New Generation Medical Devices Designed at European Bioengineering Summer School

Posted on: 20 July 2009

Engineering and medical undergraduate students from across Europe designed next-generation medical devices as part of a week-long International Medical and Engineering Summer School organised by Trinity College Dublin’s Centre for Bioengineering on July 6th – 17th last. This was the first cooperation in Europe between seven leading universities in biomedical engineering and medicine and was organised by the European Society of Engineering and Medicine (ESEM).

Twenty Seven students attended the summer school from participating institutions which included, the University of Groningen, Netherlands; the University of Applied Sciences, Regensburg, Germany, the University of Ulster, Northern Ireland, the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, the University of Ghent, Belgium; the University of Calabria, Italy, the Brno University of Technology, Czech Republic, and the Technical University of Prague.

Current healthcare challenges, such as the ageing of Europe’s population and cardiovascular disease, require multidisciplinary approaches for diagnosis, treatment and design of medical devices. The focus of this unique summer school is to establish a platform of cooperation between medicine and engineering across Europe starting at an undergraduate level.    The aim of the summer school was to enable students with different working cultures and educational backgrounds, to work together efficiently by getting small groups designing new, novel medical devices targeting specific medical and clinical problems. These include the design of a total replacement for a degenerated ankle, solutions for revascularization of the lower limbs, technologies to empower the elderly and the design of artificial ventilation and gas exchange systems.

Engineering and medical students from across europe participating in the international summer school in engineering and medicine at the trinity centre for bioengineering.
Engineering and Medical students from across Europe participating in the International Summer School in Engineering and Medicine at the Trinity Centre for Bioengineering.

“The impact of this summer school has been to ignite enthusiasm and passion among undergraduate engineering and medical students for the challenges and opportunities in bioengineering”, stated the Director of the Centre of Bioengineering at the Trinity College, Professor Richard Reilly. “Given that there are currently over 11,000 medical technology companies in Europe, exporting €65bn worth of products annually and employing 500,000 people, it is critical that we can demonstrate to these students that engineering innovation and creative design can meet the challenges in healthcare, continue the growth of the medical device sector and facilitate the delivery of the best medical care possible.”

To have the educational basis to undertake these challenges, the students took courses delivered by leading European Professors of Biomedical Engineering and Medicine. The medical students were instructed in bio-engineering methods (materials science, biomechanics and mathematics) necessary to successfully work in biomedical engineering while engineering students are being instructed in anatomy and physiology. All students were taught design methodologies for furthering their ability to understand, analyse and successfully conceptualize innovative medical device and active implant concepts using a multidisciplinary team approach.

“We want future biomedical engineers and clinicians to understand both disciplines,” stated Professor Bart Verkerke, President of the European Society of Engineering and Medicine and Secretary General of the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University Medical Centre, Groningen.

On Friday, July 17th the students presented their final designs and received their certificate from the Vice-Provost/Chief Academic Officer of Trinity College Dublin and Professor of Bioengineering, Professor Patrick Prendergast. The projects’ outcomes will be published on the society’s website ( to circulate the results to the medical device industry. The result of this collaboration will lead to continued interaction with the students throughout their undergraduate career through the network established by ESEM. The Summer School is partly funded by the European Commission’s FP7 programme.


The success of the summer school project has greatly assisted the ESEM being awarded the first common European master’s course in Biomedical Engineering under the Erasmus Mundus programme. This will provide a critical platform for the next generation of leaders in biomedical engineering in Europe.