A Student Working on a Project
March 9, 2021


QL+ is cosponsoring the i-MADE Bioengineering National Design-A-Thon on January 29-30.  Student teams have four hours to design a medical product based on a prompt revealed at the kickoff. They will present designs to a panel of judges, including representatives from the event sponsors, IEEE and QLPlus!

Individual registrations are encouraged, as teams will be made across colleges.  Registration as a team of four is also possible.  Registration and FAQ links can be found at the end of this post.  The deadline to register is January 22.

Alex Morain from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is a member of i-MADE, the group hosting the event.  We caught up with Alex to learn more about him and the Design-A-Thon.

Tell us more about you.  What is your major?  Why did you choose this major?  What are your plans after graduation?
I am a bioengineering major at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. I transferred into this major from radiological engineering in my sophomore year after realizing that I wanted to work on medical design projects specifically. After graduation, I will be working at DMC, an engineering consulting firm, working in their Test and Measurement department on various engineering challenges for companies. I am excited to get the opportunity to work on a variety of engineering projects in my future career!

How did you get involved in this event?
I first helped to start i-MADE in the spring of last year, after being approached by the rest of the executive board who asked me to serve as the V.P. of Internal Affairs, which would include hosting Design-a-Thons and organizing technical workshops for students on campus.

i-MADE had been a part of advertising and organizing for a previous Design-a-Thon on U of I’s campus, but this year we wanted to take the lead in organizing a national event. I loved the idea of contributing to an organization that deployed design teams to work on real-world medical challenges and was eager to get involved.

I have loved being a part of i-MADE and was very excited to get the opportunity to organize the national Design-a-Thon this year. My colleagues have been enormously helpful in the organization process, bringing along great ideas for its implementation that I could have never thought of by myself. For that, I’m truly grateful.

Why do you think Design-A-Thons are important?
Design-a-Thons are incredibly important because they teach students how to quickly adapt to new challenges and approach new design problems while also teaching technical skill sets that are valuable in careers. As we have seen from the pandemic, adapting to new design challenges quickly is directly applicable to challenges that can be faced in future careers, making this skill set invaluable.

What are you hoping the students will experience by participating in it?
I’m hoping that students participating in this event will learn how to adapt to new challenges quickly, work productively in teams, and present their ideas clearly and effectively.  I hope students learn more about technical skills like 3D CAD and medical device design along the way as well, but it’s those aforementioned soft skills that I think are most important and directly applicable to all engineering careers.

Dr. Barb Springer, QL+'s Chief Operating Officer, shares her thoughts about the i-MADE competition and how QL+ got involved:

How did QL+ get involved in this event?
QL+ worked with Virginia Tech's BME Department on a potential QL+ National Design Competition with other interested parties from UC Denver, UNC-Chapel Hill, and The Catholic University joining the initial meetings.   Our contact is Dr. Christopher Arena, VT BME Professor. I believe COVID slowed up the process, so he then introduced us to a new opportunity led by Jenny Amos and Alex Morain from UIUC.  Jenny and Alex are organizing a virtual Design-a-Thon for this year, and they were looking for a theme.   Chris Arena thought this could be a nice way to incorporate design challenges posed by QL+ and possibly get some early feedback and results on our national competition idea.

What is our role in this event?
We provided the theme, a mentor, and judges.

Without talking about the specifics of the problem that students are trying to solve, why did you propose this problem to i-Made?
This is a widespread problem for many individuals with a specific disability and has yet to be solved.

How does this event coincide with the QL+ mission?
Because a solution can help many of our Veterans and others a better quality of life.

For more information, follow the links below.

Date:  Friday, January 29 through Saturday, January 30
Register at: https://lnkd.in/d8xNvya
Deadline to Register: Friday, January 22
FAQ Page: https://bit.ly/3b6gBOP

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