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Club seeks to improve healthcare around the world

Engineering World Health, a new Boston University non-profit student organization that aims to utilize the skills of biomedical engineers to improve healthcare in developing countries, will host its first meeting on Friday.

The EWH BU Chapter plans to travel to developing countries in the near future, said EWH BU Chapter President Pavandeep Mehat. They will donate necessary technology as well as send professional engineers to assist with the implementation of it in clinics and hospitals.

Mehat, a College of Engineering senior, said Friday’s meeting will introduce students to EWH’s mission, inform students of the EWH Design Competition and gauge students’ interest in outreach programs. 40 students are expected to attend.

“The biggest thing this [EWH] offers is that you get into the nuts and bolts of what medical devices are and how you design them, and really learn about the issues in the clinical settings in these areas,” Mehat said. “They [the medical devices] are more focused on civil engineering, the big picture view, the total community welfare.”

The Student Activities Office approved the new club on Oct. 30. Mehat said he established the BU student chapter of EWH to fill a void left by the Department of Biomedical Engineering at BU.

“At BU, there’s almost zero focus on medical devices in the BME [biomedical engineering] program,” Mehat said. “It’s a great BME program [at BU], but there’s no medical device focus, so this really gives you an outlet to hone that interest and try to create innovative solutions that can be applied to those settings.”

Mehat said the BU student chapter of EWH will also be involved in outreach programs at the local level by bringing biomedical engineering to high school students. The club also plans to start local outreach programs in the spring.

“We have this program at BU called [the] Technology Innovation Scholars Program, so we go to neighboring high schools and talk to them about engineering aspects,” Mehat said.

The EWH BU Chapter currently has a membership of roughly 40 students and plans to expand beyond the engineering community, Rajendranath Selagamsetty, ENG senior and vice president of the club, said.

Although there is a learning curve, and technical skills are needed for participation in the club, Selagamsetty said those elements of the experience should not deter students from joining.

“People who are really truly interested in medical devices could definitely learn whatever they need … to be a part of our group,” Selagamsetty said.

Christian Chabaneix, a member of the EWH BU Chapter, said having the support of Herbert Voigt, BU professor and the new club’s faculty advisor, will create many outreach opportunities.

“[Voigt] is also working with a university in Peru on projects,” Chabaneix said. “I was lucky enough to work over there in the summer with him, visiting the university, visiting hospitals, so definitely having him as our advisor helps with connections for potential trips in the future, perhaps to Peru. That will give us more opportunities to expand the chapter.”

Voigt said EWH provides and engineering perspective to world health solutions. He said since the chapter at BU is in its infancy, the first goal is to identify those students with an expressed interest in global health.

“The Western world may benefit from the low-tech solutions that our brilliant students come up with,” Voigt said. “… My perspective is that there are a lot of students at Boston University and there are a lot of opportunities to demonstrate leadership, and EWH is an opportunity to demonstrate leadership and make a contribution to the world.”

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