NUI Galway biomedical engineering students selected for global competition

A team of students from NUI Galway's biomedical engineering master's programme have been selected for a global innovation competition run by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the US. This is the first time a team from Ireland has been selected for the six month programme.

The IDEA² Global Programme provides transformative mentorship and expertise to emerging innovation leaders to develop their project ideas. Participating teams create projects that address compelling medical needs, and develop a broad network of connections and competitive financial pitching strategies. Teams often form companies as a result of the mentoring provided in IDEA2 Global.

The three students — Oisín McGrath, Belén Enguix Chiral, and Syed Kumail Jaffry — as part of their master's thesis project are developing a novel wearable device that can detect intermittent heart arrhythmia symptoms more reliably than current approaches.

Their project was motivated by the 35 million people suffering from heart arrhythmia globally. Some 60 per cent of people affected experience intermittent symptoms, which may only occur once per week or less, meaning symptoms can often go undetected with conventional approaches. The students are developing a more reliable method to aid diagnosis of these patients.

The project stemmed from a clinical need identified by the BioInnovate National programme, which is focused on innovation in the medical technology industry. BioInnovate director, Dr Faisal Sharif at NUI Galway, said: “BioInnovate Ireland is delighted to support biomedical engineering students at NUI Galway for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology IDEA² programme. The selection of these students for this prestigious programme in the US demonstrates the high calibre of education standards, and also students, at the university. It is also heartening to see that high quality unmet clinical needs emerging from BioInnovate Ireland are further endorsed internationally through programmes such as IDEA² at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.”

Professor Peter McHugh, dean of the College of Engineering and Informatics at NUI Galway, added: “This is a fantastic achievement for our students at NUI Galway, and is a wonderful endorsement of the quality and international standard of the Masters of Engineering programmes that we have introduced in the college in recent years. We wish the team the very best in the programme, and look forward to bringing their positive experiences and learnings back to Ireland to fuel the development of our educational programmes and Irish high tech industry.”

As part of the six month programme the team will receive innovation training, presentation skill building, and team-specific mentorship and guidance by internationally-recognised experts. An NUI Galway team representative will also attend workshops in MIT.

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