McMaster engineering students design a winner


A team of five engineering and computer science students competing in the first Computer Science International Design Competition (CSIDC) has won top prize with their device, Heart Mate.

The team, consisting of Ajay Arora (electrical engineering), Chris Lambacher (computer science), Joshua Capogna (engineering physics), Mona Kohli (computer engineering) and Wai-Yin Shum (computer engineering and management), was supervised by assistant professor of medicine Markad Kamath.

The McMaster entry was one of 10 finalists in the competition, sponsored by the Institute of Electrical & Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Computer Society, and held in Washington D.C. on June 26-27. The students win a total of $15,000 (US), while the University receives $10,000 (US).

“It's taking a while to come back down to earth,” admits Shum. “It's all been very exciting and a bit overwhelming.” He adds that the competition was very well organized and a real effort was made to make all students feel valued. “We received a lot of feedback from the judges on the technology and also on our presentation.”

The win almost didn't happen! Team members spent about 40 frantic hours just prior to the public demonstration for the judges, trying to add some extras to the monitoring unit.

Heart Mate is intended as a warning device for high-risk patients of heart attack. Designed to be worn on the waist, it alerts patients and physicians of any potentially fatal heart rhythms.

The group plans to continue working on the unit to eradicate some minor bugs. While there has been talk of patenting the device, Shum says the students as a group are not too concerned about that. “We want McMaster and Mac students to benefit. We are trying to decide on the best option to take this project and get it into the world and help people.”

For now, the five are facing the realities of summer jobs. Shum and Lambacher are working in different Nortel Networks offices in Ottawa, Kohli is at MDRobotics, Capogna has work at Efos Inc, while Arora is at Motorola.