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Nisha Rajakrishna and Collin Preszler in the background. Collin is holding up a black prosthetic arm in the foreground.

Biomedical engineering honors students Nisha Rajakrishna and Collin Preszler  designed and built a pediatric neuroprosthetic arm.

Biomedical Engineering Students Build Neuroprosthetic Arm

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Biomedical Engineering Students Build Neuroprosthetic Arm

Feb. 11, 2022
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With funding from the W.A. Franke Honors College, the two developed a concept and built a prototype.

Collin Preszler and Nisha Rajakrishna, biomedical engineering majors and juniors at the W.A. Franke Honors College, recently put their work into practice by creating a pediatric neuroprosthetic arm based on a design provided by the University of Michigan. 

“This project had a start like I think most extracurricular or spontaneous projects do,” Preszler said. “I met Nisha at the beginning of sophomore year over Zoom and we quickly struck up a practice of checking and going over homework for our math class. Then she sent a text along the lines of ‘Hey, you're an electrical engineering major, too, right? What do you think about working on the circuit design and software for this project I'm starting? It's a neuroprosthetic arm!’” 

From there, the two students spent the first part of spring 2021 assembling a Bill of Materials and applying for one of the development awards offered by the W.A. Franke Honors College. With the money awarded, they ordered parts and started working on the first prototype of their neuroprosthetic arm. It was an enduring, complex process.

“There were lots of problems along the way with materials, production, and just getting the device to work that Collin and I have had to figure out on our own,” Rajakrishna said. But both students are quick to credit the support of their mentor, biomedical engineering professor Nima Toosizadeh, PhD, with helping them get the project off the ground. 

After several iterations of assemblies and revisions, the two undergraduates are finalizing work on their a prosthetic arm. With a prototype complete, they would like to donate their next arm to a family in need. 

Read a Q&A with the students at the W.A. Franke Honors College.