Hey everyone! I hope you guys are having a good summer so far! I’ve been having a great time, and have had a lot of fun these past few weeks.
At the very beginning of summer, just a couple days after finals ended, I went to Guatemala City with the WashU Guatemala Initiative, or WUGI for short. WUGI is a part of our chapter of Engineers without Borders, and we work on repairing broken medical equipment. During the school year, we trained with a couple of clinical engineers from BJC on some repair basics, and we got to spend two weeks in a hospital in Guatemala to put our training to use. The hospital we were at, Roosevelt Hospital, is the largest public hospital in Guatemala City, and because it is publicly funded, they don’t have the money to keep buying new equipment, or even to pay a maintenance staff to conduct regular maintenance of the machines they do have. Much of the equipment itself is very old and has been donated from countries like the US. Unfortunately, oftentimes these donations are an easy and profitable way for hospitals to get rid of old equipment, so they are not always in very good shape.
We had a pretty productive couple of weeks at Roosevelt. We spent almost as much time doing research (looking up user and service manuals, consulting with the BJC engineers, looking to buy spare parts, stuff like that) as actually working on equipment. In the end, we were able to fix around 11 machines in total, which was not bad for just two weeks!
It was a very rewarding experience, especially because we’ve formed a pretty close relationship with the hospital over the years. I went last year as well, and it was so nice to spend more time with some of the friends we made then. Also, the hospital is closed on the weekends, so one weekend we went to Lake Atitlan, which was absolutely beautiful, and the next weekend we went to the volcano Pacaya.
That was really cool to see, because there had been an eruption last year, and there were areas where you could feel that the rocks were still hot. Overall, it was an amazing experience and I really hope to go back next year!
As much as I enjoyed it, it’s also great to be home. Even though I’m only half an hour away during the school year, it’s nice to be back with my family. For the rest of the summer I’ll be working in the lab that I was in during the school year.
It’s a mechanical engineering lab and we look at the biomechanics of traumatic brain injury. I do a lot of mechanical testing on brain tissue mimics, like gelatin – stuff that acts relatively like brain tissue.
In my free time, I’ve been spending time with my family; playing lots of ping-pong and eating lots of ice cream with my little brother, watching Bollywood movies with my mom, going on walks with the dogs and the whole family. I also get to see a lot of my high school friends, whom I haven’t seen in a while. We’ve been to Shakespeare in the Park, gone bowling, and tried new restaurants. In general, it’s relaxing and fun and I’m having a great time! I hope you all have a fantastic rest of the summer and I’ll see you guys in the fall!