Facing Grand Challenges in Global Health
As a senior majoring in biomedical engineering, Justine Schneider’s days are spent engaging in challenging course work, serving as president for the Engineering World Health (EWH) student group, developing medical device design projects, and applying her skills as a research and development intern. In Fall of 2018, Justine participated in the Acara course, GCC 3003: Seeking Solutions to Global Health Issues, which made a large impact in her personal and professional development. Here is Justine’s take on how the Grand Challenge course has benefitted her:
I had a desire to learn more about global health, and that’s what compelled me to take Acara’s Grand Challenge course. It allowed me and other students to work within interdisciplinary teams in order to tackle fundamental global health issues while taking culture, equity, and sustainability into account. The course really emphasized the importance of listening to others, engaging in the problem, asking questions to understand the root of the problem, and collaborating with the community for local ownership in a solution. My team and I focused our research on increasing awareness of hypertension in Uganda. During our time together, my view of Grand Challenges drastically changed. Even though I was interested in global health and involved in EWH before this class, I hadn’t made the connection about how I could start making an impact in global health and correlated Grand Challenges today.
This course augmented my ability to problem solve and instilled my foundational knowledge and curiosity about global health. In relation to my current work, I have funneled this passion into a new project through EWH that aims to remedy specific health needs in Ethiopia. This is very exciting for my team and I, as our project is expected to be the first solution that EWH will implement abroad.
Specifically, we are working on ways to develop a low-cost pediatric spacer out of local Ethiopian materials. A spacer is the plastic piece that attaches to an inhaler and helps the child to breathe in their medication. As a project lead, I am guiding the technical development team, collaborating with Ethiopian clinicians, initiating fundraising, and planning a future pilot study. Through the skills I developed within the Grand Challenge course, I am better able to consider the cultural aspects and feasibility of our work. My team and I are very excited to see how this project will grow and develop! Courses like GCC 3003 are important in challenging myself and others to solve problems that we have never faced before, and I am very glad to have worked on a project that is focused on the wellbeing of a community.