Student Team Shares Top Prize for Global Health Care Idea

Wednesday, July 22, 2020
Three images together. One shows Carla Archuleta, the other Abel Keeley and the third is a drawing of a health care professional monitoring patients using the device the students developed.

Students Carla Archuleta and Abel Keeley developed a low-cost oxygen saturation monitoring system for multiple patients as a way to assist health care facilities throughout the world.

A team of Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology students has shared the grand prize in an international design competition that encourages innovative medical technologies to solve global health concerns, such as the current pandemic and possible future viral outbreaks.

This spring, junior biomedical engineering student Carla Archuleta and sophomore electrical engineering major Abel Keeley designed a low-cost oxygen saturation monitoring system for multiple patients in acute care. The program was part of a Global Engineering for Health course, taught by electrical and computer engineering associate professor Deborah Walter. Senior computer engineering student Heda Wang is working this summer on developing a prototype in hopes of testing and data collection during the upcoming school year.

The students’ innovative idea was one of four grand prize winners in this year’s UBORA Design Competition, which is providing technical support to bring promising projects to reality in the near future. There were 28 applications involving more than 100 developers from throughout Europe, Africa, and North America.

“My sister is a health care provider and she mentioned that one of the challenges hospitals are dealing with now is how to monitor and provide care for patients while trying to minimize the time spent in the room with vulnerable and/or infectious patients. That was the inspiration for this project,” says Keeley, from Syracuse, New York.

Archuleta adds, “We thought a low-cost system would be useful for low-resource countries during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The student team is continuing to discuss development issues weekly with Walter throughout the summer.

“Once we get back on campus (this fall) it would be great to continue working on the prototype and testing the device. From there, we want to make improvements to the design,” said Archuleta, from Littleton, Colorado.

UBORA, which offers online infrastructure services for the medical community, sought open source technology solutions for COVID-19 or similar infectious disease outbreaks. Students in this spring quarter’s Global Engineering for Health course turned to the international design competition after international travel restrictions thwarted their original plans to fix hospital equipment while living in the Dominican Republic during the summer.

“I am passionate about helping others on a global scale, such as those in low-resource countries who do not have access to adequate health care,” adds Archuleta, whose career plans are to become a member of a research and design team for a biomedical company. “I think, as an engineer, it is my job to use my skills to help others to the best of my ability and I have always been passionate about the health care sector … I am interested in biomedical instrumentation and hope to design medical devices such as surgery tools. I also want to volunteer for non-profits such as Engineering World Health and go to low-resource countries to use my skills as an engineer in hospitals and health care centers.”

Meanwhile, Keeley enrolled in the Global Engineering for Health course in hopes of contributing to the global community, while practicing hands-on skills and learning more about the basics of electrical engineering and biomedical engineering.

“My overarching goal in engineering has always been to build things that help people. To achieve that, I plan on getting a design-oriented job in the electronics industry,” he said.