What a Week!

Week one of ten in Costa Rica is over, but most of us would agree it’s felt more like weeks or months since we began. We are all looking forward to having a little break before continuing on with our activities here.

The program started with a day and a half of orientation at Rice University that was packed with leadership lectures from Dr. Van Kleeck and administrative information. Dr. Van Kleeck talked to us about what attributes make up a good leader, how to work as a team despite differences in working styles and personalities, and goal setting. After these lectures, I made a goal for the summer to develop a basic understanding of the working styles of the other members of the cohort, especially the three I will be working most closely with (Callie, Sanjana, and Josh). Additionally, I will continue to observe my own behavior to discern my relative strengths and weaknesses within the group. This information will be very helpful to obtain for our work here in Costa Rica, but even more so for when we are back in Houston.

After orientation, we flew here to Costa Rica and began a short course in needs finding. As a part of the course, we each went with some local bioengineering graduate students to separate hospitals to conduct some observations with the goal of determining some needs for future design challenges. Unfortunately, when we arrived at the hospital, they were not as ready for us as we had hoped. Our original contact was apparently unavailable, and we had to do some asking around and waiting before getting to talk to someone. We did get to talk with two individuals at the hospital eventually, a physician and an engineer, but were unable to conduct any observations or ask many questions about their problems. Therefore, we weren’t able to learn enough about any one of their problems to start a meaningful design process.

From this experience, I learned that making observations may not always be as efficient as I might hope, especially in smaller, more-chaotic hospitals like the one we visited. Expecting to make one visit to a hospital to see everything I want about a particular process may be unrealistic, and therefore I should take that into account for future planning. However, many of these issues may be able to be mitigated by more extensive communication with my hosts at the hospital.

All in all, I’m excited for this opportunity here in Costa Rica. With a background in mechanical engineering, I’m hoping to gain a sufficient understanding of the medtech industry, especially in an international context, to know where my strengths and interests might lend a good fit. Additionally, I hope to greatly improve my Spanish skills while here. I’d say I’ve made considerable progress on these goals considering the 3 days I’ve been here so far.

But now it’s time to kick back a bit and enjoy Costa Rica. Until next time…


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