Automated Air Removal Device for Infusion Pump; A Social Perspective on the Development of Satellite Technology

Alvarado, Manuel, School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Virginia
JACQUES, RICHARD, EN-Engineering and Society, University of Virginia
Powell, Harry, EN-Elec/Computer Engr Dept, University of Virginia

Rural America’s need for high-speed satellite internet is imperative. There is little incentive for companies to build terrestrial internet infrastructure in rural areas due to prohibitive costs and low population densities. As an alternative solution, companies seeking to launch constellations of low-Earth-orbit satellites can address this need. The STS portion of the thesis focuses on the environmental impact from launching constellations of satellites, and provides suggestions on steps to take. The technical portion of the thesis is not coupled with the STS portion of the thesis. The technical portion of the thesis produced a device that automatically vibrates intravenous lines to reduce the amount of times healthcare workers must manually remove air bubbles. My proposed technical research paper on satellite technology as outlined in the prospectus is the foundation for my STS research paper.
In my STS research paper, I complete a literature review of the space debris junk and ocean pollution environmental concerns. The unprecedented number of planned spacecraft launches from private companies is certain to exacerbate the problem of increasing space debris junk in orbit. The space debris issue can be mitigated with the safe method of de-orbiting spacecraft into the ocean, which brings its own host of ocean pollution problems. Based on the literature review, my STS research paper has produced guidelines to mitigate the environmental concerns with satellite weight restrictions, minimum years of satellite operations, a call for comprehensive deep ocean studies, and a renewed effort at international agency collaboration for space clean up. The technical portion of the thesis produced a device that vibrates intravenous lines that have air bubbles in them. In normal cases, healthcare workers need to unplug intravenous (IV) tubes from patients and manually flick the tubes to remove the air bubbles whenever the pump alarm is sounded. In our design, the IV pump continues to monitor for air bubbles and sound the alarm, but our device will auditorily detect the alarm and attempt to mechanically remove the air bubbles early before manual intervention is required from healthcare workers. The goal is to reduce the amount of downtime healthcare workers need to spend on this repetitive task that can be better spent on other tasks.
My work on the technical and STS projects has made me realize the importance of sustainability, research, and standards organizations. We produced several iterations of the project prototype, which are now electronic waste. We had not anticipatedproducing that much electronic waste with a device that has a footprint of two inches by three inches. A better planning stage and foresight could have led to less electronic waste with careful verification of design choices. In addition, there are multiple regulations and processes a prototype would need to clear, which means if we had not pivoted to a proof-of-concept product rather than a true product during the mid-project stages, more electronic waste would also have been produced with further iterations to meet the stringent federal regulations. Furthermore, I have learned from both my STS and technical research papers the importance of clear guidance and research. The IADC, IEEE, ISO, and the IPC are just a few organizations with standards that we have directly interacted with regards to space debris mitigation, PCB traces, and waste disposal. The STS concerns raised are not new as I have discovered there are many working in collaboration behind the scenes in non-profit and public organizations to address the space debris junk and ocean pollution concerns. Their work is important and yet at the same time largely unacknowledged by the general public.

BS (Bachelor of Science)
satellite, internet, LEO

School of Engineering and Applied Science
Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering
Technical Advisor: Harry Powell
STS Advisor: Richard Jacques
Technical Team Members: Manuel Alvarado, Leah Bianchi, Orian Churney, Quinn Lewis, Bradley Lund

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