Two UC San Diego students won $25,000 last month in a battery design challenge hosted by ZPower, a California-based battery company.
The competition was open to undergraduate engineering students who could develop and prototype products or devices that make use of ZPower’s rechargeable microbattery technology.
Quyen Hoang, a recently graduated nanoengineering major who is now working on a BS/MS degree and Carl Demolder, a mechanical and aerospace engineering major, set out to develop a project that would conform to the challenge’s guidelines.
“We were thinking of making a compact, wireless microcontroller for our glove because it would be convenient, comfortable, and user-friendly for both therapist and patient,” Hoang said. “[The] ZPower battery is a great option for the power supply of our intentional wireless design because the battery has a small size, contains high energy capacity, possesses great recharging capability, and has high safety features.”
Guided by two faculty advisors, postdoctoral researcher Moran Amit and Associate Professor Tina Ng, the team set out to study spasticity: a medical condition characterized by muscle stiffness, involuntary movements, painful contractures, and rough limb movements. Together, the team developed “a spasticity evaluation glove” called Handske.
“We had no idea that we would win the competition because the other teams were also very competitive with their innovative ideas,” Hoang said.
The competition had two other finalists: a group of students from Professor Joseph Wang’s lab in the Nanoengineering Department and a group of five from the University of New Mexico. UCSD students Thomas Dawkins, Kay Mengiia Lyu, and Lu Yin developed a device called the “Glucoband,” a continuous, non-invasive glucose monitoring wristband for diabetic patients. The team from UNM designed a device called the Arduino IDE MicroRover, a tiny, remotely-operated car for disaster rescue missions.
When asked about future plans for their new device, Hoang said the team is still trying to eliminate any technical issues before testing it in a clinical or hospital setting.
“With the winning prize, we would be able to pay our tuition fees and propel this project forward,” Hoang said.
Cindy Zhan is a staff writer for The Triton.