Rensselaer Students Win National Competition for Heart Monitoring Device Design

September 1, 2023


This past summer, a team of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute students, with the guidance of a faculty mentor, pitched a winning design for a wearable, medical-grade device that monitors for atrial fibrillation. Atrial fibrillation, or A-fib, is a potentially life-threatening heart condition that will affect an estimated 12 million people in the U.S. by 2030, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

The RPI team included undergraduate students Maddy Cardillo, Hannah Giglio, Martin Huang, and Diallo Molina, all seniors in class of 2024. Hisham Mohamed, Ph.D., senior lecturer in the Biomedical Engineering Department, served as team mentor.

The team won best design in the atrial fibrillation category at the Biomedical Engineering Society’s 2023 Coulter College Program, which challenges students from universities across the nation to develop innovative biomedical treatments for various health conditions.

A-fib is when the heart has an irregular rhythm. Blood pools in the heart’s upper chambers, which can cause blood clots and stroke. Wearing a heart monitoring device can catch A-fib early and help patients better manage the condition.  

During the competition, the RPI team developed the blueprint for Precious Pulse, a wearable heart monitoring device that looks like a piece of jewelry and can be customized to the user’s taste. Several similar devices are currently on the market, but none are FDA approved.

Precious Pulse, on the other hand, is designed to gain FDA clearance and could be prescribed by doctors to those with high risk of A-fib, Mohamed said. It is also meant to be cost effective and accessible to those who need it.

“The RPI team shined during the competition, both during the development process and the final presentation. The competition is supported by professionals in the biomedical industry, who noted how advanced and detailed their discussions with our students were,” Mohamed said. 

Experiences like the BMES Coulter College program prepares students to tackle the creative challenges they’ll face in professional life, said Juergen Hahn, Ph.D., professor and head of the Biomedical Engineering Department.

“Students get to meet and compete with peers from other institutions who are at the same stage of their careers that they are at, and they get more exposure to and feedback on the design process in addition to what they learn at RPI. Overall, these types of competitions enrich the students' education by adding elements that they cannot learn just in a classroom setting at RPI,” Hahn said.

Written By SCER Staff
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