Beyond Traditional Borders

Lead Institution: Rice University, Houston, TX

Collaborating Institutions: Academic institutions, healthcare organizations, non-governmental organizations, and government agencies

Category: Course/Curricular

Date Implemented: 2005

Website: www.btb.rice.edu

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Program Description: The Beyond Traditional Borders (BTB) design curriculum teaches undergraduates from all majors to use the engineering design process as a framework to formulate solutions to complex health challenges identified by a global network of clinical partners delivering healthcare in low-resource settings. Students work in interdisciplinary teams to develop and implement technologies in response to the challenges, and clinical partners mentor teams as they use the engineering design process to develop their technologies. Students identify design criteria; design solutions; build, test, and refine prototypes; and present work to multidisciplinary teams of mentors, working on increasingly complex design challenges as they progress through the curriculum and invest in their designs because they want to produce a useful intervention to improve global health, not simply to earn a good grade. Exceptional students undertake extended summer internships to implement their technologies in hospitals and clinics in the developing world. Under the guidance of trained healthcare providers, interns are expected to: demonstrate technologies and gather feedback; develop and implement a solution to another barrier to health care identified by the host site; and pinpoint a new challenge for which a solution can be developed and implemented. U.S. academic institutions collaborated to develop the original curriculum and continue to provide design challenges and mentorship. Healthcare organizations in low-resource areas in the developing world and U.S. help identify design challenges, mentor students, give feedback, and host interns. Foreign academic institutions provide formal research opportunities. One technology was licensed to industry, students have filed 8 provisional patents with 3 converted to utility patents or patents pending, and students have developed 58 designs used in 21 countries to care for 45,000 patients.

Anticipated and Actual Outcomes: BTB was designed to: (1) create an interdisciplinary cadre of graduates that would become the next generation of leaders in global health and (2) teach a diverse group of students how to use science and engineering for humanitarian benefit. Another objective was to develop new technologies to implement in resource-poor settings to improve health outcomes and reduce global health inequities. In addition to learning the engineering design process, it was anticipated that students would learn cross-disciplinary and cross-cultural problem-solving and leadership skills, preparing them for careers and graduate education in global health technology. Students participating in either BTB design courses or other Rice courses with a civic research component were surveyed. More BTB students reported the course project enhanced skills in: creativity (60% BTB; 28% other); leadership (78% BTB; 44% other); ability to effect social change (60% BTB; 40% other); and ability to solve real-world problems (94% BTB; 76% other). A survey showed that 95% of international interns intend to include global heath in their careers.

Assessment Information: The program is assessed according to the following questions: (1) How is the program valuable or not for students in the short or long term? What are student, faculty, and international partner perspectives on the students’ experiences? Indicators include number of students who pursue higher education or careers related to science/global health technologies and number of technologies developed and disseminated that improve global health. Surveys, student career paths, mentor feedback, student focus groups, student outcomes, and the impact of current and future designs are used for assessment. (2) In student achievement and future career directions of undergraduate students, what is the relative value of project-based courses, local research experiences, international research experiences, international internships, and programs integrating all approaches? Indicators include student value of experiences; persistence in related research and development activities; participation rates in multiple programs; and publications resulting from participation. Course-instructor evaluations, student team evaluations, exit questionnaires, alumni surveys, student and faculty vitas, publication searches, citation impact, and peer review through an external evaluation committee are used for assessment. Alumni are just entering their careers, but four student-authored papers have been published in peer-reviewed journals and student teams have won 18 competition awards.

Funding/Sustainability: The program was implemented with $2.2 million over 4 years. Students work on their technologies in the Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen, a 12,000 sq. ft. space for undergraduate students with ready access to design tools, prototyping equipment, computational facilities, meeting rooms, and ample space for prototype design and development. In addition to global health technologies, the OEDK supports design projects across a wide variety of topics. Funding was provided by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute through its Undergraduate Science Education Program. Rice provided support for staff salaries and philanthropic funding for internships and design teams was also received. BTB has been institutionalized as a minor in global health technologies, which has engaged more than 10% of undergraduates since 2006. Women represent 65% of students in the minor’s core courses; underrepresented minorities represent 18%. The design courses in the program and the facilities to support the efforts of the design teams are operated primarily with institutional support. Currently, the international internship is primarily supported with grant funds; however, the program is steadily expanding through philanthropic support for internships and design teams.



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Beyond Traditional Borders Lead Institution: Rice University, Houston, TX Collaborating Institutions: Academic institutions, healthcare organizations, non-governmental organizations, and government agencies Category: Course/Curricular Date Implemented: 2005 Website: www.btb.rice.edu Program Description: The Beyond Traditional Borders (BTB) design curriculum teaches undergraduates from all majors to use the engineering design process as a framework to formulate solutions to complex health challenges identified by a global network of clinical partners delivering healthcare in low- their careers. resource settings. Students work in interdisciplinary teams to Assessment Information: The program is assessed according develop and implement technologies in response to the chal- to the following questions: (1) How is the program valuable or lenges, and clinical partners mentor teams as they use the not for students in the short or long term? What are student, engineering design process to develop their technologies. faculty, and international partner perspectives on the students’ Students identify design criteria; design solutions; build, test, experiences? Indicators include number of students who pursue and refine prototypes; and present work to multidisciplinary higher education or careers related to science/global health teams of mentors, working on increas- technologies and number of technologies ingly complex design challenges as they developed and disseminated that improve progress through the curriculum and global health. Surveys, student career invest in their designs because they want paths, mentor feedback, student focus to produce a useful intervention to groups, student outcomes, and the impact improve global health, not simply to earn a good grade. of current and future designs are used for assessment. (2) In Exceptional students undertake extended summer internships to student achievement and future career directions of undergradu- implement their technologies in hospitals and clinics in the ate students, what is the relative value of project-based courses, developing world. Under the guidance of trained healthcare local research experiences, international research experiences, providers, interns are expected to: demonstrate technologies international internships, and programs integrating all ap- and gather feedback; develop and implement a solution to proaches? Indicators include student value of experiences; another barrier to health care identified by the host site; and persistence in related research and development activities; pinpoint a new challenge for which a solution can be developed participation rates in multiple programs; and publications and implemented. U.S. academic institutions collaborated to resulting from participation. Course-instructor evaluations, develop the original curriculum and continue to provide design student team evaluations, exit questionnaires, alumni surveys, challenges and mentorship. Healthcare organizations in low- student and faculty vitas, publication searches, citation impact, resource areas in the developing world and U.S. help identify and peer review through an external evaluation committee are design challenges, mentor students, give feedback, and host used for assessment. Alumni are just entering their careers, but interns. Foreign academic institutions provide formal research four student-authored papers have been published in peer- opportunities. One technology was licensed to industry, reviewed journals and student teams have won 18 competition students have filed 8 provisional patents with 3 converted to awards. utility patents or patents pending, and students have developed Funding/Sustainability: The program was implemented with 58 designs used in 21 countries to care for 45,000 patients. $2.2 million over 4 years. Students work on their technologies Anticipated and Actual Outcomes: BTB was designed to: (1) in the Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen, a 12,000 sq. ft. create an interdisciplinary cadre of graduates that would space for undergraduate students with ready access to design become the next generation of leaders in global health and (2) tools, prototyping equipment, computational facilities, meeting teach a diverse group of students how to use science and rooms, and ample space for prototype design and development. engineering for humanitarian benefit. Another objective was to In addition to global health technologies, the OEDK supports develop new technologies to implement in resource-poor design projects across a wide variety of topics. Funding was settings to improve health outcomes and reduce global health provided by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute through its inequities. In addition to learning the engineering design Undergraduate Science Education Program. Rice provided process, it was anticipated that students would learn cross- support for staff salaries and philanthropic funding for intern- disciplinary and cross-cultural problem-solving and leadership ships and design teams was also received. BTB has been skills, preparing them for careers and graduate education in institutionalized as a minor in global health technologies, which global health technology. Students participating in either BTB has engaged more than 10% of undergraduates since 2006. design courses or other Rice courses with a civic research Women represent 65% of students in the minor’s core courses; component were surveyed. More BTB students reported the underrepresented minorities represent 18%. The design courses course project enhanced skills in: creativity (60% BTB; 28% in the program and the facilities to support the efforts of the other); leadership (78% BTB; 44% other); ability to effect design teams are operated primarily with institutional support. social change (60% BTB; 40% other); and ability to solve real- Currently, the international internship is primarily supported world problems (94% BTB; 76% other). A survey showed that with grant funds; however, the program is steadily expanding 95% of international interns intend to include global heath in through philanthropic support for internships and design teams. 20