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The Capstone Design class at Northeastern University is a very challenging course that spans two semesters. It involves giving a team of students an open-ended project which is taken through the entire engineering process and concludes with the construction of a working prototype. Below is a brief description and overview of the project as well as an explanation of my role throughout the class.

The Design and Implementation of Patient Specific Ankle-Foot Orthotics

The team for this project was made up of five senior level Mechanical Engineers and a faculty advisor (Prof. Constantinos Mavroidis). Initially our team was given a challenge by Prof. Mavriodis to research the topic of Rapid Prototyping in Medicine and come up with a new novel way to use this technology.

The research was broken up into five major categories (Dentistry, Orthopedics, Surgery, Medical Modeling and Prosthetics) and carried out over the spring semester while we were on Coop. The sponsor for the project (Michael Lancia) provided us with 3D scanning tools that could be utilized during the project. The combination of RP technology and the 3D scanning utilities gave us a unique opportunity to integrate these two technologies. Several concepts were then created with help from expert interviews and the knowledge gained from the research.

Contrary to other projects in the class, our group was given the challenge of creating our own project. After the concepts were narrowed down and a concept selection process was completed we decided to design a Patient Specific Ankle-Foot Orthotic (AFO). The goal of the project was to reverse engineer an existing Ankle-Foot Orthotic and design our own that would match the functionality of the existing AFO while adding to patient comfort.

We went through several design iterations and created three separate prototypes. The final two prototypes were tested at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital against the existing AFO that was purchased. The prototypes had equal functionality to the existing and offered more support in certain areas. The concept has been patented and research is still ongoing.

For more information on the project please download the Executive Summary. If there is further interest in this project please contact me and I can provide more information as well as our full paper.


At the start of the project I became the group leader. We did not really discuss it as a team, but it just seemed to workout that way. As a team leader my most important responsibility was making sure that we turned in all of our work on time and that every assignment was complete. I also had numerous other responsibilities.

I was the main point of contact for the group to our advisor, sponsor and outside professional that we contacted. I organized and orchestrated the meetings and secured lab time within Northeastern University to facilitate many different testing activities. At the organizational level, I was in control of making sure all the group members were hitting deadlines as well as writing up weekly updates that were sent out to our faculty advisor, sponsor and Capstone Professor.

Other than the organizational side of the project, I was involved in a considerable amount of research. I was initially responsible for researching the topic of rapid prototyping in surgery. I also went on to do research in many other areas spanning from the current process of AFO production to how AFOs are modeled using finite element analysis.

On the engineering side of the project I was involved in the material analysis and testing done on the existing AFO. I was involved in the model creation using the RapidForm software, which was the most challenging part of the project. My other responsibilities covered everything from the process development of taking the actual ankle-foot data to helping with the link segment analysis of a human foot-ankle-knee system.

This project was the most challenging aspect of my entire academic career. It has also been the most rewarding thing I have ever done at Northeastern. Capstone has really helped build my engineering skills, but also teamwork, leadership, organization, presenting, communication, writing and many more.

:: contact: seth at sethsivak dot com ::