Engineering students working with real patients

Posted on Sunday, January 15, 2017

Stephen Van de Mosselaer, Mehdi Eftekhari, Mohamed Musa Elsageyer and Lukas Lesniak won the engineering design competition held on December 8, 2016.

By Johanne Adam

Learning new skills is great, but using newly acquired skills and knowledge to help people in their daily lives, that’s even better!

And that was the goal for engineering students enrolled last fall in the Introduction to product development and management for engineers and computer scientists course (GNG2101).

The class was divided into several teams, each entrusted with finding a solution to one of the technical challenges faced by patients requiring complex continuing care at Saint-Vincent Hospital, Ottawa.

The results? Ten projects were presented at the engineering design competition that capped off the course on December 8, 2016 at the SITE cafeteria. The winning team proposed improvements to the call system installed in the patients’ rooms.

The challenge was suggested by technologist Bocar Ndiaye, the hospital’s assistance systems specialist, because the current system is poorly adapted to patients with mobility problems or those with reduced cognitive skills. The team also discussed the problem at length with some of the hospital’s patients to better understand what the patients needed.

“The patients were fully involved in the design process and were continually providing us with feedback,” said Mohamed Musa Elsageyer, a member of the winning team. “One patient even suggested integrating a touch sensor into the system, an idea that greatly improved the product,” he said.

The team also retooled some of the functions of the original system after having the patients try them out. “It was a really rewarding experience,” said team member Stephen Van de Mosselaer.

The patients and the hospital staff tested the final product and were very satisfied with the result. As for the students, their creativity and innovation certainly boosted the well-being of the hospital’s patients.

Some of the projects proposed by other teams

Oversized, foot-operated remote control for patients who have lost the use of their hands or arms.


Adjustable seats to increase the comfort of surgeons during their long hours in the operating theatre. 


A cane with an anti-slip foot for at-risk patients who need to walk outside in icy conditions.


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