• An abstract of our work on mitral valve motion simulation was selected as one of the top three abstracts at the 2021 Cardiovascular Implant Durability Conference (CVID) in Pacific Grove, California on October 12. This conference is well attended by industry leaders, academic researchers, and FDA regulators. Carter Gaulke will be presenting our work to this esteemed audience! The full conference program and additional details can be found here. The title of Carter's talk is


"Design of a Mitral Annulus Motion Simulator for Accelerated Structural Testing of Mitral Repair and Replacement Devices"

  • The work of Professor Secord and Professor Koerner was featured in the 2020 Virtual Design of Medical Devices Conference Rapid Fire Sessions. Please see the video here.

  • Professor Secord gave an interview to the Aliance of Advanced Biomedical Engineering (AABME) at the Design of Medical Devices Conference (April 2018). You can listen to the interview here.

  • The BRaM team was featured in an article in the St. Thomas magazine that described our work on tunable resonance cardiac energy harvesting. The basic idea is to create an implantable cardiac device that can adapt to the heart rate of the patient to maximize the ability to harvest energy for use in powering devices such as pacemakers. Read more here.

  • Milad, Austin, and Amanda were also featured in this recent commercial for the St. Thomas School of Engineering! Take a look:

  • We developed a molding process to create silicone versions of patient-specific hearts from multi-phase CT images. The images below shows an example of the mold and the resulting left atrium and ventricle.

Mechanical Simulation of Cardiac Motion


General Description:

Implantable cardiac medical devices are subjected to rigorous mechanical testing prior to market approval. This testing, however, often fails to faithfully recreate the stochastic and complex nature of the deformations imposed in vivo. This research aims to create high fidelity reconstructions of cardiac motion using advanced sensor and actuator technology.


Current Focal Points:

  • Implement PID control of temperature in simulated heart test chamber

  • Implement feedback control to achieve high-fidelity and high frequency deformations

  • Apply mathematical techniques (e.g., spherical harmonics) to describe heart shapes

  • Complete design integration, performance characterization, and test cases


Recommended Skills for Interested Students:

Do not worry if you do not have all of the skills below; there are multiple facets of the project and a single student is not expected to have proficiency in all areas.

  • Image processing and coding in MATLAB

  • OpenCV in Python

  • Electronics

  • PID control

Example of our stereo imaging results for the molded left ventricle


Transcatheter Valve (TCV) Sensor Development

General Description:

Surgical valve replacement is increasingly shifting towards minimally-invasive, transcatheter valve (TCV) procedures. Market released TCVs are passive mechanical devices that perform the singular function of maintaining vessel patency or valve orifice area. The present state of TCV technology leaves an unmet need for continuously monitoring patency, patient vital signs, and disease state progression.  This work seeks to fundamentally shift the technological paradigm in TCV technology by bringing instrumentation and sensing into a realm historically dominated by purely mechanical TCV designs.

Current Focal Points:

  • Develop a test apparatus to pressurize a prototype TCV

  • Design a prototype delivery cathether for sensor delivery to a TCV frame

  • Conduct testing on initial prototype sensors

  • Apply combinatoric techniques for frame fracture detection 

Recommended Skills for Interested Students:

Do not worry if you do not have all of the skills below; there are multiple facets of the project and a single student is not expected to have proficiency in all areas.

  • Proficiency in SolidWorks

  • Proficiency in mechanical fabrication: machining, laser cutting, 3D printing

  • Basic understanding of I2C sensors

  • Electronics

  • Data analysis in MATLAB

Concept for a stent-based sensor network to monitor patient vital signs

Illustration of how an I2C sensor network can be implemented in a TCV


Mathematical Design of Experiments and Combinatorics

General Description:

Current experimental design practice heuristically assigns physical variables to experimental variables (e.g. in a fractional factorial matrix). Additionally, current design of experiment (DoE) methodologies are not well suited to use with large and computationally intensive models such as structural or thermal finite element analysis. This research aims to fill theoretical gaps and provide practical, yet rigorous, design and experimentation tools for practicing engineers.

Focal Points:

  • Optimal naming schemes and Bayesian analysis for design of experiments

  • Finite difference methods for experimental design and minimal trade off analysis

For Interested Students:

  • This research is mathematically rigorous and is well suited to St. Thomas undergraduate students in mathematics, statistics, or related disciplines.


General Robotics and Pedagogy

An ecclectic, yet thematically consistent, list of additional research interests and opportunities are provided below:

Robotics Focal Points:

  • Underwater robotics: communication, localization, and actuation

  • Deep water robotics

Pedagogy Focal Points:

  • Statistical knowledge gaps in current engineering curricula

  • Development of low-cost two-link robotics manipulators for introducing robotics

  • Teaching digital control principles using the Arduino and Raspberry Pi

For Interested Students:

  • This research spans all St. Thomas engineering disciplines: electrical, mechanical, and computer. Opportunities exist on multiple facets of this research for students in these majors (both at the undergraduate and graduate levels).