Projects and Progress!

This semester is off to a great start! We’re completing our third Sprint (See Jeannette and Michael’s most recent posts for an explanation!) and have accomplished a lot with each one so far. First we worked on TruVent, the bag valve mask ventilation project that will assist in training doctors to successfully deliver breathing assistance to patients. We split up into teams of two to tackle different parts of the prototype that we felt needed significant improvement, and then put it all together. We made good progress on the prototype and are clear on the next steps that are needed to get it completely ready for a clinical trial in the near future.

We then worked on our team design project, which involves improving dialysis treatment in Costa Rica. We’ll be designing a system that makes it possible for more peritoneal dialysis patients in the Guanacaste region to have their dialysis treatments at home with a low risk of infection, freeing up space in the hospital and allowing them to be with their families. This Sprint was focused on putting ourselves in the best position to make progress on this project during the semester. We did additional research to ensure we completely understand the physiology of dialysis and complications that can arise, as well as the current products on the market. We also got in contact with some local dialysis experts and clinics in order to get their perspective. Michael and Luis will be traveling to Costa Rica next week, where they can get clarification on some of the questions that came up during the Sprint and speak with more people there about their specific needs.

We are now working on VisRefr, the app-based project that is being led by Luis. Though many of us have no experience in app design, we’ve all been able to contribute many ideas about how the app will look and function.

The Sprint structure of this semester has been a positive change in my opinion. It allows us to focus on just one project at a time, where we can put all of our time and effort. This results in a huge amount of progress being made on a project in just one week. All of our projects are very different, so it has been exciting to use very different skillsets each week. We learned early on that a very focused approach is best. Having the entire team work specifically on a part of the project that we consider vital to the design and/or something the project leader has been struggling with yields the best results. It has been great to all work together as a team and bring each of our expertise and experiences to each individual project.

To get some more information and practice with the Sprint methodology, we recently participated in a two day “Agile Scrum Immersion” workshop, which is a similar ideology to what we read about in the “Sprint” book. We learned about the origins of this method, its important attributes, and how to implement it successfully. The method began with use in software development, but has since expanded to be used in many types of engineering projects, including medical device design. We did fun activities as a team in very limited amounts of time, such as making a brochure for a vacation destination we designed, which emphasized important aspects of a Sprint. We took away many lessons to integrate into our Sprints to make them the most productive weeks possible.

I’m looking forward to continuing the Sprints this semester and seeing how much we can accomplish as a team!

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