Short Course v2.0

This week we took part in the second edition of the Medical Innovation Short Course right here in Costa Rica. In my case, this is where I found out about the GMI program last year so it was a slightly different experience for me in terms of my expectations.

Compared to last year’s course, we only had one week instead of two and it was all taught at the UCR main campus – except for the final presentation at CINDE. Also, I took the course as an undergraduate student last year and it seems somewhat unbelievable that so much as changed, considering I have gathered so much experience in my family’s company, in the course I teach and also in the past few weeks with the GMI program and the internship. I definitely felt my role changed within the group I had to work with since I could contribute more from personal experience and as a medtech engineer.

Overall, the topics given to us did not change too much; in my opinion, only the timeframe changed which made it pretty fast paced. It was a welcome refreshment course for me and I did enjoy working with a new team of Costa Rican college students. Last year I initially struggled with team interaction but this time I believe the few months of teaching experience I have acquired helped me guide my own team without assuming an instructor role – it was more of subtle suggestions whenever the team seemed to get stuck with a single idea. I do not mean to say that I had all the correct answers, but I did feel comfortable enough with the topics being discussed to give a solid opinion in most of our group discussions.

Of all the activities we did, the prototyping workshop was, by far, everyone’s favorite. I got to do almost every activity but I especially enjoyed sculpting parts and creatures as concept generation through sculpting. My octopus king had heavy competition from Dr. Richardson’s blue pig. It was also nice to refresh my knowledge on decision matrices. I try to implement a very basic overview of the design process in the course I teach, but I am no match for Dr. Wettergreen’s lectures – he’s at another level. I can only hope to teach at a similar level someday; it’s a real pity that he does not teach any master’s course at Rice at the moment.


Low fidelity prototype for our hybrid medical incinerator. -By Team MedChem


Concept sculpting – Octopus King (Own Work)


Heavy competition from Dr. Richardson.

I must should also comment on Dr. Richardson’s lectures: he always mentions that the regulatory process is not something a lot of people are too fond of but I hope he soon realizes how much interest I have in it. I enjoyed that part of the course quite a lot and I am very much looking forward to discuss that topic in our GMI curriculum. One of the things I am more curious about is how harmonized different regulatory bodies could become since medtech development is shifting towards countries other than the US.

Regarding the specific project I worked on at the course with my team (which we named MedChem), the problem assigned to us had to do with the Pathology Lab at the Liberia Hospital, the same one we visited on our Week 1 Needsfinding tour in Guanacaste. I found our idea to be somewhat challenging as it is not as well set into a clinical setting more than an auxiliary part of the clinical workflow. This did not stop us from coming up with a great idea through the design process. We focused on reducing the environmental impact of medical incinerators for in-situ treatment of generated pathological waste. We named our solution “Flare”, a hybrid medical incinerator which takes advantage of solar energy to reduce fuel consumption. Everyone got to play a key role in mounting a brilliant presentation. Other than only focusing on the many design engineering skills we have been taught throughout both courses, I also tried to deliver a visually stunning presentation since I have worked in my graphic design skills in the past few months. I was very satisfied with my work and the team’s work. I really loved working with my team: Alejandro, Alexis, Cassandra and Glenda. I hope I run into them in the future just to catch up on what they are up to.

Now that we are over halfway done with the CR experience, I am starting to feel some excitement (and inevitably a little anxiety) over what is to come in fall. These remaining four weeks will go by even quicker than the first part of the internship. I hope we are assigned more tasks and learning experiences at BSC this coming week just to keep on taking in as much as we can from the industry.

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