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Nursing program helped by engineering students

nursing students working with dummy

Students learning in the College of Nursing’s recently renovated simulation labs with high-fidelity mannequins gain a near real-life experience. But sometimes there are scenarios that don’t fully match what would be experienced in the field.

One such scenario is the patient’s reaction to receiving a shock from a defibrillator. In real life, the patient will arch. “Anything out there in the market that would produce this reaction is very expensive,” according to Alyssa Zweifel, director of the Healthcare Simulation Center in Sioux Falls. So the college looked across campus to the Jerome J. Lohr College of Engineering for help.

Three mechanical engineering students in senior lecturer/program engineer Michael Twedt’s senior design class accepted the challenge in mid-March 2021. By December, a prototype was in hand.

This is the second collaboration between the colleges. In fall 2020, another group of mechanical engineering students created an intraosseous injection task trainer that can be used by graduate nursing students. Using a 3D printer, the students created an 8-inch section of the tibia, directly below the knee, that allows student to practice injections directly into bone marrow.

With no moving parts or electronics, that device was comparatively easy to construct and cost only $400 to produce and $20 to reproduce.

A final mannequin product requires approval from the simulation center. Supply chain delays and challenges in building the electrical circuitry slowed its development. Student James Smith gave an honest appraisal: “It needs troubleshooting. Nothing like this is meant to go together perfectly on the first try.”

It is expected another group of senior design students will pick up the project and make the modifications needed for the board to be used in simulation-based learning.

Zweifel said, “We’re OK with that (delay) knowing it is a bigger project. A year from now we want something we can actually use and replicate for the four sites in South Dakota where we have nursing programs.”

While the students’ obligation ended with the close of fall semester, the business plan for the board is entered in the Brookings Student Business Plan competition, which was held Jan. 26. The group finished third.