July 17, 2014
CLEMSON — A team of Clemson University students is traveling around the world to reach people in desperate need of medical equipment on the eastern coast of Africa. The group will spend two weeks in Tanzania as part of Clemson’s unique Creative Inquiry (CI) program-interdisciplinary undergraduate research combined with engaged learning.
The Designing Medical Devices for Developing Countries CI team is led by Clemson engineering professors Delphine Dean and John DesJardins. The team will research needs for new medical devices plus repair broken equipment in Tanzania hospitals and clinics.
The team is crafting a number of medical products, ranging from a neonatal heating device for hospitals to an affordable glucose monitor for poor villages.
Jacqueline Veliz, a junior communication studies major, is among five students taking the trip with professor Dean.
“Our CI works to construct medical devices like grass woven neck braces, neonatal monitoring devices and glucometers for low resource areas,” Veliz said. “Our research involves talking to patients to assess needs and government leaders to develop strategies for marketing our devices and obtaining FDA approval in Tanzania.”
Tanzania’s lack of resources is one of the challenges the Clemson team will take head on.
“These trips are very instrumental to providing motivation for students. Once you see the environment you are trying to change firsthand, it makes it more personal and helps push you to work through the design,” said Kayla Gainey, co-mentor for the Designing Medical Devices for Developing Countries Creative Inquiry.
In addition to conducting research, Veliz will file news reports from the field.
“I’m in the University Professional Internship/Co-op Program (UPIC),” Veliz said. “I work as a student multimedia journalist for Clemson’s media relations department and this trip gives me the opportunity to deliver an international report and show some of the work Clemson students do around the world.”
Healthcare is a critical issue in many developing countries. The Designing Medical Devices for Developing Countries CI aims to create inexpensive, easy-to-use medical technology to help people who need it the most.