Engineering Hero: IVs Can Be Sensible Too

November 08, 2023

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Engineering Hero: IVs Can Be Sensible Too

Welcome to the fifth installment of Engineering Heroes, sponsored by Wind River, where we take a closer look at the lives of unsung heroes in the world of engineering whose work impacts uncountable lives across the globe. See the bottom of the article for additional content on Samer Mabrouk and our other heroes.

Samer Mabrouk might, maybe, be just a little uneasy around needles. Which is an interesting characteristic for someone developing a project that centers around IVs — yes, like the ones used in hospitals.

But rewinding, Samer is a postdoctoral research fellow at the Georgia Institute of Technology. He grew up in Cairo, Egypt, and didn’t come stateside until halfway through his undergraduate degree in college.

He was always interested in building things, in creating; so much so that, as a child, when he did well on tests in school, he would always ask his parents for Legos as a reward. Compound that interest with the fact that he grew up smack in the middle of the dawn of smartphones and was fascinated by the technology, and we’ve got a good recipe for a burgeoning engineer.

Now, while Samer may have been a destined engineer, finding a focus for his research and career proved to be a little more difficult. In fact, he hadn’t even initially been interested in pursuing a PhD. During his schooling, though, he interned at Tesla for a semester, did two internships with Panasonic Automotive, and after completing his undergrad, worked for a year at Dell as a software engineer.

The software and automotive spaces weren’t the end-all for Samer, though, so he returned to Georgia Tech, where his advisor worked frequently in bioengineering. And this was the field Samer finally found his passion drawn to, because of the hands-on nature of the work and the visible impact it has on people’s lives.

Saving Life and Limb… Literally

IV therapy is something most people are familiar with — it’s just a method of delivering some sort of fluid straight into a patient’s vein via a needle attached to a polymer catheter. But sometimes, the vein that needle is inserted into can weaken, or if the patient moves a bit, it can become dislodged, causing the fluid to leak into the surrounding area. This is called an IV infiltration. In severe cases, especially in pediatrics or dealing with aggressive fluids like those administered in chemotherapy, infiltrations can cause enough damage to warrant amputation of the affected limb.

There are existing protocols in place for assessing any damage caused by an infiltration event that depend on the type of fluid being administered, the volume of fluid buildup, and the size of the patient. But after questioning medical staff in a children’s hospital about some issues they wanted to see solutions to, one of the top answers Samer received was a method to detect infiltration events upon occurrence in order to mitigate severe damage to the patient’s limb.

Thus, Samer’s master’s project was born. He, along with the help of his advisor, started working on developing a sensor to attach to IVs that would be able to detect an infiltration upon occurrence and notify medical staff immediately, before the fluid has a chance to build up too much and cause lasting damage.

Between the birth of this project in 2017 and now, Samer and those he’s been collaborating with have gone through about six different versions of their system and have been able to run clinical tests and gather approximately 1000 hours of data from around 60 patients. The gathered data was used to retrospectively test the sensor system’s algorithm for accuracy and specificity. Now, the system runs entirely in C in real time and has received very positive feedback from the FDA.

Samer is working on getting this sensor system on the market and into clinicians’ hands within the next couple of years, where it will do a lot of good for people’s health — especially in pediatrics, a subject weighing heavily on his mind since the birth of his son around a year ago.

Editor's Note: For more Engineering Hero content, check out the links below.

Daire McNamara, Director and Firmware Engineer, Emdalo Technologies:

Nandini Kappiah, Senior Director of Software Engineering, Google:

Valentyn Hlukhotskyy, Senior Java Software Engineer, Euristiq:

Levi Zima, RF Microwave Engineer:

Samer Mabrouk, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Georgia Institute of Technology: