When sitting in a doctor’s office, have you ever wondered who dreams up or designs the medical equipment and how it gets made? It often starts with nursing and engineering students at a school like Bradley University. Through collaboration between the engineering and nursing departments, these students are changing the future of health care.

Three recent projects reshaped the university’s nursing labs and showed biomedical engineering students the professional impact they could make. The first product was an electronic thermometer that could be controlled to show realistic human temperatures. The second muffled the simulation lab’s noisy air compressor. The third was a model of a clubbed hand.

“The project was very helpful for learning how to solve problems as a team, which will be useful throughout my career as I work on different engineering teams with different people,” said senior Jackson Cavett. “It was also helpful working with clients (like) Bradley’s nursing department as this is something that you are bound to experience in engineering.”

Working together taught future nurses to be involved in the creation of their tools. They had a responsibility to seek improvements if equipment was outdated or not meeting current safety standards. Innovative new ideas from the hospital floor would be welcomed, too.

From the design side, engineering students realized how user input was vital to advancing technology. Without that input, designers could make a technically sound product, but it might not be practical in the field.

Interdisciplinary interaction showed students how to work with people with different areas of expertise. Nursing majors learned about engineers’ timelines, budgets and production processes, while engineering majors gained insights into the products from senior nursing majors’ firsthand experiences.

“I (enjoyed) working on a project that was based at Bradley because it gave me a chance to get to know some of the students and faculty in the nursing department,” added Cavett. “They were always very willing to help us out. No wonder Bradley’s nursing department has such a good reputation!”

— Bailey Longman '21