BioDesign Lab delivers new solutions

Bringing together researchers from different industries and specialisations to develop and apply new medical technologies and therapies is the focus for the BioDesign Lab – but it also plays a crucial role in introducing students to new research opportunities and ways of working.

BioDesign Lab co-director, Associate Professor David White, says since the lab was established in 2013 it has supported a range of complex projects drawing on expertise from across different research disciplines and collaborating with industry and community partners.

Master of Engineering student Bradley Nixon was supported by Aō Air to develop and validate a new proof-of-concept ATMOS facemask technology that has received significant funding and government support, and is set to go on sale to the public.

With support from Surgisplint Ltd and Callaghan Innovation, another Master of Engineering student, Michael Van Wyk, embedded smart technology in the Zero-Cast WX wrist brace system which can provide information on the brace fit and on the user’s mobility exercises, to assist with better tracking of recovery for patients and clinicians.

Some of the BioDesign Lab’s multidisciplinary projects have extended beyond traditional medtech applications.

AUT’s School of Art and Design senior lecturer James Charlton is working with Jasmin Hitching, a Bachelor of Engineering Technology in Mechanical Engineering student, to develop a programmable robot with sensors and special machine tooling attachments that will be capable of creating sculpture in response to the movements of an artist.

“Traditional education models often compartmentalise learning and fields of study, but projects like this one remove those artificial barriers and pave the way for more adaptive, less prescribed learning which supports new knowledge and discoveries.” Jasmin says the project has given her valuable problem-solving skills and insight into how different industries tackle the same problem and arrive at different solutions.

“Aside from learning the technical skills involved in communicating with and controlling robots, I’ve got to see the process involved in taking an idea through to a working product.”

Image courtesy of Aō Air