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UW-Eau Claire’s Maya Frodl wins award for innovative project at the 2022 WiSys SPARK Symposium

Maya Frodl, left, shows off the award-winning student project during the WiSys SPARK Symposium in August.

LA CROSSE—Two UW System students were recognized for presenting innovative projects at the WiSys SPARK Symposium in early August.

The award winners were:

  • Maya Frodl, UW-Eau Claire (1st)
  • Kevin Riley, UW-Superior (2nd)

The symposium is WiSys’ annual celebration of the best and brightest researchers, innovators and entrepreneurs working in or with the UW System’s 11 regional universities. This year’s event was held at UW-La Crosse and was attended by nearly 200 people, half of which were student

Students had the opportunity to present a research poster or showcase an innovative project during the Student Research Poster & Innovation Showcase, which was evaluated by a team of faculty and staff judges.


UW-Eau Claire student, Maya Frodl, took first place and a $750 prize for the innovation “3D Printing to Improve Patient Outcomes: An Analysis on Mini-Thoracotomy Aortic Valve Replacements.”

UW-Eau CLaire students Laura Glenna and Saige Tichy were additional team members for the project. The faculty advisor was Dr. Doug Dunahm, chair of the Materials Science and Biomedical Engineering Department at UW-Eau Claire.

  • PROJECT ABSTRACT: “Aortic valve replacement (AVR) was established in the 1960’s and has become a routine therapy to treat patients with severe aortic valve dysfunction. AVR is usually performed using a full sternotomy and cardiopulmonary bypass support. Since the late 1990’s, minimally invasive procedures have been developed for aortic valve surgeries, such as the mini-thoracotomy AVR. These less invasive procedures claim reduced postoperative complications, shorter lengths of stays in the hospital, and lower mortality. This project will provide the 3D printing capabilities needed to investigate if using 3D printed anatomical models result in better patient outcomes for mini-thoracotomy AVR surgery. The 3D printed models will also be used for educational purposes with providers at Mayo Clinic. For selected patient cases, the Mayo clinician will provide UWEC researchers DICOM files for segmentation and 3D printing. In collaboration with the clinicians, the UWEC research team will perform the segmentation and provide the physical 3D anatomical model. Ultimately, the Mayo Clinic collaborators will evaluate the effectiveness of using the 3D models in patient outcomes as well as patient education on the procedure.”


WiSys President Arjun Sanga, left, presents Kevin Riley, right, with a certificate for second place in the innovation showcase at the WiSys SPARK Symposium in August. (Photo: Sashi Popke, UW-La Crosse)

UW-Superior student Kevin Riley earned second place and a $500 prize for the innovation “Time synchronization for battery-powered clocks.”

  • PROJECT ABSTRACT: “The design of hardware and the implementation of the microcontroller firmware to create a synchronizer for synchronization of a digital alarm clock in real time. The clock and alarm can be set or synchronized with a smartphone via Bluetooth interface and a special mobile app being far more convenient than doing it with the traditional button presses. The synchronizer unit is intended for clock time synchronization with an external NTP server. It periodically obtains time from such a server via WiFi interface and the NTP (Network Time Protocol) and uses it to set its internal reference clock. This reference clock, in turn, is used to automatically synchronize all other household clocks which are assembled according to our design. We emphasize using Bluetooth interface for time/alarm setup because it has far lower power requirements compared to WiFi, which is essential for long term operation of battery-powered clocks from the same battery cell. Demonstration of such a device and its synchronizer will be provided.”

Riley’s faculty advisor for this project was Dr. Sergei Bezroukov.

WiSys is a nonprofit organization that works with faculty, staff, students and alumni of the UW System to facilitate cutting-edge research programs, develop and commercialize discoveries, and foster a spirit of innovative and entrepreneurial thinking across the state.