PATH is an international nonprofit focused on global health innovation. I completed a summer fellowship with PATH in Seattle, WA, during summer 2018 in the product development shop, working on a variety of devices that promote environmental and human health. The product development shop is part of the Devices & Tools Global Program at PATH which develops, advances, and facilitates commercialization of health technologies for low-resource settings. A holistic approach to health innovation is used; each project team works on research, product development, field validation, and commercialization activities. The tasks for this fellowship varied based on each project’s needs, and included experimental design and testing of medical devices, creating three dimensional CAD drawings, design and construction of prototypes, and writing test protocols and reports. PATH products address a variety of needs in the developing world, including vaccines, diarrheal disease, HIV/AIDS, reproductive health, newborn care, and water, air, sanitation and hygiene (WASH). I was involved with multiple projects at PATH and was able to focus much of my time on WASH projects, including the design and prototyping of a non-plumbed hand washing station meant for use in latrines without electricity. I went through multiple design iterations and learned SolidWorks in order to sketch my designs and 3D-print scale models. I was also able to assist on a team that is developing special bags to aid in the collection and filtering of wastewater to scan for the presence of polio virus. I tested the effectiveness of these bags in storing water and keeping water at a cold temperature when in warm surrounding temperatures (in order to preserve the polio virus, if present, for testing).
Relation to my focus on clean water access
This internship built on my previous GCS experiences in the water and sanitation field and exposed me to a wider variety of global health challenges facing the world today. All of the projects I worked on at PATH emphasized the need for user-centered design and the special considerations that must be taken when designing products for use in the developing world. PATH’s holistic approach taken to product development helped prepare me for challenges I may face when working on new solutions for the global water access crisis. The polio bag and latrine hand washing station projects were especially helpful in furthering my knowledge of the WASH sector. I learned more details about the barriers to safe water and sanitation in communities and how widespread these problems are. I also did a fair amount of research into user preferences for WASH products such as hand washing stations and drinking water filters. The experience I gained with emerging WASH technologies and successful product commercialization is relevant to my senior year research and will serve me well moving forward.
Supervisor: Mike Eisenstein, PATH Product Development Shop Manager
Start date: May 14, 2018
End date: August 10, 2018
Hours to complete: 520 (40 hours/week for 3 months)