In my brief glimpse of what a job in industry felt like, a recurring thought really put the upcoming semester into perspective. Although the responsibilities and great projects I worked on were fulfilling, I couldn’t help but miss the student life. Yes, even with the stresses of tests and projects (and lack of money), college was such a great microcosmic environment in which I could meet new people, learn about so many different things and really hone my career skills. With the emphasis that the GMI program puts on project-based learning, not only could I apply the skills I gained through my internship, but I can actually further develop those skills to ultimately prepare me for the real world (the second time around).
The Calm Before the Storm
I felt like I was getting settled in at Rice. I met some new people, learned the daily bus routes, and could walk around campus without having to constantly look at the map—and then Hurricane Harvey happened. Fortunately, I was able to drive back home to Dallas (as a precaution), but I had not anticipated the storm to be as bad as it was, and it seemed as many Houstonians felt the same way. Watching the selfless acts that people were doing in helping each other helped me recognize a couple things:
- “Plans don’t always work, but planning does” —Dr. Richardson
- We often overlook the lack of medical solutions in disaster-situations
The relief efforts that the city of Houston conducted was an amazing thing to witness (even some of the GMI students were able to help out). Although people had not planned on the storm being as severe as it was, there were decisive and coordinated efforts in mitigating a lot of the risks associated with the aftermath of the storm. Yes, the storm kind of made the semester a little bit more challenging and I may have to relearn where I am on campus, but the inspiration I gathered from the people of Houston has given me something that really can’t be learned.
To be successful with the coursework that the GMI students have, I realized that time management will be essential moving forward. Throughout my undergraduate studies, I was pretty good at making mental notes of when assignments were due, but graduate school is a whole other experience. This week, I found myself planning my entire schedule a month in advance. My younger-self would question my sanity, but as I learned from my internship experience, planning will help keep you productive and on top of tasks that are interdependent on each other. With working on a couple different projects (implementation and design) as well as balancing other class assignments, extensive planning is something that, I found for myself, is very necessary.
As I had previously mentioned in past blogs, my implementation project for the year is the Barretos Teledermatology project. With Anna working on the Redcap side of the project, my goal and focus revolves around the dermatoscope device and how to manufacture it in Barretos. Not only will this involve design for manufacturability improvements, this will require an effective business strategy in allowing this project to transition from Rice ownership to an actual distribution model in Brazil. A joint goal Anna and I are currently focused on is to conduct a clinical trial regarding the effectiveness of the RedCap App. Being that we are using RedCap both for our front-end and back-end, it is a crucial aspect of the project to ensure that the app is effective, intuitive and secure. With our projected trial to be conducted in mid-October, we have to make sure we can arrange all the logistics in Barretos to allow for a clinical trial to be executed.
In our Medical Device Design class, we were pitched various needs observed by cardiologists from St. Luke’s hospital. Among the very interesting projects that we were able to hear about, the one that I thought was peculiarly intriguing was an issue relating to drug-eluting stents (DES). Usually after a DES is implanted into a patient, doctors will prescribe dual antiplatelet therapy (DAPT). This is typically a mix of aspirin and Plavix, which the patient will take for at least a year. Prolonged used of blood thinners obviously has considerable health risks, and so finding a method in which that can be reduced would be beneficial to the patient. One of the reasons patients are required to take DAPT for so long is because the doctors will wait to ensure that the stent implanted is fully endothelialized. Full-endothelialization of a stent prevents adverse immune response to the foreign material in the body, and thus the rates for thrombosis or restenosis decrease significantly. For the upcoming semester, our team will focus on coming up with an innovative solution to this problem.