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Engineering and medical students build prototype auscultation simulator

Students solve a challenge related to the design and prototyping of simulators for learning medical techniques.

PhotoPaulaBerroa/Students working in interdisciplinary teams

21 | 02 | 2022

The course "Bio Design Engineering" has as its aim goal that the students face real problems in interdisciplinary teams in a way that is internship

A few weeks ago, engineering and medicine students worked together to design and build the prototype of a medical simulator. The manager of the Medical Engineering laboratory of the School of Medicine and Tecnun lecturer, Marcos Llorente Ortega , proposed to the students a challenge related to the design and prototyping of simulators for learning medical techniques. Specifically, they had to build a prototype of an auscultation simulator

Nicolás Lafaverge , student of Mechanical Engineering at Tecnun, explains that they had at their disposal different material resources and the challenge of pooling the knowledge of the engineers who "knew how to programme but without our medical colleagues we would not have been able to tackle work". They also had the support and supervision of the School's professors Paz Morer and Adam Podhorski and the biomedical engineer Nicolás López de Aguileta, from laboratory Medical Engineering.

The medical students, says Lafaverge, chose a specific pathology, mitral stenosis, studied it in depth and guided them "because depending on the patient's pathology, one sound or another is perceived at a specific point and they knew what sounds they had to hear to detect it".

"We helped them create an auscultation simulator integrated into a T-shirt. We had to explain the basic principles of auscultation and how to operate a stethoscope to give them a better view of the problem and the possible limitations of their designs. We also helped with the design of the simulator to make it as similar as possible to a real phonendoscope," says Pedro Montoro, student of medicine.

  design The Tecnun students, from the Degrees Industrial, Mechanical and Biomedical Engineering departments, programmed the device with arduino boards and the rest of the simulator hardware, as well as creating a T-shirt with sensors at core topic that the doctors had to evaluate to determine the pathology or to see if the simulated patient was healthy.


Pedro Montoro , student of medicine, emphasised how "gratifying" and "fun" he found result to share hours of work with students from another discipline: "It has opened the doors to anew facet of Medicine, unknown to many. Engineers are very present in medicine, although we don't always realise it. They design everything we use and we, the future doctors, can participate in the creation of the new technologies that will be used.

His colleague Cristina Álvarez acknowledged that they arrived knowing absolutely nothing about programming and barely understanding what they were being told, and yet by the end of the course they were able to understand each other perfectly. "It was very cool to be able to work as a team from such different fields at knowledge, and even more so when the task was as difficult as building a prototype from scratch," said Álvarez. "I loved it. In fact, we're looking forward to another edition so we can come back.  

For a week, the Igara laboratories of the University's technological campus hosted the second edition of the "Bio Design Engineering" course , the aim of which goal is for medical and engineering students to tackle real problems in interdisciplinary teams internship. As Tecnun lecturer Paz Morer points out, in both courses the School has had the participation of doctors from the Clinic to guide them on the problem to be solved, although this year it was the students themselves who took part: "It is a challenge and a challenge because they combine different knowledge and methods and approach the problems posed from different perspectives".


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work collaboration between the School de Medicina and Tecnun

Dr. Francisco J. Pueyo Villoslada, director of the Simulation Centre of the School of Medicine, who explained the need for the School to have a simulator for the training of the students, "both for basic cardiopulmonary auscultation practices and for standardised patient scenarios".

As Marcos Llorente says, "the project is based on a need of the School: "We wanted to create a new simulator with a different approach that would be useful for the training of the student body". In addition, Llorente adds, "this simulator has started with a prototype but it will be the project Final Project Degree of students of Medicine, Engineering at design and Biomedical Engineering. There will be three integrated projects, which is novel and tremendously enriching".

"The collaborative work is one of the challenges of the School of Medicine because working together makes the sparks of brilliant ideas bring solutions to everyday problems", said Secundino Fernández, then Associate Dean of the School and currently Vice President of Office of Academic Affairs of the University of Navarra.