Well before the spring semester began, three bioengineering seniors were already doing coursework—in Tanzania. Marci Elpers, Britton McCaskill and Lauren Sosdian worked in Tanzania from January 5-17 as part of their senior project and the Creative Inquiry course taught by Drs. Delphine Dean and John DesJardins.
During the previous semester, the students designed a temperature-sensor and heating blanket system for premature babies in areas where standard neonatal incubators are unavailable. Currently, premature babies in Tanzania are kept together in small rooms heated to approximately 40°C. According to Dr. Dean, who accompanied the students, “numerous problems with infections arise from the heat and humidity.”
Dr. Dean said that the key to the students’ design was to make the device using only inexpensive parts that are readily available in Tanzania. “One of the trip’s goals was to investigate which parts we could get in the three towns we visited,” she said.
The students worked with technicians at each hospital to ensure that the device could be manufactured in Tanzania. Ms. Sosdian noted, “It was a really good opportunity to survey the potential market for our device so we could make changes before the design of the final product. The entire experience has shaped the rest of my time here at Clemson and my future.”
— Lauren Sosdian