Engineering (mechanical engineering systems)
Hometown: Phoenix, Arizona
Graduation date: Summer 2021
MORE | Spring 2021
3D Printed Indirect Ophthalmoscope Accessory for Mobile Device
Ophthalmoscopes are integral to diagnosing a variety of eye conditions, however, they often come at a hefty cost and are not generally portable making access limited. With the increase in the prevalence of smart devices and improvements to their imaging capabilities, these devices have the potential to benefit areas where specialized imaging infrastructure is not well established. Smart device cameras alone do not have the capability to replace an ophthalmoscope, however, with the addition of lens and optics, it becomes possible to take diagnostic quality images. The goal is to design a modular system that acts as an adapter to a smart device enabling any user to take both retinal images and corneal images with little to no previous experience.
Mentor: Troy McDaniel
Featured project | Spring 2021
Dean Spyres is a graduate student in The Polytechnic School engineering program participating in the Master’s Opportunity for Research in Engineering, or MORE, program, which presents at the FURI Symposium. He is creating a 3D-printed modular lens and optical device for smartphone cameras for eye imaging. Spyres is working on this project with his mentor, Assistant Professor Troy McDaniel, in partnership with the Mayo Clinic and sponsored by W. L. Gore & Associates to fund additional materials. Spyres will work on this ongoing project, which he hopes will reduce the amount of services and treatments patients need to go through and help more medical personnel to help patients without the need of specialized equipment.
What made you want to get involved in MORE?
I was interested in participating in the MORE program because I thought it would be a good opportunity to practice writing proposals, creating a poster and discussing my research. In addition, the $400 materials budget was useful for buying supplies for the project, especially during the pandemic when labs have been closed and I am partially limited to the tools I have at home.
How did you get started with this project?
This project to develop a modular optical scope device for a smartphone camera started as my senior capstone. Unfortunately, when ASU went virtual it became difficult to work on the project and the team lacked the access to resources to get it completed. I was disappointed that I was unable to see the project through to the end. But when I found out I was accepted to the master’s program, I quickly looked to find a faculty advisor and funding to continue the project for my thesis.
I was interested in this work because of the partnership with Mayo Clinic and the possibility that this modular optical device has a real application. I enjoyed working with the staff at Mayo Clinic and felt bad that we were not able to complete the project by the end of my capstone. Ultimately, I decided that I would be the one to finish the project.
Did you have a particular “aha!” moment during your project?
There wasn’t one particular “aha!” moment that I can recall. However, I do catch myself saying “oh that’s interesting” or “maybe this works.” This is primarily because I am constantly learning about the problem and creative solutions other people are proposing. This process has further intensified my interest. I use the second phase when designing parts, and I am often unsure if they will work or not.
How will your engineering research project impact the world?
The goal of this project was to design and produce a device that would increase the accessibility to diagnostic quality retinal and corneal images to the broader health care community. By enabling more personnel to document a patient’s condition while being treated, it provides the patient with a more comfortable experience and reduces the workload on physicians and specialists. This device is ideal for smaller community clinics that may not have specialized ophthalmology equipment or for medical mission trips abroad. Furthermore, with the recent increase in telemedicine popularity, this device may one day become viable for consumers to take images of their eye and send it to their physician for diagnostic purposes.
How do you see this experience helping with your career goals?
Part of the reason I decided to pursue a project with Mayo Clinic was the possibility to connect and network with some of the physicians and staff. This was important for me because I am pursuing a career in medicine with the hopes of becoming a surgeon one day. Having the possibility to talk to and learn from some of the best in the medical field was an opportunity I was unable to turn down.
What is an important skill for student researchers?
Communication is a very important skill to consistently practice and improve upon. You may have the best technical knowledge and very ambition to create or design. However, if you are unable to communicate the benefit or impact your work will have and instill that image in someone else’s mind, your work may not receive the recognition it deserves.
What are your biggest takeaways from this project and the MORE program?
This project has taught me to focus on the process, not the outcome. Because I have been working on this project for multiple semesters, I have learned to appreciate and value the process behind discovery and design. Previous projects of mine have not had the breadth of scope like this project. I have learned to celebrate the small wins and work through the difficult times when it seems like nothing is progressing.
Lastly, I would like to thank my thesis advisor, Professor Troy McDaniel, and my collaborators at Mayo Clinic, Dr. Dave Patel, Pete Pallagi and Jenny Ho, for their belief in me and support throughout the project.
First photo caption: Pete Pallagi (left), manager of enterprise photography for Mayo Clinic, Dean Spyres (center), an engineering graduate student, and and Dr. Dave Patel (right), a Mayo Clinic ophthalmologist, conduct a demonstration at Mayo Clinic for a research project in the MORE program. His project with Assistant Professor Troy McDaniel (not pictured) focuses on developing a 3D-printed modular device to turn smartphone cameras into eye imaging devices to improve access to eye care. This research project is being conducted in partnership with Mayo Clinic and sponsored by W. L. Gore & Associates.
Sponsored project | Spring 2021
W. L. Gore & Associates is a uniquely creative, product leadership enterprise that has served a variety of global markets for 60 years, and provides innovative solutions that its associates stand behind. Gore established funds to support undergraduate students in the Fulton Undergraduate Research Initiative program and graduate students in the Master’s Opportunity for Research in Engineering program, and values student-driven research and developing relationships with students in the programs.