High School Student Wins Innovative Engineering Award: Work Focused on Analyzing Lung Sounds in Noisy Environments for Improved Critical Patient Care

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Contact Name: 
Stacey A. Ober
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Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Kelles Gordge, a 10th grade student at Great Mills High School, has been awarded the prestigious National NSPE/PEI Innovative Engineering Award by the National Society of Professional Engineers and its Professional Engineers in Industry group. Her project, titled "Take a Deep Breath," was chosen from more than 500 science fair winners across the nation and focused on building an instrument to analyze lung sounds in a noisy environment (ambulance or helicopter) and revolutionize the way these sounds are interpreted by providing advanced acoustical and visual displays.

After interviews with emergency medical service personnel, Gordge used the systems engineering approach to design, build, test, and evaluate her device. She built several prototypes of stethoscopes with microphones, or "stethophones" as she calls them, testing them in both quiet conditions and in the field with help from her local volunteer rescue squad. Utilizing Fast Fourier Transforms, she was able to convert the acoustical signals from the time domain into the frequency domain, allowing lung sounds to be displayed for visual interpretation. Gordge plans to continue her work, developing software algorithms to automatically interpret the FFTs for normal and abnormal lung sounds, incorporating Blue Tooth technology, and working to transmit the FFT to a hospital prior to the patient's arrival.

In addition to receiving this award, Gordge was also honored this year for continuing her project titled "Critical Point of View: Engineering a Device to Monitor Critical Care Patients." She received the First Place in Medicine and Health, as well as First Place Senior Division Grand Award at both the St. Mary's County Fair and the Prince George's Area Science Fair. She has now advanced and will attend the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Los Angeles in May.

The NSPE/PEI Innovative Engineering Award is given by NSPE and its Professional Engineers in Industry group to recognize the most outstanding engineering project at each regional Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. Recipients are students, grades 7–12, who receive a certificate and lapel pin to mark their award. One winner is selected from this pool to receive the National NSPE/PEI Innovative Engineering Award, which includes a $1,000 prize in addition to the certificate and pin. Criteria for selection for the national award include:

  • Demonstrated technical competence;
  • Superior verbal and written presentation of the project;
  • Professional appearance and demeanor;
  • Awareness of ethical implications of engineering is preferred; and
  • Preference is given to projects in the engineering category—projects from another category must demonstrate applied engineering principles.

For more information on the award and how to apply, please visit www.nspe.org/InterestGroups/PEI/Resources/Awards/pei_innovativeaward.html or contact Erin Reyes at 703-684-2884.

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The National Society of Professional Engineers is the national society of licensed professional engineers from all disciplines that promotes the ethical and competent practice of engineering, advocates licensure, and enhances the image and well-being of its members. Founded in 1934, NSPE has been promoting professional excellence for over 75 years. NSPE serves more than 43,000 members and the public through 53 state and territorial societies and more than 500 chapters. For more information, please visit www.nspe.org.