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Supporting Global Medical Care through Engineering

Engineering World Health

Syracuse’s chapter of Engineering World Health, founded by Andrew Ramos ’17, is helping people in underdeveloped countries receive better medical technology and health care.

Andrew Ramos and fellow engineers soldering on circuit boards in an electronics lab
Photo by Steve Sartori

San Diego native Andrew Ramos ’17 came to the College of Engineering and Computer Science to study bioengineering and make a life for himself. Now, he is making a difference in the lives of others. Thanks to his efforts founding the University’s chapter of Engineering World Health (EWH), people in underdeveloped countries have the chance to receive better medical care. “Engineers create and develop technology that can have tremendous impact,” says Ramos, president of the EWH campus chapter. 

The global organization’s mission is to improve the medical technology and delivery of health care in areas of the world where it is severely lacking, and the students in the University’s chapter are working hard to fulfill that goal. “Our group purchases medical device kits from EWH and assembles them, using soldering and the circuitry techniques learned in class, to produce optical heart rate monitors and electrocardiogram simulators,” Ramos says. The completed instrumentation goes back to EWH headquarters to be shipped to such countries as Nepal and Rwanda, where they are used in training biomedical engineering technician students, as well as diagnostics tools to repair other medical equipment. 

Deeply dedicated to bioengineering and enthusiastic about the field, Ramos found ways for the EWH group to engage and inspire others. During National Engineers Week, they talked with students about their work and showcased prosthetic arms they assemble for the Helping Hands Project of Odyssey Teams Inc., an organization that provides artificial limbs to hundreds of thousands of amputees in more than 75 developing countries. 

It’s an organization in which I can apply my engineering skills to improve global health by providing meaningful service to patients in the developing world.

—Justine Paul

Open to Syracuse University and SUNY ESF students in any major, the EWH group also tutors students from the Syracuse Northeast Community Center mentoring program in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, and has hosted them on campus. “We were touring the biology labs and one young girl in pigtails—she was in third grade and couldn’t have been more than 9—said, ‘When I come to Syracuse, I want to study here,’” says Ramos, who will work toward a doctorate in medical sciences at the University of Oxford, England. “It was so moving to me to hear her say that! It makes all the effort worthwhile.” 

For Justine Paul ’18, being an EWH member is more than just a line on her resume. “It’s an organization in which I can apply my engineering skills to improve global health by providing meaningful service to patients in the developing world,” says Paul, who joined the group as a first-year bioengineering student. She now serves as chair of the chapter’s EWH design competition team, collaborating with two professors at the SUNY Upstate Medical University College of Nursing to develop a monitor that tracks sleeping positions of preterm infants. The device will have to meet the criteria for the EWH national design competition, which challenges teams to produce a technical solution that can contribute to improved health care in countries with limited resources. 

According to the World Health Organization, 15 million babies are born preterm, each year, worldwide. “Premature babies have difficulties sleeping, and their sleep patterns have been linked to developmental issues,” Paul says. Preterm babies are also vulnerable to sudden infant death syndrome, the leading cause of death among infants up to 12 months old. “We plan to submit our entry to the EWH national competition for the upcoming year, since we’re still working on the prototype,” she says. “Being able to develop a cost-effective and user-friendly device would be beneficial for users worldwide—and help save the lives of many newborn babies.” 

Paula Meseroll

This story was published on .

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