Hong Kong team wins 6th Rice 360° design competition
Georgia Tech team takes top honors in NEWT’s inaugural design contest
Undergraduate teams from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) and Georgia Institute of Technology took the top prizes April 15 at two design competitions at Rice University’s BioScience Research Collaborative.
SIGHT, a five-member team from HKUST, took top honors in the 2016 Undergraduate Global Health Technologies Design Competition. The competition was sponsored by Rice 360° Institute for Global Health with support from the Lemelson Foundation. It featured student teams who had designed technologies to address specific health needs in low-resource settings.
Caring Friends Executive Director John Collier (back row) with Rice 360° Institute for Global Health’s 2016 Undergraduate Global Health Technology Design Competition prize winners (from left) Michelle Wing Yu Lee, Sandra Anna Sobanska, Nadiya Aisha Yudiana, Nicole Huan, Melody Jin Teng Chung, Kevin, Molly Munsell and Erik Thomas. (Editor’s note: “Kevin” is the student’s full name.)
SIGHT, the first team from HKUST to participate in the Rice competition, captured first place with its Electronic Medical Record System, an electronic, real-time patient record system that caters to medical teams operating mobile clinics in resource-poor communities. The system, which has been implemented in mobile clinics in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, since summer 2015, features a simple user interface, fingerprint-based patient registration and a keyword search-based disease and medication database.
TruePani, a four-member team from Georgia Tech, won first prize at the inaugural Undergraduate Global Water Technologies Design Competition. The contest was sponsored by the Rice-based Center for Nanotechnology Enabled Water Treatment (NEWT Center), a national research center that is developing mobile, off-grid water-treatment systems. TruePani earned top marks for its water disinfection system for Indian households. The team’s kit uses a thin layer of anti-microbial copper on both a drinking cup and a germ-killing lotus flower — a symbol of purity in Indian culture — that is attached to a chain so it can be placed in a home’s water storage container.
Although this was only the first year for the Undergraduate Global Water Technologies Design Competition, the Undergraduate Global Health Technologies Design Competition was in its sixth year.
Veronica Leautaud, director of education for Rice 360°, said SIGHT’s win highlights the increasingly international nature of the global health design competition.
“We’ve grown our international participation in each of the last three years,” she said. “This year, we welcomed teams from Jimma University in Ethiopia, Malawi Polytechnic in Blantyre, Malawi, and HKUST.” The competition also drew 18 U.S. teams from more than a dozen universities.
Leautaud said this was also the first year the competition was able to offer cash prizes to the top three teams. The prizes were sponsored by Houston-based nonprofit Caring Friends, on the condition that each team donates the prize money to another organization that is working in the same area that the team intends to impact with its technology.
Team Pneu Vac from Carnegie Mellon University took second place with its low-cost mechanical pump made to remove fluids from the mouth during dental procedures. The innovative pneumatic system features parts — like empty soda bottles and bicycle tire valves — that are readily available in most low-resource settings.
Project Mesa from the University of Michigan’s student global health initiative — Michigan Health Engineered for All Lives — captured third place with its portable OB-GYN exam table. The folding exam table, which collapses to form a backpack, enables clinicians to perform OB-GYN exams in remote, low-resource communities that aren’t easily accessible.
Team NeoVate from John Hopkins University won the best poster award for its proposal to use wireless sensors to monitor the vital signs of infants and transmit alerts via SMS text message to clinician caregivers. The people’s choice award went to Rice’s own Wounder Women for its simulation system for training patients and their caretakers how to properly care for diabetic wounds.
In the water competition, Texas A&M University’s VitaeMare took second place for its NanoWell device for low-power water generation in the developing world, and Virginia Tech University’s Futuristic Five earned third-place honors for its proposed forward-osmosis microbial desalination cell for seawater and wastewater treatment.
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