Monday, March 1, 2010

Monday a Big Day for Rice Teams

Backpack team

by Gale Wiley

Kigali, Rwanda (March 1, 2010) -- On their first working day here, Rice teams of MBAs and engineering undergraduate technical advisors met with government officials, heard sobering advice from local entrepreneurs, and visited district hospitals to show their products.

"It was a good day for everyone," said Professor Marc Epstein, who is leading his class on their mission to commercialize Rice bio-medical devices designed for emerging countries like Rwanda. "The students heard lots of promising news."

To improve the efficiency of their quest to meet as many medical officials as possible, the CPAP and IV Drip teams created two new teams, half of its members joining half the members of the other team.

IV "SmartDrip" Drip and CPAP "Baby Bubbles" Team Join Forces

The SmartDrip and CPAP infantAir teams joined forces, a move that paid off.

“We went to King Faisal Hospital with no expectations,” said Sachin Agrawal. “But we ended up getting a four-hour tour of the hospital which led to lots of exposure to doctors who were curious about our products.”

As the two combined teams toured the hospital, doctors started appearing.

As David Tipps put his team’s CPAP device through its paces, doctors made suggestions for how the unit could be improved.

“They really really loved the device,” said Agrawal.

The SmartDrip team showed their battery powered, low-cost IV monitor to doctors.

“One doctor said he could use 15 or 20 IV monitors now," said Agrawal. "He said he has five infusion pumps and 30 patients who need the pump, each of which costs several thousands dollars."

The doctor told us our device could replace his current pumps, Agrawal said. "The doctor liked our device's simplicity, cost, and portability."

The other IV/CPAP team visited Mahima district hospital where they saw HIV and neo-natal clinics.

“We saw several babies that could have used our CPAP device,” said Will Pike. “They had about 35 babies on the wing, from newborns in kangaroo pouches to babies under bilirubin lights for treating jaundice."

"The doctors loved our CPAP device," said Pike. "They made several suggestions for improving it. They wanted to order one now for testing."

Backpack Team

At Gikondo district hospital, the backpack team met up with a head nurse who stood in awe at the diagnostic portable backpack's many medical devices incuding a microscope, centrifuge, and lab tools.

“She said there was a pressing need for the backback because the clinic sends medical teams into the field to attend to serious cases,” said Leonard Yowell.

Later, the head of a local NGO of 20 local Rwandan physicians gave more insight on how medical care is delivered and organized.

Undergraduate Engineer Vani Rajendran demos backpack

At the end of the day, the backpack team met with Manna Energy, a water purification venture using carbon credits and a "for profit" model.

C-clamp Team

“On one of our visits to a local district hospital, one doctor told us that our C-clamp device alone doesn’t make sense without the oral syringe,” said Jan Goetgeluk. “We think it makes sense to offer the c-clamp as part of the oral syringe package.”

Medical officials told Goetgeluk's C-clamp team that Rwanda needs more oral syringes. A clinic nurse who monitors HIV patients told the team that many parents use spoons to give doses of medicine to their children, a practice fraught with error.

The C-clamp device which regulates the amount of medication a patient receives via an oral syringe is a practical and cheap way to manage the dosing problem, said Goetgeluk.


  1. Way to go guys & girls! I am proud of all of the work you are doing over there. Way to represent Rice! Enjoy the rest of your trip and have safe travels back to Houston.

  2. Keep up the good work!