University of New Brunswick

UNB Alumni News Fall 2017

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35 ALUMNI NEWS I shtar Al-Tahir (BScEng'17) always loved middle and high school physics classes in Trinidad and Tobago, where she grew up, and then at Fredericton High School during her last year when she moved to New Brunswick with her family. So, when it was time to go to university, she naturally enrolled in science at UNB. It wasn't long into her first year however, that she realized she was more interested in the application of science, so in her second year, she enrolled in electrical engineering. As part of her senior year design course, Al-Tahir and three of her classmates teamed up to develop Project Qi, a real-time mapping and monitoring system that notifies health care specialists when a pressure ulcer may develop. The team talked with occupational therapists to learn what challenges they and their patients faced. "We were told that patients who were bedridden due to stroke, surgery or chronic illness have a high likelihood of developing painful pressure ulcers, or bedsores, which get infected and are tricky and costly to heal," says Al-Tahir. Armed with this knowledge, Al-Tahir and the team began developing a solution, which, after many iterations and feedback from the medical community, became Project Qi. It consists of a smart mat for the patient's bed that measures pressure buildup over time. The information is then translated by software, which provides a visual graphic interface and auditory alarm system that prevents pressure ulcers. The technology provides a risk analysis for both the patient and their caregiver – whether health professionals or family members – and is poised to be a welcome aide in health care and quality of life. The Project Qi team was successful in two pitch competitions, won a Social Impact Award, and HELPING TO GROW THE MEDICAL TECHNOLOGY INDUSTRY IN NEW BRUNSWICK secured grant funding from UNB's Technology Commercialization Program to further develop the technology. Since graduating last May, Al-Tahir and the Project Qi team have been working on upgrading the hardware and software prototypes. Al-Tahir is currently enrolled in the master of electrical engineering program, focussing on biomedical engineering, and will continue to build on Project Qi throughout her graduate studies. "UNB's biomedical engineering program is known for providing hands-on training so students can live what they study," says Al-Tahir. "This is a field that I really hope I can be a part of, helping to build an even bigger New Brunswick." If Al-Tahir tackles her graduate program with the same dedication and energy she expended during her under- graduate years at UNB, there's no doubt she'll succeed. Outside of academia, Al-Tahir immerses herself in university life and community outreach. As an undergraduate, she was treasurer and secretary of UNB's International Student Association and volunteered with the Multicultural Association of Fredericton. She also tutored students at Frontier College, a national literacy organization, and was a physics mentor in the Peer Assisted Learning program for first-year science students. In 2016, Al-Tahir and fellow students, Anshuman Sarawagi (MScEng'16) and Jillian Lamb, received the UNB Unsung Hero Award. When asked why she does so much within the community, she humbly smiles and says, "Why learn knowledge if you can't share it? Giving to others gives my life purpose." • Project Qi is made up of Ishtar Al-Tahir, Chien Dat Nguyen Dinh (BScEng'17), Nicolas Pelletier (BScEng'17), and Shawn Randall (BScEng'17). | ALUMNI stories |

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