Ashley Mitchell earns SHPE poster competition award

1/14/2020 Susan McKenna

Ashley Mitchell, Bioengineering senior, earns Third Place award in SHPE poster competition for research on AR training device for pediatric code cart use.

Written by Susan McKenna

Ashley Mitchell, Bioengineering senior at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, recently earned a Third Place award and $500 in the poster competition at the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) 2019 national convention in Phoenix.

The convention attracted more than 8,000 students, professionals, academia and industry leaders and "serves as the country’s largest gathering of Hispanic STEM students and professionals,” according to the SHPE website.

Mitchell is first author on the research poster, "Evaluation of an Augmented Reality Code Cart Application Using Eye-Tracking Technology." The poster describes a new software application designed by engineers in the Jump Simulation Center at Illinois (located in Everitt Lab, also the home of the Department of Bioengineering) that is intended to help train medical professionals to quickly find the contents of the pediatric code cart used when patients go into cardiac arrest. As pediatric resuscitations are infrequent, clinicians possibly could forget locations of the contents during situations when timing is critical and children's lives are at risk. Mitchell's team assessed the efficacy of the application, and the prize-winning poster is a result of that effort.

"The objective is to evaluate clinician performance before and after using the AR application," Mitchell said. "This mobile application is designed to orient the clinician on the contents of a code cart. ... We hope that, after using the app for about two weeks, the clinicians can decrease their search time and improve their accuracy when using a code cart in a realtime situation. If the results of the study support that the clinicians were able to retrieve tools from the code cart more efficiently and accurately, then the next step would be to see how this app can be incorporated into a clinical setting: Will the clinicians be required to use the app, and if so, for how long? More efficient and accurate tool retrieval translates to getting to the patient quicker in order to save them."

Mitchell works as an undergraduate research assistant in the Human Factors in Sociotechnical Systems Lab, led by Abigail Wooldridge, assistant professor in Industrial and Enterprise Systems Engineering at Illinois. After taking a Human Factors course with Wooldridge, Mitchell talked with her professor about doing research, an interest she had yet to fulfill, and learned that she could become part of the lab during the summer. It was an opportunity Mitchell jumped on, and she joined Wooldridge's lab in Summer 2019.

Mitchell expects to earn her bachelor's degree in Bioengineering in May 2021, and following graduation she primarily is interested in designing, developing and improving medical devices.

"Human Factors is also a really interesting topic to me — designing things to be more ergonomic and usable for others," Mitchell said. "I love to talk about ergonomic design and hope to be able to apply human factors to the medical device industry," she added. "I am really passionate about safe and quality healthcare, because we all deserve it. … and I am interested in exploring how I can have an impact on this industry as an engineer.”

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This story was published January 14, 2020.