Hola! I cannot believe that we’ve only been in Costa Rica for 10 days; it feels like months ago that we were sitting in Houston trying to prepare for what it would be like when we got here. This past week has been packed with so many adventures, from prototyping medical devices and doing IP research to playing in the ocean and wandering through the jungle during a torrential downpour.
On Monday, we started our short design course in San Jose. Dr. Richardson, Dr. Clifton, and Dr. Wettergreen taught us (and our Costa Rican classmates) everything we needed to know so that by the end of the week, we were presenting our devices to local MedTech professionals. My team worked to design a device to definitively diagnose pediatric asthma in a nonclinical setting. It is important to increase diagnosis rates so that children can receive treatment and be prepared in the event of an asthma attack. My team – Pedi-Asthma – consisted of Paula (my partner from Rice University), Debora, Marlon, and Christhian. We all came from different universities and academic backgrounds so it was awesome to see everyone’s strengths coming out at different times. The working language was English (which was good because my Spanish is less than ideal), but luckily Paula is an excellent Spanish speaker and could help bridge any communication gaps that came up.
All in a week’s time, we:
- Did background research on asthma
- Performed a market analysis
- Brainstormed solution ideas
- Struggled through screening/scoring matrices
- Prototyped potential devices
- Looked into IP constraints
- Learned about design for manufacture
- Perfected our final presentation
The days flew by as we worked to get ready for Friday’s presentation. I had so much fun collaborating with my team and seeing the growth in everyone’s teams as the week progressed. Each team was incredibly creative with their solutions and I can’t believe how much we accomplished so fast. Lunch was also a really unique experience because not only did we try new foods every day, but we got to talk and learn how similar/different our lives are from Costa Rican students. I even found a fellow Cleveland Cavs fan so we could revel in the disappoint that often comes with being a Cleveland fan together. The week ended on a great note as my team tied for the best design team!
After the hectic week of the short course and getting more settled in our apartments, we were able to have a lot of fun over the weekend. We explored San Jose (and witnessed the…intense? Chaotic? Crazy? …driving that people do in the city) on Friday evening. Bright and early on Saturday morning a group of us left for Manuel Antonio National Park! The park was a couple hours away; the time varies a lot due to the aforementioned Costa Rican driving. We laid on the beach and played in the ocean all afternoon, and everyone escaped without severe sunburn. On Sunday morning, we headed into the park during a torrential downpour. The rain let up a few times, but for the most part, everyone was just soaked to the bone. Despite the rain, we had a ton of fun in the beautiful rainforest and saw birds, monkeys, a sloth, and so much more.
Tomorrow, we start our internships! I am at Boston Scientific Heredia in the R&D division and am very excited to see what I will be doing all summer.