The Engineering World Health Summer Institute sends students and young professionals in engineering and science to three countries — Nicaragua, Rwanda, and Tanzania — where their skills are put to use repairing medical equipment that saves patients’ lives. It is the rare opportunity for participants to make an immediate impact.
In the Summer Institute, students receive training and hands-on experience working in hospitals and clinics with very few resources. Students are immersed in a different culture, living with local families, working alongside doctors and nurses, and learning a new language. For many, it’s the beginning of a long-term commitment to helping vulnerable patients and communities in the developing world.
The Summer Institute was launched in 2004 in partnership with Duke University, which continues to work closely with EWH in the Summer Institutes in Nicaragua and Tanzania. Texas A&M University joined with EWH as a second academic partner beginning in 2013, and co-sponsors the program in Rwanda.
Summer Institute is open to up to 70 qualified people from all countries, and admissions are competitive. Although a majority of participants are undergraduate and graduate students, the program often includes postgraduates and some young professionals.
Summer Institute participants spend nine weeks in-country. During the first month, students are paired and live with a local family, take language classes, and undergo rigorous training in how to diagnose and repair broken medical equipment. In the second month, students are deployed in pairs to local hospitals and clinics where they install and repair medical equipment, train and work with local staff, take inventory, solve problems and perform other engineering duties. In Rwanda, there is additional emphasis on design, innovation and product production for under-resourced areas.
The work conducted through the Summer Institute is both life-saving for the patients and communities served, and life-changing for the students at the heart of the program. To read about Summer Institute participants' first hand experiences, click here.