GMI Student Perspectives | Eddie Yao: Exploration – At Home And Afar

Reflections from Global Medical Innovation MBE students.

A whiteboard in the Liu Idea Lab for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

The end of the semester is fast approaching and the past three 3 months at Rice have flew by. I’ve finally settled into my new home and made significant progress with my global project and my new local project.

For my global project, we are making great progress in our laparoscopic training device. Erik, Ellie, Rocky and I have contacted new stakeholders for our device. Dr. Maria Calvo from ICMED in Costa Rica and Dr. Luis Romagnolo from Brazil have been helpful in understand our user needs. We have started phase three, the prototyping stage for our device and our goal is to help students gain basic dexterity and familiarity with laparoscopic surgical tools, something that is actually very difficult based on my own experience. Through our team concept generation and process mapping sessions, we have brainstormed different methods to address our user needs. It has been great working with our international stakeholders and understanding the different circumstances that medical students and hospitals face in a global context.

For my local Houston project, the teams got reshuffled. After presenting our initial top three needs from each team, needs are down selected and new teams were formed to best fit each need. Now, I’m working with Aedan, Mary, and Jon on anastomotic leaks with J&J Center of Device Innovation. With the quick turnaround, I got caught up with the identified need, completed background research on colorectal procedures and investigated post-operative complications due to anastomotic leaks. With my former team member, Dr. Georgia Holder-Haynes, I observed a Gastric Bypass Roux-en-Y procedure at Baylor College of Medicine CHI St. Luke’s hospital to gain some insight on anastomosis formation. Dr. Holder-Haynes put us in contact with her colleague, Dr. Atif Iqbal, Surgical Quality Director at Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center and former Chief of Colorectal Surgery. From our meeting, we gained valuable insight about lower GI procedures from an expert in the field. Subsequently, as a team, we have brainstormed possible solutions and completed concept generation based on our identified user needs and design inputs. We are currently in the process of concept selection and working on our final end-of-semester pitch.

Outside of Rice, I had the chance to explore Texas. For fall break, Erik, Luc and I went to San Antonio to see the Alamo. On the way to San Antonio, we stopped at Texas’s finest gas station/convenience store, Buc-ee’s. At the Alamo, we saw the historical reenactment of the Alamo and learned about Texas history. We also explored the San Antonio Riverwalk and saw lots of chalk street drawings.

On the trip back to Houston, we blew Erik’s mind and brought him to Zaxby’s. He could not comprehend something better or up to par as Cane’s sauce. In Houston, as a GMI cohort, we went to Saint Arnold Brewery, a local brewery and I tried Cane’s for the first time.

Outside of Texas, we all attended the SWE Conference in Anaheim, California. It was a great opportunity to network and talk with industry professionals about their jobs and opportunities in companies. I had a great time learning a lot about the possible positions available and the projects at several major medical device companies. We also had to chance to connect with several Rice alumni and GMI alumni. It was great to hear from them about career advice and their perspective on the job hunt as they were in our shoes a couple years ago.

Outside the conference, we had the chance to explore some of California. The Packing District in Anaheim had a wide selection of food, from Indian food to Mexican and ramen. The perfect California weather and an afternoon at the beautiful Huntington Beach was amazing. I tried my first In-N-Out burger, Double-Double Animal Style with fries. The fries were mediocre, but the burger was great and so cheap compared to California prices for everything else.

As the first semester is coming to a close, I’m excited to see both of my projects turn into fruition and to explore even more of Texas.

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Eddie Yao, 2019-20 Cohort, MBE in Global Medical Innovation