After an entire summer in Costa Rica, I have moved into another new place, Houston, Texas. I was surprised about the summer humidity and heat but was excited to explore a new city. Before starting classes, I had the chance to explore Houston. From the Museum District to Downtown, I took advantage of my Rice Student ID to visit the Fine Arts Museum of Houston and Contemporary Arts Museum and explored the Buffalo Bayou Park to see the sights. There are lots of places to discover and I looking to explore them as the year goes on.
Once classes began, I quickly figured out that walking in the Houston heat and humidity wasn’t the best way to get around. Everyone either has a car or bike to get around the Rice Campus and in Houston. I successfully got a bike to get to the BRC and escape the Houston heat as quickly as possible.
Classes have started in a flash and my projects have picked up the pace. From juggling two projects to selecting electives, the first month has flew by. For my global project, I am working with Ellie, Erik and Rocky on a laparoscopic training device based on my summer executive summary from Costa Rica. With the help of Rocky’s connections at the Baylor College of Medicine, we were able to meet with Dr. Nilson Salas, the Director of the Surgical Simulation Lab and move forward in collaboration on prototyping and user needs validation. Dr. Salas has provided great insight in the requirements of a laparoscopic training device, as he teaches all the residents at Baylor College of Medicine and has many years of experience proctoring the Fundamentals of Laparoscopic Surgery (FLS) exam.
For my local Houston project, my team is working on identifying needs during our clinical observations. I’m working with Genevieve, Secondra (BCM), Dan (Rice Business), and Georgia (Rice Business) to look for possible needs and project ideas. For clinical observations, I have had the opportunity to observe at MD Anderson Cancer Center, watching a couple robotic-assisted prostatectomy procedures with the DaVinci Robot. It is the first time I’ve ever seen the DaVinci Surgical Robot in person and was really cool watching in action at a well-renowned institution. I learned that urologists were one of the first to incorporate the use of robotic surgery for their procedures. In addition to MD Anderson, I have observed Georgia, a practicing general surgeon at BCM CHI St. Luke’s hospital, which is a huge boost for our team. It’s helpful to have a physician who can give their perspective about procedures and techniques used in the operation room.
Outside of classes, I got some experience with Houston sports. The Rice football team played the University of Texas at NRG Stadium, home of the Houston Texans. Despite the overwhelming domination of UT, the game was a fun experience to play at an NFL stadium.
I also went to my first Astros game this past weekend with Erik and Hannah. The Houston Duke Alumni hosted the event and I got a picture with the Astros World Series trophy from 2017, the first World Series trophy in team history. The Astros were playing the LA Angels and I got a free Carlos Correa bobble head. Unfortunately, the Astros did lose, but I got to meet some Duke Alumni and touch a part of Houston’s sports history.