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PMDE ICU Bed Prototype Project

Project Management Design and Entrepreneurship (PMDE) is a class all LeTourneau Mechanical Engineering students get to take. Through the class, the students learn about project management, design, engineering ethics and economics as well as how to put them all together in entrepreneurship. As part of the class, students participate in a team to complete a project. This project facilitates the real-world learning of the skills discussed in the lectures. By working on a project together in a team, the students gain a practical application of the class material.

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

            The project for the fall semester of 2021 was to design and construct a fully functional ¼ scale prototypical ICU bed. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown a great need for ICU beds. Not only is there a greater need for ICU beds to take care of patients, there is also a new functionality required of them: proning. Proning is the process by which a patient is carefully rotated from lying on their back to lying on their stomach. Through research and studies, it has been discovered that proning greatly increases a patient’s oxygen intake, as well as reduces the need for a ventilator. Additionally, this functionality would be helpful in positioning patients with burns and preventing bed sores. Currently, the process of proning is accomplished by a team of more than four nurses, requiring a large amount of time and effort as well as strain on the personnel. By automating this process, the load on the staff and overhead costs of the hospital would be reduced.

            Working on teams of five to six members, students will generate a novel method of proning a patient and incorporate it into a fully functional model of an ICU bed. The bed must be able to mimic a real ICU bed by moving up and down and providing adjustable sitting positions through 90 degrees. Limited to a budget of $200, the students will learn resourcefulness and engineering economics as they build the bed within the budget. Through the generous donations from companies like Stepperonline (, students can gain real-world experience in product design and teamwork. By the end of the project, a fully functional model will be designed, tested, and built, as well as a thorough final report delivered on the project and its progress.

ez-back team photoEZ-BACK is one of the student teams working on this PMDE project.

Course faculty: Dr. Gitogo Churu, Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering

Image: Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash