BME Senior Design Wins Honors in Innovation Competition

Aug 11 2015

A team of five Columbia Engineering biomedical engineering majors received second place honors in the national BMEStart competition for their invention OstoCare, a device to prevent leakage from ostomy bags. BMEStart, one of the preeminent and most competitive engineering design competitions in the country, recognizes promising undergraduate biomedical innovation and technologies that address real clinical needs.


L-R: Team members Wilson Ho, Alan Czemerinski, Molly Karna, Shruthi Nammalwar, and Sandeep Palepu

OstoCare team members Wilson Ho, Alan Czemerinski, Molly Karna, Shruthi Nammalwar, and Sandeep Palepu, who were advised by Professor Samuel Sia and Dr. Ravi Kiran, developed the novel continence device to prevent common leakage problems in ostomy bags. Professor Aaron Kyle, who teaches the capstone senior design course, said that the OstoCare team exhibited outstanding engineering acumen and uncommon diligence throughout the Senior Design process.

“We are very proud of this group and their significant accomplishment. This is the best finish we’ve had in BMEStart!” said Kyle. “We look forward to the further development of the OstoCare device, which meets a significant need for many patients who have had surgery on the colon or small intestine.”

Nearly two million patients world-wide have undergone ostomy surgeries. In these procedures, the intestine is transected and redirected outside the abdomen through a stoma. Waste is collected in ostomy bags, which must be changed several times a week and often leak, causing severe irritation and social as well as physical discomfort. OstoCare is an insertable, inflatable ostomy bag coupler that prevents leakage into the stoma by creating a secure seal and improving the adhesion of ostomy bags to patients’ abdomens. It is low-cost and compatible with standard ostomy bag systems.


The OstoCare team developed a novel continence device to prevent common leakage problems in ostomy bags.

In the BMEStart competition, the OstoCare team received high marks for their contribution to human health and quality of life; technological innovation; understanding of the economic and regulatory landscape; and potential for device commercialization. They will receive a $5000 cash prize and recognition at the Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES) annual meeting in Tampa this fall.