One Semester Down!

The fall semester has come to an end! Last week consisted of a final problem set, a take-home exam, and two presentations, and I’m now finished with my first semester of graduate school. I’d like to give a quick overview of what has been accomplished this semester and what I’m looking forward to next semester.

I’m working on WombOx, a fetal pulse oximeter that began as a senior design project last year. I initially thought that there would be minimal change to the design, and that I would mostly be working with manufacturers to figure out how to produce the device. However, I quickly learned that there were some aspects of the design that needed to be improved and refined. After receiving guidance from several Rice professors, I ended up making a significant change and I am therefore still working on prototyping the device. By the end of next semester, it should be possible to work closely with a manufacturer to move the device forward.

The goal for our team project this semester was to find a need in the medical field that we can design a device to address. It’s important that we are all excited about the project we will spend next semester on and that it is reasonable for us to make significant progress in the few months we will have. After beginning the semester with over 300 needs, narrowing them down, and finding new ones, we have come to the final need that we will work to address next semester. We’ll be working with a hospital that we visited in Costa Rica to help improve access to dialysis for their patients. Chronic Kidney Disease affects a large amount of people in the Guanacaste region of Costa Rica, and our goal is to design a system that makes their treatment more accessible and convenient.

This semester has been full of new experiences and has certainly been challenging. It was unlike any semester of undergrad, as the GMI program is very unique. I learned about what it takes to manage a project and about working successfully with a team. I’ve needed to be very self-motivated to make progress and balance everything well.

Next semester, I’m looking forward to starting out strong with the things that I’ve learned from the fall. The spring will be more focused on making progress on our design project. We’ll be prototyping and testing our ideas, and will likely make a few trips back down to Costa Rica as well. I’m excited for the second (and last!) semester of grad school, but first I’ll be going home for a snowy holiday season in New York!

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