Spring Break Status Update!

Being the last blog post before the GMI closure post, I wanted to make this one’s format in clearly outlined sections that describe the status of each one of the projects I have worked on, both individually and as a Team. Also, I am including the final projects I am working on in my electives to give a broader idea what the entire BIOE experience in GMI is, not just the core courses.

VisRefr – BIOE629 Implementation Project (Individual)

I’ll start with VisRefr since it is the one individual project I’ve mentioned most in my previous blog posts. Being my implementation project and having worked on it early in the semester, I feel it is only fair to include one update at this time in the semester. The sprint methodology makes it somewhat hard to work considerably on projects outside of each week’s scope; however we do have to work on our implementation project a few hours a week to make sure it is still running. I have made sure to redesign the app using Microsoft PowerApps, keeping all the feedback I got in my February trip to Costa Rica in mind. In the last month of class I hope to connect the current app to the mock database and have a fully functional app by the end of the semester. Ideally we would have had this earlier for testing by our partners down in Costa Rica, but the amount of redesign work that had to be done resulted in less implementation than originally intended. Still, the platform being used has made it so that deployment is relatively easy, making it even more implementable for anyone that takes over.

DialOasis – BIOE630 Design Project (Team)

The DialOasis project is turning out to be more challenging than we foresaw, but this has proven a very valuable learning experience for all of us. We have thoroughly assessed the problem from various perspectives, including insights from other disciplines such as architecture, human factors and business in order to have a better understanding of aspects beyond our expertise. I have personally enjoyed the amount of interaction with professionals outside the clinical/engineering scope we usually deal with, it makes it even more collaborative and brings us closer to what a real world problem is like. I have served as main liaison to our Costa Rican partners (Dr. Avellan and Dr. Espinoza) – I have come to admire their valuable work down in Guanacaste beyond the DialOasis project; their work is exemplary and diverges from what many physicians’ take on the current state of healthcare is in Costa Rica. I hope I can continue to collaborate with them somehow in my professional experience, even if it’s not as significantly impactful as GMI, perhaps through volunteer work.

During Spring Break, since I was going down to Costa Rica to spend time with my family, I took the opportunity to check in with the clinicians and gather more insights from patients. I spent an entire morning and early afternoon in the Liberia Hospital, discussing our current form factor ideas with the clinicians and nurses. I had the opportunity to chat with two patients and to my surprise I was invited to go down to one of their homes in the outskirts of Liberia. I am not as familiar with the town of Liberia itself as the only visits prior to GMI had been passing through on vacation on our way to the beach. A 10 minute ride on an official CCSS van took us through a surprisingly rough road a mile or two away from the Hospital – this was enough for the urban landscape to morph into a rural low -resource setting. The one house we visited (pictured) proved so valuable in understanding our target population’s setting! We are very grateful to the dialysis unit for all their help and support in taking this project forward.

BIOE 592 Sensory Neuroengineering (BioE Elective)

I am currently taking Sensory Neuroengineering as one of my elective requirements; it has certainly been an interesting course taught by Dr. Robert Raphael. So far we have been very thoroughly lectured on cochlear implants, Dr. Raphael’s expertise (and made more obvious by the fact that he is a user of such implant!) I have been exposed to deep knowledge in the matter I had not previously experienced in my more electronics-focused undergraduate track. I am looking forward on preparing the final project that relates global advancements in neuroengineering with the course; Dr. Raphael was kind enough to suggest that I stick to my “GMI tendencies” and explore a broader scope in the subject.

STAT 605 R for Data Science (STAT Elective)

This is by far the most surprising course I’m taking – I mean, since I had very clear expectations for the GMI courses. To be honest, I was not too excited to look for a MATH/CAAM/STAT elective to meet the degree requirements. Fortunately, this programming-statistics hybrid course is being offered. Our lecturer, Roberto Bertolusso, has a very open and particular way of teaching that is very reminiscent of the programming courses I first took in my undergrad degree. I am very confortable learning a new programming language and I have already been lucky enough to find many uses for this skill! My final project due in a few weeks will be a data analysis exercise using data that is very familiar to me and certainly useful to my career prospects. Out of caution, I won’t say too much about the nature of the dataset I’m using but it will surely come in handy once I am back in Costa Rica!

After much thought and involvement in so many projects, I am now convinced I must return back to Costa Rica and apply my newly acquired skills and knowledge to the country’s benefit. I feel I can make a difference back home, and I hope to do so through my involvement in both industry and academia. I will make sure to talk about this in more detail in my next and final blog post!

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