ECE Graduate Repairing Medical Equipment in Rwanda
By David Staudacher, UIC
Joshua Shubert didn’t have much time to celebrate graduation. On May 28, the new Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) alumnus flew to Rwanda with Engineering World Health (EWH) for a two-month project, where he will use his talent to repair medical equipment.
During the first month of the project he is scheduled to be in the city of Kigali, where he will take classes on how to repair medical equipment, while learning the local language and brushing up on the French he learned in high school.
“In the second month, I will be with another person at a hospital, where we will repair medical equipment,” said Shubert, of Lemont, Ill. “It may be stuff that’s been in a closet for years that no one has gotten around to fixing. Or it could be something that goes offline that day and they need it fixed.”
This isn’t his first time working on medical equipment. Throughout the school year, Shubert served as the electrical lead for the UIC-EWH chapter’s “Laminar Flow Hood” project. The project is based off a one-week site assessment in Vietnam, where two team members visited local pediatric hospitals and medical facilities in order to improve healthcare delivery using low-cost solutions. During the evaluation of the sterility of one of the hospitals, it was discovered that the infection rates were extremely high due to medications being compounded in an open air environment. To change this, the UIC students decided that a laminar flow hood was needed in order to provide the hospital staff with a sterile environment for mixing medications. Apart from improving hospital conditions, the project won the Maurice Prize Competition, which included a $5,000 prize.
“I joined Engineering World Health because I felt like there was a lot of room to grow,” said Shubert. “There are not many ECE students in the program, and when an electrical problem came up, I had to solve it. If I didn’t solve it, it didn’t get solved, which forces you to learn.”
“Also, the things we made help people directly,” he added. “What we build will go to a hospital and get used.”
The UIC student chapter of EWH inspires and mobilizes the engineering community to improve the quality of health care in vulnerable communities of the developing world. The students achieve their mission through innovation and strong alliances with partners. EWH is a global organization serving engineering students, healthcare professionals, communities around the world, and patients in need. It inspires, educates and empowers young engineers, scientists and medical professionals from more developed parts of the world to use their skills to improve global health. EWH offers young professionals an eye-opening, life-changing experience that encourages life-long engagement with global health, and enables them immediately to provide meaningful service to patients in the developing world.
When he returns from Rwanda, he is slated to attend Johns Hopkins University for graduate school, where he plans to continue working with medical devices. But before he heads to Baltimore, he plans to give back to the UIC community by sharing his experience, which was made possible with partial support from the ECE department.
“This will be the ultimate test of my engineering knowledge,” said Shubert. “I’d like to come back to UIC and talk about my experience with interested students who might want to do this for themselves.”
Learn more about the UIC chapter of Engineering World Health at UIC-EWH.