After 6 weeks of winter break, the semester is back in full swing as we are making fast progress towards final designs and later stage development. Over the break, I spent time celebrating the holidays with my family, made a trip back to Boston to visit my former coworkers, took a relaxing vacation to Mexico, and caught up on a lot of sleep and TV shows. I was getting bored towards the end, but it was a much-needed break before getting back into this semester. We have a lot to accomplish in the next few months, but I’m very happy with the progress that we’ve made in this first month already!
On our global project, developing a low-cost laparoscopic trainer for low-resource settings, we have had a lot of challenges balancing the needs of our stakeholders. We have a very diverse set of individuals who are involved in the project, and they all have different requirements in whatever device we develop. We have pivoted slightly and are seeking to make a super low-cost training device made of cardboard and are also possibly developing an app that would allow physicians to monitor students’ progress remotely and give more independence to students in their ability to assess their own performance. We met with residents in the global surgery program at Baylor College of Medicine who gave us really good insight about the importance of finding dedicated stakeholders and advice on how to balance conflicting needs in global health projects. I’m eager to continue making progress on our design and fabrication techniques for this project and hope that we can make an impact for each of our stakeholders.
In my local project, my team grew this semester with the addition of Erik and a student who just graduated with her PhD from Baylor. We are developing a needle guide that is to be used during ultrasound-guided vascular access that reduces the time and number of complications associated with this procedure. Luckily, Rocky had engineers at Baylor who were developing initial prototypes over last semester, but now we have taken over on that aspect of the project. We have been making iterations on our designs and are trying to get as much feedback as possible on the device to ensure that we are creating a device that fits the needs of physicians. We have also spent much of the semester so far developing business plans for the Rice Business Plan Competition and the Napier Rice Launch Challenge, both in March. We just heard back this week that we have been accepted into the Rice-only qualifier round for the Business Plan Competition and will find out about the Launch Challenge this week. These competitions are going to be intense, but I’m excited to pitch in a real entrepreneurial setting.
We’ve also had several group events over the past month that have been so much fun trying new things and exploring the city more. A few weeks ago, we went to an Indian restaurant for Lamiya’s birthday, and we got to try her favorite traditional foods from home. We were completely reliant on her for advice on what to order and ended up trying a lot of really good food. Erik also graciously hosted a dumpling making workshop for Chinese New Year. I quickly learned that I am not a great dumpling folder and will probably be sticking to just eating them from now on. I’ve also been busy on the job search – leveraging the connections I made at the Society of Women Engineers conference and networking with people in the Houston area to find a position that will allow me to stay in Texas and will challenge me to grow as an engineer. I’m excited for the rest of the winter and spring to see how much progress we can make on our projects, how much I can develop my technical skills, and where my job hunt lands me.