Springing into Sprints!

We’re halfway through the semester! The past month has kept me busy with implementation projects, sprints, design projects, and so much more.

The Sprint format for this semester has been really beneficial for my project, MilkyWaves. I’ve benefitted a lot from having Chandler and Karlee’s help during my Sprint weeks, and we’ve been able to make a lot of meaningful progress so far. I’ve run 2 sprints so far this semester, and both have been focused on building and improving my prototype while also getting clinical trial paperwork in order. So far, we have succeeded at getting the device to control the heating pad and display temperature data to the user. The next steps will be to fabricate a PCB and create housing to hold all of these structures. I hope to have this accomplished before our trip to Costa Rica in early April so that we can show our collaborators the device and get their feedback on it.

Our design team has run into some unexpected roadblocks this semester. Unfortunately, after some deeper research we found that a competitor has already created the device we envisioned for ROP. As a result, we’ve decided to pivot and search for a new need to focus on this semester. So far, we haven’t been able to find the perfect need to focus on, but we are optimistic that we will find the right one in the coming weeks! Though this process has been a little frustrating at times, it’s also been an opportunity to learn and adapt. Situations like this are really common in the medical device development, and it’s a part of the process that we must learn how to adjust to.

Overall, I’m excited about the progress we’ve made and I can’t wait to have some kind of finalized product for MilkyWaves in the coming weeks. It’s been really awesome to see things finally taking shape this semester, and I’ve been learning so much. I’m ready to keep going strong all the way through to the end of the semester!



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Time Flies When You Are Having Fun

Is it time for another blog post already? It seems like I just wrote one last week. I guess it’s because I’ve been pretty busy, but in a good way. Time flies when you are having fun. And we did some flying and had a lot of fun this past week on a networking trip in the Bay Area.

On Sunday night a group of seven GMI students, some undergrad bioengineers, and a few faculty members set off for California. We were only there until Tuesday afternoon, but we jam packed a bunch into two days and it ended up being an incredible trip. Monday morning started off with an amazing tour at Intuitive Surgical, the company that makes the da Vinci surgical robot. At Intuitive, we not only got to tour the assembly line, but test out the da Vinci ourselves! I had seen the da Vinci at work in an OR at Texas Children’s Hospital last semester while doing needs finding, but actually getting to practice on the robot was an experience. The movements were actually really “intuitive,” which may be why it’s called Intuitive Surgical. It was also eye-opening because we had just talked about surgical robots in our Medical Human Factors course. I just love it when everything comes together, when real life and learning mix!

After Intuitive we were off to GE where we met with a GMI alum who gave us a tour of the office, some amazing snacks (their kitchen and break areas were impressive), and a very insightful talk. She explained how she had grown while at GE and gave us numerous pieces of advice as we begin our careers. After GE we were off to our final tour of the day at IDEO, a design consulting firm in Palo Alto focused on human-centered design. They are responsible for helping design devices such as the Apple computer mouse and Willow, the first wearable breast pump. Here, again, learning and real life collided. IDEO uses many of the design processes and principles we have been learning this year, from ethnography and needs finding to rapid prototyping and testing. Monday was a long day, but it was certainly worth it.

Golden Gate

Tuesday began with a tour of Medtronic in Santa Rosa. We had the opportunity to tour the facility and hear one of their program directors speak about his work and how the Medtronic mission has impacted his own life which was really neat. We also saw demos of a few of the stents that Medtronic makes. The tiny coronary stents are the result of some pretty impressive engineering.

After our Medtronic tour, it was time to head back to the airport and make our way back to Houston. Little did we know, though, that our excitement for the day was not over yet. As Chandler, Josh, Karlee, and I were sitting down in the airport eating some lunch, I spotted a guy in some Olympic gear that looked oddly familiar. I recognized him. He was an Olympic bobsledder…. Wait! I looked it up on my phone. My suspicions were right. He was the Olympic bobsledder named Sam McGuffie that attended Rice University. Then, lo and behold as we were waiting at our gate, he walked up. He was on the same flight as us coming back from South Korea and recognized us as a group of Rice students. Once we arrived back in Houston, a bunch of news reporters and an entire welcoming committee were waiting for him. What a wild coincidence!

Testing out some VR before the animal study

In addition to the Bay Area trip, the other major occurrence this past month was Tasha’s animal study. While I have seen human surgeries in the OR and have also viewed procedures done on mice and a few rats, I have never before observed a porcine study. It was oddly like a human surgery as I only got to enter after the animal had been prepped and draped. It was interesting, however, to see the prototypes being tested, our hard work put on the line.


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Time Flies and May Approaches

March already? Where has the time gone? My time recently has largely been spent researching companies and careers, brainstorming for our allergy project, planning DialOasis’s clinical trial, broadening my medical knowledge, and squeezing in some fun on the side.

The biggest thing on my mind lately has been “What happens in May?” I’ll graduate in May, so I’ve been spending lots of my time researching job opportunities and networking. I hope to work in a worldwide company in R&D of medical devices. I’ve been pursuing all my connections and making new ones in unlikely places including the gym and my church. I also attended an awesome conference in Houston last weekend called Mobilizing Medical Missions (or M3 for short). During M3, I heard from a variety of speakers with experience in serving overseas in medical roles, from nurses to surgeons to disaster relief workers. I also attended some breakout sessions where I realized that for short-term mission trips to be sustainable, they should be focused on encouraging and supporting the resident workers. I was also able to make some connections that will help me find opportunities to serve the underserved with my engineering skills. That was by far my favorite part of the conference, realizing just how much of a need exists for biomedical engineering overseas. That was even better than touring a mobile hospital (assembly in 11 hours) that comes complete with a triage, ER, OR, ICU, and more. I’m excited to see where I’m working and serving in the future!

A mobile hospital for disaster relief and rapid humanitarian aid (operated by Samaritan’s Purse)

One of our four brainstorming sessions for our allergy project, a.k.a. post-it-storm

For our allergy project this month, we undertook a series of brainstorms to make sure we were thinking about all possible avenues to solve the need. As a reminder, our need statement is “a way to increase awareness of allergens for patients with peanut allergies in order to decrease adverse reactions.” So we divided our brainstorming into four separate sessions. The first centered on education; we generated ideas about how to improve the current education of patients as well as the general public. Our second session encompassed patient monitoring; our ideas in this realm proved to be either infeasible (an automatic, wearable epi pen injector) or already invented (a wearable vital sign monitor). Our third session centered on immunotherapy, the process of ingesting bits of the allergen to decrease allergic reactions to it over time. We have some promising ideas in this space that I’m not yet ready to share with you, but I look forward to the day I can. And our last session focused on how to detect the allergen in food. This is where we have been focusing most of our efforts thus far, so we also have several ideas with potential here. Our next steps will be to decide on our best solution and how to make it a reality.

On the implementation side, we have been conducting sprints on DialOasis recently. In addition to building a sink and then the CAD model of it (as described in my last blog), we began to design the clinical trial that will prove DialOasis is a safe option for peritoneal dialysis treatment. First, we brainstormed the parameters we will measure in the trial. Then, true to the sprint spirit, we divided and conquered. My task was to design a procedure to measure patients’ quality of life. After lots of research, I created a survey, to be administrated during hospital check-ups, for patients to rate their emotional, relational, and physical health. A family member will rate the patient on a similar survey as an additional data point. In developing the survey, I was careful to phrase the questions in a way to avoid bias and yet make it as easy as possible to complete the survey. While doing this, I was struck by the truly debilitating aspects of kidney failure; some patients lack the physical health to complete normal daily tasks such as bathing and dressing themselves. This refocused me on why we are working on DialOasis: to restore function to these people so that they may return to a semblance of a normal life.

We tested our urinary stent prototypes during an animal study for Tasha’s project

Of course, part of GMI is learning about medical procedures, bodily systems, and how they relate. One of the unique opportunities that recently helped me to better understand this was attending an animal study for Tasha’s project. I observed as two surgeons tested out our urinary stent prototypes on a live (sedated) pig. I learned a lot including the value of physician feedback in a hands-on setting, of testing every prototype (even if you think it will never work), and of bringing extras of everything. However, not all my time is spent just on projects, I have traditional classes too. In my physiology class, I have been learning about the neurological system and the cardiac system. I’m fascinated by the similarities between thermodynamic pumps that I studied in my undergrad and the human heart. Also, the same basic principles of fluid flow in pipes apply to blood flow through arteries. It’s really cool to see the connections. As another fun way to learn more about the human body, I went to the Houston Health Museum and got to hold a real human brain. Good thing I’m not a zombie or no one else would have gotten to hold it!

I want to eat your brains! (Only if I’m zombified by lack of sleep)

Stress testing and stress relieving with a GMI piñata










As always, there’s time for some hard-earned play during GMI to relieve stress, even if it is just during our lunch break when Dr. Richardson steps out. It had been a stressful and long week, so Thursday we set up a candy-filled piñata. We hung it on the DialOasis prototype, dubbed it a “structural stress test” and could be heard whacking and laughing all throughout the OEDK. It was a success both in terms of stress testing and stress relieving.

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Networking in the Bay

In the back of all our minds while working on projects and going to class, there is always this looming thing called employment. We do the obvious things like applying online on job postings, reaching out to people through LinkedIn and talking to recruiters, but it is always nice to physically go to companies and meet people face-to-face. Some of the GMIers were able to travel to California in the past week, a trip that included stops at Intuitive Surgical, IDEO, GE Health and Medtronic. I’ll provide a quick recap on what stood out to me from these companies!

Intuitive Surgical

One of the most futuristic technologies within healthcare has been the implementation of robots within the surgical suite. No, there aren’t completely autonomous robots that make a physician obsolete, but rather systems that help physicians in improving the clinical outcomes of minimally invasive surgeries. One device that allows physicians to do this is called the da Vinci system. This multi-armed robot can allow physicians to grab, retract, cut and cauterize on the millimeter scale (which is normally not possible with human dexterity).  The company that manufacturers these high-tech robots is Intuitive Surgical. They gave us a tour of the facility and talked to us about their products and career opportunities. We even got to play with the da Vinci system! The system was very intuitive to use (see what I did there?), and after playing with it for a few minutes, I felt comfortable using it. It was basically a $2 million-dollar version of those claw cranes that no one seems to win anything on.

The da Vinci system


One of the big facets of GMI is our focus on user-centered design. Here at Rice we attempt to do that, but after seeing the work being done at IDEO, you realize that there is so much more possibility with design than what we often constrain ourselves to. They are a design consultancy firm that does work with a variety of partners (Apple, Fender, Levi’s, HBO, eBay and even the U.S. Government). They have an open-space work space that is decorated with different projects they had worked on. It was reaffirming to see the great products that IDEO developed while instilling the human-centered design concept across their company. To see the intersection between great engineering work and great artistic ability was further confirmation in what I strive to be as an engineer.

Rice representing at IDEO

GE Digital Health

The next stop on our trip was to GE’s Digital Health Bay Area location. Hannelle Fares, a former GMI student, gave us a tour of the facility and also gave us her experience and journey to GE. If there was one point that Hannelle really wanted to hammer home, it would be to keep persisting. She was a part of the rotational program at GE in which she cycled through a new position every 6 months. Her first rotation was in a software-heavy position and one that she did not have the expertise in. This meant that she had to take initiative on her own learning and projects. This eventually led her to be in a position to become a manager in her department as there was a void with a previous manager leaving. She got this position by being persistent and confident in her abilities. As a student looking from the outside-in, I really appreciated her honest perspective and experiences. Having that drive and motivation in tandem with great networking can really make all the difference, and Hannelle is proof of that.


The last voyage in California was to Medtronic’s Santa Rosa location. As much as I am a Texan at heart, I have to give it to Northern California on the scenery and weather. There were even a few Californians who apologized profusely for the day it rained a little while were there. I guess the Houstonians are to blame for that. About an hour north of the golden gate bridge was Medtronic. Having the Boston Scientific experience in the Summer allowed me to have these comparative goggles on while touring Medtronic. Both are giants within MedTech and both make a huge impact. One thing that I really enjoyed hearing was the perspectives of R&D engineers from Medtronic. They seemed genuinely enthusiastic about their work (which is always a good sign). This was also a great networking opportunity for us Rice students and who knows, you may even see some familiar faces working there in a few months.

This sight never gets old, right?

Quite the Homecoming

Just as the trip seemed to be winding down, while we were waiting on our flight back to Houston, we happened to run into U.S. Olympian Bobsledder Sam McGuffie (who ironically is a Rice alum as well). Sam is actually the first Winter Olympian to hail from Rice and, needless to say, he got quite a warm reception upon our return to Houston. I mean, how much more can you really ask from a field trip, right?

Congrats Sam!

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Spring 2: Starting the Clinical Trial

The past few weeks have been filled with prototyping, traveling, and clinical trials!


Just this past week we finally started our clinical trial for PalliAssist! Just three days after gaining the final approval, I hopped on a plane and headed down to Barretos, Brazil to ensure the kickoff of our trial went as smoothly as possible. Just to keep me on my toes, we had a few unexpected hiccups occur, causing the app to not work properly when I arrived. Luckily, it only took a few hours to resolve these issues and we were up and running again, ready for patient use.

The clinical trial we are running involves two parts: a small usability study followed by a larger and longer trial, both of which testing the app with current patients of the palliative care facility there in Barretos. First, the usability study will be used to assess how easy patients find it to use the system. A given patient will be allowed to use the app while they are in the hospital, and will then be asked many questions about how easy it was to do each task. In the larger study, patients will actually take the app home with them and use it to communicate with their doctors. After about a month of using PalliAssist, the overall performance of the system will be assessed by the doctors and patients. From both these studies, we hope to prove that PalliAssist is effective and gain information that will help us to further improve it.

Once again, our friends at Barretos were incredibly hospitable, making the long and short trip much more enjoyable!

More Sprints

Second round of prototyping

At the beginning of the fall, I decided I wanted to use my projects to broaden my skill set rather than deepen it. Hence, I decided to take on PalliAssist to develop some computer science skills rather than a more mechanical project. Looking back, I’m glad I made that decision because of how much I have learned, but I often miss getting to work on those mechanical problems. This semester, though, I’ve had more opportunities to contribute to Josh’s and Karlee’s implementation projects with my experience in SolidWorks and mechanical design, which has been a blast! Most of my work has been with Josh generating new prototypes for a way to attach our device to the nurse’s phone. It’s been really good to work out those old muscles again.

Tissue Mechanics

One elective that I’m taking this semester is about characterizing the mechanics of the diaphragm. This class has been great to put into practice what I’m learning in my physiology class, and get a little more depth into my mechanics. The main grade in the class will be the analysis of some data already collected by our professor, with which we may even be able to publish. Even though I chose not to pursue a thesis-based graduate degree, I think it will be really beneficial to wet my feet in research with this small project.


Some exiting news outside GMI is that I’m starting to get job interviews! I’m in an exciting and uncertain time of having no idea where life will take me in four months. Hopefully I’ll be able to share even better news next month about accepting an offer for employment!

Other big news is that the Rice Club Tennis Team QUALIFIED FOR NATIONALS! We were the third best school at the state tournament, only losing out to the big state schools Texas A&M and University of Texas, and earned a spot to play in Florida in April. I’m super proud of my team and had a blast playing with them!

Rice Club Tennis takes third place at the state tournament!

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Spring 1: Welcome Back

And we’re back! After a relaxing Christmas break (and probably my last), we’ve kicked it back off in GMI. This year, my break was especially slow, so by the end of it, I was eager to get back.

One of our first items of business upon getting back was to receive our design project assignments. If you recall, all the GMI students found 100 unmet needs in healthcare settings last semester, and filtered the list down to their favorite 3. After each of us presented our favorite three, and from those we ranked which ones we would want to work on in the Spring for our design project. Coming back from the break, after Dr. Richardson had some time to think about the best way to resolve all of our preferences, we were assigned our team!

I was placed on a team with Sanjana, Siri, and Anna, and the need we are addressing is a way to diagnose and monitor retinopathy of prematurity (ROP), a disease that can cause blindness in infants born prematurely. ROP is generally easy to treat, but requires consistent supervision by a trained healthcare professional (typicaly an ophthalmologist) to identify the appropriate time for treatment. In low- and middle-income countries, there is not usually enough ophthalmologists available to screen all babies at risk, leading many who develop ROP to go blind due to lack of treatment. Moreover, as more and more babies are surviving birth due to advances being made in global health, this disease will affect a greater number of people.

Over the first 6-7 weeks of the semester, we will be doing research to validate this need, making sure that this is, in fact, a real problem and learning more about the disease itself. Assuming we do validate it, we will then move on to generating and testing solutions.

I’m excited to be on this project! As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I really value getting to contribute to global health, and this will be a great way to do that.

One of the ideas generated and designed this week: The Clip

This past week, we started into our “sprint” format of working on implementation projects, where one team focuses on one or two problems in one project for a whole week. The goal is to set pretty quick deadlines so that we don’t waste too much time worrying about too many details, and therefore get a lot done in a little amount of time. For the Brazil team, Josh was first to lead a sprint. We focused on generating new prototypes for his dermatoscope attachment and testing them. Because I had the most experience with Solidworks and building things, I was given the task of designing and building the concepts the team generated. Unfortunately, this task proved to be too much to handle in a week.

We successfully generated 2-3 new concepts as a team to prototype, and I got to work designing them. However, after spending most of my time that week designing these parts and it came time to print them, we found that something wasn’t working. After three attempts to print these designs, all failed due to filament tangling or bowing of the part away from the bottom surface. After the third printing, it was too late to try something else, so we diverted to damage control for our report out on Monday.  I’d only had limited experience with 3D printers before this week, and after speaking with the lab techs, I did not think these designs would pose any problems. As of my writing this, I only have theories as to why it didn’t work, which will have to be tested in the upcoming weeks.

Failed attempts to fabricate prototypes

One thing I have taken away from this experience, though, was the value of playing with your parts. On two occasions this week, parts that we had planned on using did not behave as expected, causing time-costly pivots. These pivots could have been avoided if, when the parts arrived, they would have been tinkered with to see how they would be used. Instead, we assumed they would work like we expected and didn’t touch them until we needed them. Stated another way, don’t expect things to go according to plan. Nevertheless, one of the purposes of prototyping is to uncover these issues, so the week was still productive in that sense.

“Everyone grab your favorite tool for the picture!” Bridges International serving the community

Lastly, another enjoyable aspect of my time spent at Rice thus far has been volunteering with Bridges International, an organization that welcomes international students to the U.S. through various mechanisms. One of the things I love about this organization is that it not only seeks to serve international students, but gives them the opportunity to serve the community. Just yesterday, a group of students with Bridges helped with some Hurricane Harvey recovery efforts still going on in a Cambodian community in Houston. We got to meet two families still deeply affected by the hurricane and do what we could to help them. Luckily, this involved swinging sledgehammers around for a few hours.

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Prototyping, Problem Solving, and Virtual Reality

With spring break just two weeks away, it is really starting to sink in that our time here at Rice is coming to an end. I have mixed feelings about this program coming to an end. On one hand, it is exciting that we will be starting a new chapter in our lives in just a few short months, but on the other hand, it’s sad to think that we only have a short amount of time left together as part of the GMI program.

This experience has taught me so many things and has helped me grow into a better person, both personally and professionally. Probably the most important of those has been learning to be more flexible and willing to stop and take a step back when necessary. Working on my implementation project, Truvent, hasn’t been a walk in the park. This project was handed down to us from a previous design team, so we’ve been trying to use their work and improve it. Unfortunately, the approach we’ve been using and spending a lot of time on just isn’t working out. We’ve been really focused on trying to measure the force that a person would place on the top of the BVM to understand whether or not there are any leaks in the seal between the cushion and the patient’s face. While this seems like a really great approach, it is difficult to get accurate results with these types of force sensors. And so here we are, halfway through the semester, and we’re taking yet another pivot. Chandler and I decided that we needed to take a step back and think of other ways that we could determine whether or not there is a good seal. We did several brainstorming sessions with Dr. Richardson and the GMI team, and we have some really great ideas to prototype and test moving forward. It definitely helps to have new people incorporated into the ideation phase, because they tend to bring in new ideas that you may not have thought of previously, especially when you’ve been working on the project for a long period of time. Now that we’ve started to look into some other ideas, I’m feeling much better about the direction of the project, and I’m excited to see where it takes us.














My other big project, developing a virtual reality (VR) system for GMI, with Tasha and Chandler is finally making some strides. We’ve begun a collaboration with the Baylor College of Medicine, and we have some really great people to work with. One of the big perks of the GMI program is the fact that TMC is literally right across the street. This helps to open new doors and has proved to be hugely beneficial for this project. By partnering with Baylor, it helps us get access to operating rooms so that we can begin recording procedures for virtual ethnography in VR. This is also beneficial for them, because their medical students can use this for learning purposes. This past week, we finally got the 360-degree camera and started working with it to learn how it functions. We were able to both record and live stream practice videos and watch them in VR viewers. Our next steps will be to use the simulation center over at Baylor to test different camera placements to determine the best location for the camera in an actual operating room. This project is getting more and more exciting as we go, and I’m really looking forward to continuing to work on it and seeing where we can take it.

For my professional development elective, Strategic Thinking, I’m still working on the project for my internship, to develop a manufacturing and distribution strategy for Multisensor Diagnostics. This class has proven to be more challenging and frustrating (in a good way) than I had anticipated. The professor really challenges us to thinking deeply into the problem to make sure that we understand what the problem actually is and why it is a problem. This can be really frustrating, because it is not all that straightforward. It takes a lot more effort than it may seem. However, by pushing us to go beyond our comfort zone, we are actually learning a lot about thinking critically and being better problem solvers.

The job hunt continues to challenge me and is becoming more and more urgent as the time to graduation gets shorter and shorter. Although it is difficult and frustrating at times, I continue to remind myself to be persistent and patient. We’re flying out to the Bay Area for the next few days for a networking trip, so that should be a lot of fun and helpful in making new connections.

Spring break is just two weeks away. I’m not sure how it got here so quickly, but it’ll be nice to visit with family and friends for a few days back home. Until then, I’ll be spending all of my time between the OEDK prototyping and Baylor in the VR world. Pretty great way to spend your time, if I do say so myself!









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It’s a sprint, but it’s also a marathon

We’ve been sprinting, but it’s been more of a longer distance sprint. The end is in sight, yet still far away! For the past two weeks our sprints have been focused on DialOasis, which has been immensely helpful with helping Abby and me get closer to our goal of starting clinical trials in May. At the same time, our team has spent a considerable amount of time on the project, from refining SolidWorks models last week to developing parameters for our clinical trial this week. Now that we’ve solidified our design, this leaves us with time to make progress on starting the paperwork required for the clinical trial we aim to start. I am leading the sprint for last week and the following week, which gives us plenty of time to explore multiple directions for the clinical trial.

Results of the sprint kickoff. So many areas to focus on!

The sprint format has given us the opportunity to practice a wide range of team-project-focused techniques to implement into our “huddle” sessions. It’s also emphasized how important planning is to keeping a team productive. For most of the sprints we’ve done so far, we’ve held brainstorming sessions, which really helps us come up with new ideas and move our projects along. With DialOasis, it’s been helpful to have Tasha and Callie’s new opinions, since they are newer to the project. Additionally, it’s been interesting to gain new perspectives while working on Tasha and Callie’s projects as well, since they are so different from DialOasis in both topic area and project design. Through these sprints I feel that I am able to get a significant amount of work done on my project, while also having the opportunity to learn about my teammates’ projects. So while these sprints have been feeling more like marathons lately, it’s all about the journey!

Team Tik-TACS at the Stent-X animal study! Will transition to working on Stent-X once my sprint is over.

For my design project, things have taken an interesting turn. One essential part of the design process is investigating past solutions, and in doing so we found a couple devices in development to effectively treat retinopathy of prematurity in the same way that we had wanted to. This didn’t leave us with much space to develop a different device, so we are currently investigating other potential project ideas. While this was a bit disappointing initially, this is just a part of the design process that happens sometimes! Our whole team has definitely learned from this experience, and are looking into other exciting project ideas.

It’s always important to see the fun in projects! I’m glad the VR team has been so willing to let the rest of us try out their equipment. While I’ve used Google Cardboard once or twice, it was fun to get to use it again! I had also never played a VR video game before, so that was a fun experience as well. I can’t believe that there are only two months left in the program, and a week of that includes spring break! Time is really flying by, but I’ve definitely been having fun.

Trying out a VR headset at Baylor before the animal study. So cool!

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Shifting Gears

Clutch in, shift to gear 1. Gas. Clutch in, shift to gear 2. Gas. Clutch in, shift to gear 3. Break. Clutch in, shift back to gear 2.

Similar to driving a manual car, shifting through the various gears – whether it’s our own implementation projects, our teammates’ projects, or our design projects – this semester has taught me to be in sync with the surrounding conditions of each project. Conditions that influence which project (or gear) I need to be in are very much so dependent on outside factors such as upcoming animal studies, the Sprint that week, or impromptu collaborations.

This month, I finally had the chance to work on my implementation teammates’ (Abby, Siri, and Callie’s) projects through the Sprints they led! I always enjoy being involved on the projects rooted in Costa Rica (or Brazil!) because it gives me a perspective on the different processes and steps you have to take in making sure your project is successful in another country. Currently the developments that DialOasis and Consultika are encountering deal with manufacturing, clinical trials, and physician trainings.

In the first sprint we ran for DialOasis, I was responsible for aiding in the design changes for the walls of the dialysis unit as well as compiling a final materials list based on vendors in Costa Rica. With a completed design, the next Sprint for DialOasis dealt with adjusting the CAD files and I was responsible for developing the build plans based on the design changes we made and CAD drawings. I also established a mini-guide on communicating and working with stakeholders internationally. At this point, we are now preparing for clinical trials and what parameters we hope to test after constructing the first four functional prototypes to be placed in patient homes.

Design for Manufacturing- DialOasis

When it came time to focus on Consultika, Callie led the team on developing different training techniques for the physicians when learning to use the application. With Consultika, it makes it easier to apply classic sprint methodologies in terms of creating a façade that would mimic a software. Therefore, each of the training techniques we created were storyboards made on PowerPoint. The training technique I covered was an in-app onboarding process. Much like some current applications, the user is provided with focused tips as they follow through completing a task in the app. This avoids the inevitable short-term memory loss we all suffer after flipping through the introduction slides the first time an app loads.

Onboarding Consultika app users


Although I did not run a Sprint on my project these past 4 weeks, I have been working constantly on creating prototypes to be tested for the animal study held at the end of the month. Going based off the low-fidelity prototypes and test protocols that my teammates designed, the challenge was implementing these great ideas into a scalable model. Some obstacles I ran into included finding the right material to emulate the intended function of the device or even working with metals I was not used to. In the end, I produced two intraurethral facets and one catheter-based approach. Testing these prototypes in the animal study highlighted that my prototypes were still too large and that more iterations needed to be done! But I was able to get the perspective from the physicians on the function of the prototypes.

Prototyping Stent-X

One of the prototypes for the animal study

My implementation team and me on the animal surgery day!

Switching gears to my design project, where my team and I are working on bringing a virtual reality capability to GMI and Rice. Earlier this month, we focused a lot of effort on assembling a system proposal that outlined the 360 camera, PC computer, and VR system of choice based on large amounts of research. Shortly after, we experienced a long hiatus as we had promising collaborations in the works. We were in the midst of arranging several meetings with individuals that could offer us VR knowledge and overall accessibility. After our meetings played out, we felt comfortable to purchase the 360 camera and test it out at Baylor College of Medicine Simulation Center! Through this test run, we learned an insane amount about the camera- such as basic functions and how to live stream. We also made contacts with others at Baylor who could help guide us through the IRB approval process so we could eventually have the camera in an OR for clinical needs finding opportunities. Can I hear a VRoom VRoom?!

My design team testing out our new 360-degree camera!

Besides all the excitement in the projects I am working on, I had the chance to make a trip out to New Orleans during Midterm Recess. Although Houston is pretty close to the South, I had never actually visited a state as southern as Louisiana. New Orleans especially had so much culture, character, and delicious food. And it was only a 6-hour drive away. It was nice to take a break from school and explore another city!

New Orleans for Mardi Gras

Until next time!

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Sprinting, Pivoting, and Birthday Wishing

February has been full of sprints, design projects, keeping up with 2 course electives (Medical Human Factors, Strategic Problem Solving), and job interviewing.

Sprints are great- you get to help other people work on their projects when your personal project is held up by snags. For example, one week I had to wait on a REDCap problem to be solved by the Barretos Cancer Hospital IT department. This was going to take some time, so I shelved my project for a week and helped Josh with his implementation project (designing a phone lens attachment to produce higher quality photos of skin lesions). This helps Josh get more done, and I’m still being a productive member of GMI. When it’s my turn to run the sprint that week, I can count on other people to help me get even more things done than if I were on my own. Running sprints also gives you a chance to embrace a managerial role and delegate tasks (something easier said than done!).

My design team had to pivot our project this month. Thankfully we didn’t exhaust too many resources, time, and emotion before we realized multiple competitive solutions existed on the market. It turns out several companies have pounced on the opportunity to effectively screen for premature retinopathy. After devoting about 5 minutes of mourning to our lost efforts, we quickly refocused our attention on finding a new problem. Luckily, last semester’s Needs Finding gave us about 30 viable filtered needs to potentially pursue. Our team quickly focused our attention on 4 of these problems, and began to blitz. Blitzing is when you do a background search, scope the problem, find key stakeholders and connections, map out the market size, and define the patent and competitor landscape in a span of 3 days. The end result is a clear(er) view of which problem we should pursue. The rest of the semester will be spent validating our new problem and brainstorming solutions, once we meet with Dr. Richardson tomorrow and decide which problem to pick!

It was my 23rd birthday on Valentine’s Day last week, and as I blew out the two candles on my birthday cupcake surrounded by dear friends I wished for one thing… employment. AND IT CAME TRUE! I certainly wouldn’t have made it through the application process if it weren’t for the GMI program and the international industry/clinical experience it gave me. Cheers to one big box checked off on my list!

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