength to cough. They need a cough assist device to move those fluids.  This is that entry product that can help them live a normal life.”

The device is about the size of a stack of textbooks and is patent pending. It comes through a collaboration agreement between Beaumont Health and Grand Valley’s School of Engineering.  The invention’s idea came from Dr. Bassel Salman, a pediatrician specializing in critical care who noticed a need for his patients to have a cough assist device that is affordable and portable.  It’s patent pending and was recently licensed to be commercially manufactured in China.

“Dr. Salman, the sponsoring doctor of this product was excited that they can use this in developing nations.”

It’s the first commercial licensing agreement for Grand Valley’s engineering program.  Thought not the first collaboration.

“So, we’ve done other wonderful opportunities in the past with local hospitals and other groups but this is an opportunity where it’s going quite far.”

The students completed the project as part of a one-semester class.  In addition to Jordan, the group included Sam Oostendorp, Austin Williams and Jake Stephens.