This July, Dr. Matthew Rickard was named chair of bioengineering at California Baptist University and has been inspiring engineering students with his inventions.
Two years after graduating from the University of California at Irvine in 2005 with a Ph.D. in mechanical and aerospace engineering, Rickard worked for Alcon, a global medical company.
During his time at Alcon, he developed multiple patents for eye-related implants and devices, most of them dealing with glaucoma prevention and monitoring.
“I was excited to be able to apply my mechanical engineering to medical devices,” Rickard said.
In the 2013-2014 academic year, several senior engineering students selected Rickard’s invention as their capstone projects, which focused on glaucoma research for developing glaucoma risk monitors ideas.
“We were all basically given a list of projects with explanations of each one,” said Mary Elizabeth Hanson, senior electrical and computer engineering double major. “Then after that, we talked to our client, who in this case was Dr. Rickard, and we asked him all kinds of questions about what he was looking for.”
After discussing designs, students researched similar inventions and began developing their own ideas.
While much of the research and development is governed by non-disclosure agreements, the capstone teams designed and built prototypes based on the CBU patent for wearable glasses that use a small sensor to monitor eye pressure.
“The idea is to get earlier on, either people who are aware of (having) glaucoma or the onset of glaucoma, so they can start getting relative data,” Rickard said.
The data gathered is important for relaying information to clinicians who can better decide what kind of medication or treatment the patient needs.
CBU and the inventors are now hoping their prototype will be picked up by startup companies that can create a more fine-tuned version of their invention for mass production.
“I’ve become really inspired by Dr. Rickard’s work,” Hanson said. “Glaucoma, and many other diseases like it, is affecting a lot of people, and this project was so inspiring to me because it showed me how much I can help people with my talents.”