A Bittersweet Last Week…

This is really it! The last week of classes is officially here, and it’s time to start wrapping up the multiple projects I’m working on to have them ready to be handed off to next year’s GMI students. Just last week, Abby and I traveled down to Costa Rica and had the chance to work with Invenio to put together the proposed cuartito design we had developed this school year. Of course many changes were made over the course of the day and a half we spent building, but it was rewarding to finally see our design built and in-country.

Standing in our cuartito!

While we didn’t get a chance to test out the tarp, we did learn about various adhesives available in Costa Rica, and determined that the best method for constructing the tarp “sleeves” moving forward would be to sew them together. We also modified the sink design slightly to occupy less room. All of these changes will help next year’s team assemble the finished cuartito, and move towards our eventual goal of starting a clinical trial. Also while in Costa Rica we met with Dr. Estrada, who seemed very excited to work with us on the clinical trial, and gave us some ideas of parameters to consider for the longer 6-month study in patients’ homes. While it is a bit unfortunate that I will not be able to contribute to these future efforts, I have full faith in next year’s GMI students to continue the project and successfully start the trials!

Dirty hands, but full hearts.

Our design project has also approached a point where we can hand it off to next year’s students. Last week, Sanjana and I were able to meet with Dr. Razavi from Texas Heart Institute, who gave us some valuable ideas about innovative ways to direct blood flow to the brain when a patient suffers from cardiac arrest. One of our main goals for the semester for this project was to establish strong contacts and mentors who could guide not only our group but future groups as well, and Dr. Razavi is very excited for next year’s students to work on this project. He introduced us to another physician who specializes in heart failure and heart transplant patients, and he was also willing to serve as a second mentor! Even though we didn’t get as far as we had initially hoped on this project, with these connections, the next GMI students can easily make progress and continue the design process from where we left off.

Just yesterday my travels continued when Ryan and I had the chance to represent GMI on the annual bioengineering Bay Area trip. We presented four of the GMI projects (VR, Teledermatology, DialOasis, and Milky Waves) to Rice alumni living in the Bay Area. It was so interesting to see where alumni end up and learn about their (very impressive!) paths to where they are now. This event made me realize just how much the bioengineering department at Rice has changed over the years, and really appreciative for all of the resources we have available to us now. We also had the opportunity to visit the Becton Dickinson Biosciences office in San Jose and speak with various representatives there. I hadn’t realized just how wide of a range of products BD has to offer, and I really valued having the opportunity to speak with various members of industry.

Representing GMI well!

Finally, I’d just like to leave a small poem about my time in GMI:

Some projects may fail,

and oftentimes plans will change.

But just stay the course,

because you’ll learn much along the way.

In all seriousness, this year in GMI has shaped me not only as an engineer but also as a person. I could have never imagined that I would have gained so much knowledge in such different areas from the three projects I worked on over the year. I’ve been challenged to think critically and exercise my problem-solving skills on an international level. I had the chance to meet with so many different people- from nephrologists in Costa Rica to EMTs in Houston. In addition, I was lucky enough to work closely with a group of nine amazing people, and form tight friendships over the course of just eight months. I wouldn’t trade my time in GMI for anything, and I know that these skills I’ve gained will benefit me as I move forward with my career and join the Technical Development Program at Baxter. It’s sad to say goodbye, but I’m excited to see what comes next! Thank you so much to Dr. Richardson, Sheretta, and all of the GMI-ers- this really wouldn’t have been the same without you guys!

As one door closes, another opens.

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