‘Brainy’ couture: Biomed grad designs high-tech style

Elizabeth Cooper

One of the first graduates of Virginia Tech’s biomedical engineering program, Leah Thomas invented a garment to alleviate pain in lymphedema patients. Photo by Don Petersen
One of many first graduates of Virginia Tech’s biomedical engineering program, Leah Thomas invented a garment to alleviate ache in lymphedema sufferers. Picture by Don Petersen

Leah Thomas grew to become a designer to cap off her undergraduate diploma in Virginia Tech’s biomedical engineering program.

A member of the college’s first cohort of 40 undergraduate biomedical engineering college students who graduated in spring 2022, Thomas designed a gown and headpiece fitted with biosensors for a biotech couture style present.

She collaborated with one other biomedical engineering pupil and two industrial engineering college students to create fashions that displayed the mannequin’s biosignals to the viewers. Her water-inspired gown and headpiece moved rhythmically with the mannequin’s mind waves by incorporating EEG sensors.

“That was a giant ardour mission,” the Williamsburg native says. “As a lot as I really like the technical facet, I’m additionally inventive and this mixed excessive style with biomedical sensors.”

She initially deliberate to main in mechanical engineering, however the alternative to flex her inventive muscle tissues drew Thomas to Virginia Tech’s newly-established biomedical engineering program in 2019. “It mixed my love of constructing issues and design with serving to others,” she says. Together with her diploma, Thomas is transferring to Kalamazoo, Michigan, to affix Stryker Devices as a design engineer.

Integrating organic sciences with engineering design, biomedical engineering goals to boost well being care with engineering options for assessing, diagnosing and treating medical situations.

Virginia Tech has partnered with Wake Forest College for almost 20 years on grasp’s and Ph.D. applications in biomedical engineering however decided there was sturdy demand for an undergraduate diploma that emphasised foundational mechanics.

“That is an more and more common main, not simply in the USA however internationally due to its connection to well being care,” says Jennifer Wayne, head of the Virginia Tech’s biomedical engineering and mechanics division. “Virginia Tech has such a powerful faculty of engineering. This diploma provides us a possibility to use engineering rules to enhance the supply of well being care since biomedical engineers work hand-in-hand with well being care suppliers to unravel issues or to make options higher.”

Final summer time, Thomas interned with Virginia Tech’s Carilion Clinic, the place she designed circuitry and coding on a sleeve that may be worn by lymphedema sufferers to alleviate ache. “It’s a mix of vibration and compression,” she says. “We’re engaged on getting a full patent.”

The primary cohort confronted unprecedented challenges throughout COVID. “The scholars excelled and had been capable of carry out analysis in college labs, internships and co-ops,” Wayne says.

In the meantime, this system is rising, with 60 seniors, 80 juniors and 80 sophomores enrolled this fall. ”