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Clarkson team finished second in Design Project Competition


POTSDAM - An integrated design team from the Department of Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering at Clarkson University claimed second place in the third annual Undergraduate Design Project Competition in Rehabilitation and Assistive Devices sponsored by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME).

The Clarkson project was titled “Cost Effective Electrolarynx Design: A Feasibility Study.”

The objective of the design effort was to create a low-cost electrolarynx for voice rehabilitation in patients who have undergone a laryngectomy. The electromechanical device utilizes an electrical actuator to create high-frequency vibrations of a diaphragm.

When the diaphragm is placed on the neck, sound produced by the vibrating diaphragm is transmitted through the neck tissue into the oral cavity, thereby enabling a person to produce intelligible sound through traditional tongue and mouth movements.

The prototype demonstrated significant cost savings over traditional electromechanical assistive speech devices that are already on the market, while also having the added flexibility of adjusting the vibration of the diaphragm in order to optimize the sound production on a patient specific basis.

The design team was comprised of mechanical engineering majors Janine Amell ‘13 of Schenectady, N.Y., Robert Griffin ‘13 of Hyde Park, Madison Malfa ‘13 of Airmont, Christopher Nycz ‘13 of Wallkill and Allen Osaheni ‘13 of Clifton Park and was directed by Associate Professor Kevin Fite and Assistant Professors Byron Erath and Laurel Kuxhaus.

This marks the third consecutive year in which a team from Clarkson has placed in the top two at the competition.

Six finalists for the competition were selected from 31 initial submissions based on a technical paper describing their proposed device and its impact on individual and public health. The paper addressed product need and market potential, development of a prototype device, and an economic plan for its commercialization based on market analysis.

The final competition for the six finalists comprised an oral presentation and prototype demonstration by each design team, and was held in June at the 2013 ASME Summer Bioengineering Conference in Sunriver, Ore.

The Clarkson students competed against finalists from the University of Michigan, Rochester Institute of Technology, University of Toledo, University of Utah, and University of Delaware. Clarkson is the only university that has advanced to the final competition all three years as well as the only university that has placed in the top-three, all three years.

As a finalist, the team received a $3,000 award from the ASME Bioengineering Division to defray the costs of traveling to the conference.

More information about the competition can be found at

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