Week 6: Expectations and Inspirations

We are now more than half way through our Costa Rican experience and this past week was spent in an intensive, collaborative medical product design quick course. With twenty Costa Rican engineering students from a variety of majors, representing the major universities in the San Jose region, the course covered a high-level overview of everything from market analysis to idea generation, rapid-prototyping to manufacturing cost analysis, medical regulations to patient creation.

For the most part the information presented in this lecture was not necessarily new to me. While my degree in Mechanical Engineering did not cover many of the aspects specific to Biotechnology the overall process of product design was review. The part of the class that was the most interesting, and the most education, was the project-based component. The class was divided into subgroups, each given a specific need to design a product to. My team’s need revolved around my trip to Liberia and the growing number of dialysis patients in low income communities.

Throughout the week we worked to develop a design given the specific customer needs of the Liberia and Guanacaste communities. Five strangers, very different in their age, experience, background and technical knowledge came together to complete a demanding project. I could not be prouder of the team and people I was put with for this project. Their passion and exuberance, desire to learn even though a class in English was well beyond many comfort zones, and team attitude was inspiring to me.

I am not sure what I expected with the class. Coming from a large school it was not uncommon in my undergraduate to get students who were lackluster in both effort and attitude—preferring to skate by with low effort, mediocre performances. Those on my team showed no such demeanor, going above and beyond what was required by spending time outside of the class to do additional research, practice, and complete assignments.

I can only hope that I work with teams of similar individuals in actual jobs in my career.

Jeannette Nelson

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