Exploring Costa Rica

This week was just as busy as the last, jam-packed with fun, new experiences. We got to participate in a short course on bioengineering design with Costa Rican students and work collaboratively to design a product based on the need we had chosen. My team, named VertiGOALIES, focused on finding a way to triage vertigo in the ER, accurately distinguishing high risk patients from low risk patients.

After researching the need, we brainstormed solutions and began creating low-fidelity prototypes, which was my favorite part of the course. We used materials such as popsicle sticks, pipe cleaners, tape, and styrofoam to turn our ideas into more concrete solutions. We performed several iterations, and eventually, I became the model for a life-size cardboard version of our device. Although I don’t think my modeling career will be taking off any time soon, we had so much fun working as a team to bring our idea to life. I learned a lot about the design process and was able to form friendships with local students in the process. I learned just as much from them as they learned from me throughout our week-long project.

At the end of the week, we gave a presentation on our project to a panel of industry professionals, our professors, and all of the other students in the class. Presentations in front of large groups have always made me anxious, but Dr. Richardson provided a great lecture on good presentation skills. My group practiced our presentation repeatedly and gave each other helpful hints on how we could do better. We delivered a great presentation and I am so grateful to have had this experience to learn more about myself and my team. See the picture below of Leonardo, David, me, Drew, and Edelman, holding our certificates of completion and reflecting happily on the week.

This weekend, some of the other students and I traveled to Manuel Antonio National Park. On Saturday, we spent the day at the beach relaxing in the Costa Rican sun. On Sunday, we went hiking in the park, in hopes we would see some wildlife. Although it was raining all day, we saw some monkeys, and in the spirit of Rice University, an owl perched in a tree along the trail. I love the outdoors and hope to have many more trips like this one during our time in Costa Rica.

We are all starting our internships this week, and I am very excited to meet my coworkers and find out more about what I will be working on this summer. Costa Rica is a beautiful country and I can’t wait to keep exploring it and experiencing its natural beauty and incredible biodiversity.

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