One of this year’s Boston University biomedical engineering senior design teams took second place in the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering Design by Undergraduate Biomedical Engineering Teams competition. The team, which created a high-tech glove to enhance the capabilities of the traditional white cane used by people with visual impairments, will receive $15,000 at a ceremony at the Biomedical Engineering Society conference later this month.
And a part of this team is from right here in the Pinelands– Seneca High School graduate Micki Dupnik.
The team’s entry, a “Sensory Substitution Glove for the Visually Impaired,” is designed to enable users to detect obstacles at head-height as well as sudden drop-offs and do so early enough to change course and prevent injury. Equipped with ultrasound and infrared sensors, an accelerometer, a microprocessor and a small speaker, the backside of the glove scans the user’s surroundings and produces vibrational signals that cue him or her to avoid impediments within a one-to-two-meter range.
Dupnik was on a team with two other biomedical engineering majors from Boston University. Part of her curriculum as a senior is a yearlong design project requiring her and her team to create a device. After presenting the device to professors, administrators, students and family this past spring, Dupnik and her team were encouraged to pursue further recognition.
“Professors at Boston University told us that we had worked so hard and done so much research that we should showcase it,” Dupnik said.
Dupnik, a 2010 graduate of Seneca, credited her alma mater for sparking her interest in engineering.
“I didn’t really know about engineering until sophomore year at Seneca when I visited Lockheed Martin on a field trip. When I had the opportunity to see what it was all about, I was immediately hooked,” Dupnik said.
The field of biomedical engineering provided the perfect fit for Dupnik as she also had an interest in working in medicine.
“I thought that I might want to be a doctor, so biomedical became a real interest to me. I was more interested in creating physical devices,” Dupnik said.
The education she received at Seneca prepared her for her studies at Boston University.
“The classes and AP classes at Seneca were very rigorous. Seneca definitely prepared me and got me in the mindset of working and striving to push myself. I couldn’t have done it without the teachers at Seneca because they were great about pushing you to levels you didn’t think you could go to,” Dupnik said.
Dupnik lives in a suburb of Boston and works full time as a biomedical engineer. But don’t think she’s forgotten her roots.
“It’s a treat coming home. I miss the food, the fruit. I really miss Jersey corn,” Dupnik said with a laugh.