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By working to perfect an outdated system that tests artificial hearts, Farhan Ahmed ’05 (Utter Pradesh, India) is laying steppingstones that will reduce animal testing, lower the cost of artificial heart testing, and provide a teaching tool for cardiovascular physiology students.

Ahmed is conducting this research as an EXCEL Scholar under the guidance of Yih-Choung Yu, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering. In EXCEL, students work closely with faculty on research while earning a stipend.

Yu has authored more than a dozen articles published in journals and conference proceedings within his field, and has given presentations at conferences in Australia, China, Philadelphia, and elsewhere. He holds U.S. and international patents related to his research and is listed in the 2002 Who’s Who in America and the 1999 International Who’s Who of Professionals. Yu received a $12,000 grant from the Lindback Foundation to fund his research on heart assist devices.

“It is basically a simulation of the human heart that uses electrical circuits,” says Ahmed, a double major in electrical and computer engineering and mathematics-economics. “We take the parameters of the heart and convert them into electrical engineering terms.”

Ahmed and Yu are collaborating with James Antaki, owner of Antakamatics, Inc., a Pittsburgh-based company that hopes to manufacture the improved testing system.

Ahmed says this research has given him an in-depth view of electrical engineering and how it can be applied.

“I was able to see how my work will benefit people in the real world,” he adds. “Programming is like an art form to me. It can be made better every time you look at it.”

This semester, Ahmed devoted much time to learning computer programs like MATLAB and Simulink, and he will be conducting simulations during January’s interim session between regular semesters.

He hopes to present his findings at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research this spring.

“I was looking for someone who has knowledge of software development,” says Yu. “Already Farhan has solved some problems we couldn’t solve for several months.”

Ahmed calls Yu a caring and helpful mentor. “He has given me space and freedom,” he says. “I experiment and learn in my own way, but I can go to him for guidance if I’m stuck.”

Ahmed is the third in a line of Lafayette students to conduct research on this project. Electrical and computer engineering majors Matthew Loh, a junior from Tokyo, Japan, and Christopher Royle, a senior from Stockton, N.J., have previously made valuable contributions.

A member of Association for Computing Machinery, Ahmed was a member of a Lafayette group that placed 23rd in a field of 138 teams at the International Collegiate Programming Contest last month. Ahmed helped launch Linux Users Group, which has 24 active members, and belongs to International Students Association, Muslim Students Association, and Asian Cultural Association.

Categorized in: Academic News