Visiting students get eyeful

05 June 2006

Eight biomedical engineering students from Northwestern University (NU) in Chicago visited the UCT's equivalent facility for two months, participating in a course covering the broad spectrum of health care technology management, led by Mladen Poluta.

They gathered at the Lung Institute auditorium last week to present four design projects: James Bekeny and Jefferson Jones on neonatal monitoring; Aaron Eifler and Mike Hoaglin on digital X-ray imaging; Thanan Lilaonitkul and Kyle Sutton on patient identification systems; and Charlie Miller and Sam Pickerill on a rapid TB diagnostic kit.

Their main focus has been on medical device design that takes into account the particular needs of developing countries. Taking the students straight to the heart of things, they visited 12 clinics, including SHAWCO's facilities, to observe how they operate.

The exercise proved useful. "It's made us more aware of designing appropriate technology for users in the developing world," Lilaonitkul said. "In these clinics we've seen real world applications."

He said it had been eye opening to see people queuing from 05h00 in the morning for basic health care services.

The eight students were accompanied by Professor David Kelso (who has already returned to Chicago) and Professor Matt Glucksberg, head of biomedical engineering at NU, the largest unit in the engineering faculty there.

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