Student Profile: Nicholas Hill

Undergraduate researcher Nicholas Hill is building better prosthesis for patients.

Major: Electrical Engineering

Mentor: Dr. Faete Filho

Department: Engineering

Project Title: “An advanced control system for hand prosthesis for candidates with trans radial amputation”

I am using an electroencephalogram (EEG) system to detect brainwaves in an attempt to gather additional control signals for fine motor control of a simulated hand prosthesis.

How did you get involved in undergraduate research?

I became involved in undergraduate research due to a lab course with Dr. Faete Filho that researched solar energy.

Why did you choose your research topic?

I chose my topic because I wanted to create a more affordable alternative to prosthesis than the ones currently available through the American medical system.

What’s been your favorite part of conducting undergraduate research?

My favorite part about conducting undergraduate research, specifically this project, is that it is an entirely new project for me. There are plenty of opportunities to learn new methods for fabrication and different control systems.

What challenges have you faced while conducting undergraduate research?

It’s a very involved process to go from input signals to interpreting them in a useful manner. From there, creating a system to decide what signals correlate to what output reactions of the hand is complicated as well. Finally, having a testing system to respond to the control systems output is a project in itself. There are a lot of parts to get in order for this project to succeed.

Why is your research important for the average, everyday person?

I hope my research will be very impact for those who need to use prosthetic devices, but are unable to afford currently approved medical devices by providing them alternative options.

What’s your ultimate goal or accomplishment that you hope your research will help you achieve?

After I have a working model with a tested output, the hand designs and control systems will be uploaded to the E-nable group which coordinates free prosthetic designs and maker workshops with people who need prosthesis for an affordable alternative to costly prosthetic devices.

How do you feel that participating in undergraduate research has helped prepare you for life after college?

A lot of my engineering courses, specifically circuits, control systems, and signal processing, have helped me with this project for the electronic side. Graphics design helped to model the hand for testing using Solidworks as well.

Do you have any advice for other students interested in conducting undergraduate research?

Do well in courses and professors will approach you for research opportunities. Aside from that, being proactive in networking and requesting meetings with professors to discuss their research helps as well.