Face Time: Ben Nadeau, electromechanical engineer extraordinaire

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When Ben Nadeau and his Gentoo teammates created a portable infusion harness, they just wanted to help people.

The $10,000 prize they recently won? That will help them help. 

Nadeau, an electromechanical engineering student at the Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston, was part of the team that created the harness. If produced and put on the market, it will allow patients to get the medication infusions they need even as they take a shower, run errands and go about their day. 

For some, the harness could be a life saver.

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For Nadeau, it could shape his future.

Name: Ben Nadeau

Age: 22

Hometown: Sabattus

What, exactly, is electromechanical engineering? It combines both the electronic and mechanical sides of engineering into one hybrid program. It bridges the gap between both types of engineering in the sense that we can apply an electrical system to a mechanical device and vice versa without the need for two different engineers.

What got you interested in that? My indecisiveness . . . When applying to school I knew I wanted to be in the engineering field but was unsure of which discipline. Luckily, Wentworth allowed me to do both without making the decision.

I hear you and your friends won the top Accelerate prize at WIT. Describe your project: Our project is the portable infusion harness. It allows for patients undergoing infusion treatments, for instance patients going through cancer treatments, to maintain some freedom. Currently, patients are required to stay in the hospital for the duration of their treatment or are sent home with awkward equipment that limits their lifestyle. We designed this harness to increase their freedom, mobility, as well as flexibility in their treatment applications.

Is there a big need for that? We unfortunately have had people close to us go through infusion treatments and they were all having similar issues with the current process. The more we researched it, we found the problem to be more widespread than initially thought. So, yes, there is a definite need.

How much did you win? We were the top funded team at this semester’s Accelerate competition, winning a total of $10,000! We are very excited about it.

What will you do with the money? ($10K would buy a lot of pizza . . .) While $10,000 does buy a lot of food for a group of broke college kids, unfortunately none of it will be going toward that. We are dedicated to our product, as well as those who will be using it, so all of our funding will be going toward research and development, as well as building our prototypes and bringing our product to market.

Have you ever done anything like this project before? Being in my final year of the electromechanical engineering program here, I have been fortunate in working on a lot of design projects, including a hybrid engine, implementing nanoparticles into heat sinks, as well as my final project, intelligent aerodynamic systems, which implements shape memory alloys into aircraft. The portable infusion harness, while simplistic in comparison, is the first project I worked on that is not graded but will be released to the general public as a product. It is a different mindset than I am used to.

What kind of future do you see for the portable infusion harness? I see this becoming the future of infusion treatments and being implemented in many hospitals and sold in medical supply stores.

Why the team name Gentoo? Gentoo is actually a work in progress. It was originally used because of the Gentoo penguin and its adaptability to harsh conditions. However, we may be changing the name to better brand our future company.

What would you like to do after college? I want to gain as much engineering experience as possible and possibly start my own business someday. Which may be sooner than originally planned if our current product continues to grow. Right now, I am taking it a day at a time and capitalizing on every opportunity I am presented with.

Do you see yourself more as an inventor or as an entrepreneur? I would say both. I have had to play so many roles in this project, and as an engineer I am always innovating and inventing. In addition, growing up and working for my parents’ company, Bedard Medical, I have always had the motivation to be an entrepreneur.

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