Lego prosthetics the focus of intense competition at annual CUBE Biomedical Engineering Competition
A foosball-playing prosthetic forearm prototype – fashioned only from pieces of Lego – was the challenge put forth to teams of competitors by the University of Toronto’s Club for Undergraduate Biomedical Engineering (CUBE) at this years’ annual Biomedical Engineering Competition (BMEC). The challenge put to the competitors was this: create a foosball-playing prosthetic forearm prototype using Lego Mindstorms, lego kits containing both software and hardware to create small, customizable and programmable robots.
Teams presented and demonstrated their designs, and discussed how a real prototype could be made, including the material science, biocompatibility factors, and feedback controls involved.
The February 3 rd event was attended by 60 undergraduate competitors, and judging was performed by IBBME faculty Director Paul Santerre, Assistant Professor Mary Nagai (IBBME), and Assistant Professor Benjamin Hatton (MSE, cross-appointed to IBBME).
“It was fascinating. With something as simple as Lego, the students were able to create something complex,” said Professor Nagai.
The teams ended the competition in an elimination-style foosball tournament — the ultimate test of their designs.
Although they were not the winners of the foosball tournament, top prize (for the most holistic and detailed design) went 3rd year Engineering Science students Mason Leschyna, Pratik Agrawal, and Henry Xu.
The design that ultimately won the tourney – created by Simon Bromberg, Eric Ma, Ben Ouyang and Zongyi Yang – surprised the judges.
“The funny thing was, mechanically, we chose a design that allowed some more range of movement and greater freedom. But the design we thought was too simple was the arm that was most successful at the foosball competition – that arm won. It just goes to show that the best design on paper does not always translate into functionality,” said Professor Nagai.
The event showcases a growing passion for biomedical engineering – a research field that extends across years and disciplines – with 1st year through 4th year competitors hailing from Engineering Science, Mechanical, Electrical and Computer, Chemical, and Industrial Engineering.
This year’s competition was so popular, in fact, signups exceeded available space by 50%.
“The CUBE executive would like to thank all competitors and judges, and is looking forward to next year’s competition,” said Lara Fu, co-chair of the CUBE Executive.