Mechanical Engineering

Jason Carey

University of Alberta Associate Professor Jason CareyMechanical Engineering Associate Professor Jason Carey’s career path was set in motion very early on, when as a small child he watched the robotic sci-fi show Astroboy. From that moment on, he dreamed of one day becoming a biomedical engineer who created futuristic robots like the ones on his favorite show.

As Carey grew up, his dream of becoming a biomedical engineer never wavered, although the details evolved a little. “After years of breaking various bones in my body while playing sports or from simply doing stupid things, tissue mechanics and clinical biomedical engineering became my passion,” says Carey.

Now Program Director for the Department of Mechanical Engineering’s Biomedical Option, Carey is truly living his dream career, not only through his innovative, cutting edge biomedical research, but as he shares his love and passion for biomedical engineering with his students.

“I teach because I love it. It’s fun and keeps me on my toes. I think my best work-related feeling is when my students accomplish something great. What motivates me is the fun I am having doing what I do,” says Carey, who was awarded the Mechanical Engineering Club’s 2007/2008Award For Excellence In Teaching.

Biomedical engineering is a specialized field that uses engineering techniques to solve medical problems. “I conduct fundamental and applied studies on composite materials and biological tissues to define and understand their mechanical and structural characteristics and their behaviour during different stimuli, while also understanding the fundamental physiological aspects of human tissues,” Carey explains. “The purpose of my work is to improve patient quality of life and to aid clinicians in their difficult task of helping their patients,” he says, adding much of his research efforts focus on developing new medical devices.

Carey’s biomedical research, done in conjunction with his colleagues, focuses on the following areas:

Braided composites

This research focuses on the production and characterization of the properties of open-mesh single overlap diamond braids for biomedical and structural purposes. Experimental work on braided composites and the development of experimental protocols for braided catheters have contributed to a better understanding of the basic manufacturing and material variables that affect tensile and torsional elastic behaviour of braided composites.

Orthodontic biomechanics

With a goal of improved diagnostics and treatment outcomes for dental patients, this research focuses on the use of archwire/bracket systems to improve malocclusions, and bone- and tooth-borne appliance-based maxillary expansion (ME) to correct maxillary transverse deficiency problems (narrow palate). Experimental and clinical equipment to further the understanding of orthodontic and ME treatment appliance mechanics and biomechanics is also under development.

Imaging in Orthodontics

Significant advances have been done in the use of imaging in orthodontics (Cone Beam CT or Cephs) to understand the effects of bone versus tooth anchored maxillary treatment. Additional work has been done on superimposition of images to determine true effects of treatment versus image distortion and bone growth.

Myoelectric Training Tool

Above-elbow myoelectric prostheses aim to restore the functionality of amputated limbs and improve the quality of life of amputee patients. In order to improve rehabilitation after targeted muscle reinnervation (TMR) surgery for amputees, an inexpensive myoelectric training tool (MTT) has been developed in collaboration with the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital that can be used by TMR patients for biofeedback applications. The MTT can also be used for training and evaluation of non-TMR amputee patients at the transhumeral or transradial level in order to determine their suitability to myoelectric technology. The MTT consists of a physical and simulated robotic arm, signal acquisition hardware, controller software, and a graphical user interface.


Through a multidisciplinary collaboration with the Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine and the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital, this research focuses on improved diagnostics of spinal trauma through health-monitoring methods. Other research focuses on the growth patterns of scoliotic spines, so as to better understand the causes and progression of idiopathic scoliosis, as well as on the development of artificial vertebral disks and models of the spinal response to vibration stimuli.

Emergency Needle Cricothyrotomy Device (ENCD)

Our research team has developed an innovative emergency needle cricothyrotomy device that has an accurate means of injecting low and high pressure air towards the lungs. The device is self anchoring at known insertion lengths, is capable of being used with current upper airway puncture needle systems, provides proper airflow, and is simple to insert and remove. Current research focuses on issues of fundamental and clinical interest, including the consequences of the ENCD puncture on human tissues, and the physics of airflow into the lungs both under low and high pressure conditions.

Knee replacement model

Our research team has developed a patient- specific knee replacement finite element model, and have designed the multi axis biomechanical testing apparatus (MABTA) to validate the model through its stages of development. The apparatus allows for positioning the bones of the knee joint in different gait (walking) positions, and applies axial and transverse loading, maximizing the realistic nature of the application.


This research aims to demonstrate that a simple model concept can explain the important biomechanics behind the golf swing, which is a surprisingly complex and difficult motion. Advances have been made in the use of braiding technology to improve golf shafts and use of instantaneous screw axis analysis for golf kinematics, and the design of a composite golf shaft is underway. Other research is focusing on the development of a biomechanics model and a teaching tool.