For the first month of the project, my home base was the colonial city of Granada. There, I fine tuned my language schools by taking intensive Spanish classes with local teachers in the morning. In the afternoon, I conducted lab-
work with my peers, dissected biomedical equipment, and learned repair techniques from experienced engineers. Training for approximately 8 hours every day and completing outside assignments after class prepared me thoroughly for the second phase of the project: working as a medical technician.
I spent my second month of the project serving as a technician at Hospital Bautista in Managua. The 2nd largest private hospital in Managua, Hospital Bautista prides itself on offering a variety of services to its patients. The hospital staff was a pleasure to work with; moreover, providing maintenance and technical repair in the hospital’s multiple sectors were valuable experiences.
The hospital staff took my team members and me in and helped us to adjust to learn as much as possible. Specifically the technicians, Osmar Moreno and Don Julio, put us
in positions to contribute to the hospital. Frequently, we accompanied Osmar on trips to hardware stores to buy replacement parts and accompanied Don Julio on routine maintenance. They empowered us to be confident and use what we’ve learned to fix equipment.
Maintenance at Bautista involved working in every area of the hospital, from neonatal to hemodialysis to laboratory units. As a result, I gained a strong understanding of how the hospital functions as a whole
We often consulted online manuals to understand a device’s problem before opening it up and attempting to fix. Circuit diagrams became increasingly useful as we dealt with more power source problems due to blown fuses and transformers. Many manuals were written in English, so we were able to translate for Osmar and Don Julio and discuss a plan of action. Many repairs were completed as expected; however, a great deal involve
d using innovative new methods, including: checking for wire connectivity, replacing transformers, and cleaning the interiors of microscopes.
Before releasing equipment to the hospital for usage, the engineering team always performed the necessary tests to ensure efficacy. The correct tests varied based on equipment type. We always placed a large emphasis on testing to make sure we didn’t simply glance over problems without fixing them.
My goal in earning the I&E Certificate has always involved merging technology and business-thinking to create impact. My experience repairing countless devices with EWH Nicaragua instilled a confidence working with real medical machinery. I feel like I could examine any piece of equipment, medical or non-medical, and make a strong attempt to diagnosis and fix it, because I’ve realized most machinery is based on the same core pieces – power source, circuitry, display, etc. Before, I would see a jumble of wires and parts, but now I better understand how the purpose of a device matches its components and structure. The skills I gained rewiring circuitry, soldering, and testing different types of medical equipment can certainly be applied in a future role.
Moving forward, knowing what’s under the hood of devices will be useful when actually designing and creating new devices. I envision myself at the forefront of an innovative process, able to identify an unmet need and collaborate to create a fitting solution, one that is efficient and practical. Engineering in the developing world requires a lot of improvisation and practicality, as cutting-edge equipment isn’t available. This has given me a leg-up in adaptability, an ability to see where certain devices can be simplified and made cheaper, while retaining the function.