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EWH at VCU Wins “Chapter of the Year”

Friday, May 30, 2014  
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Despite living halfway around the world, students from Virginia Commonwealth University School of Engineering are helping developing nations provide reliable medical care. The VCU student organization Engineering World Health (EWH) was recently awarded “Chapter of the Year” for their impact on global healthcare

Making the award even more remarkable, the School's EWH chapter was just founded in 2013 when biomedical engineering graduate student Tyler Ferro introduced the idea during class. As an undergraduate at Oxford University, Ferro was an EWH member, and wanted to bring it to the School of Engineering.

“The main purpose of EWH is to give engineering students the means to help developing nation’s hospitals maintain their medical equipment and to train technicians,” said Ferro.

By the end of the academic year, the VCU chapter of EWH had accomplished more than any of the 30 other chapters, despite having just been founded. The chapter hosted two community-oriented science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) activities, reaching over 50 scouts from the Girl Scouts of the Commonwealth of Virginia, and 30 middle school students at MathScience Innovation Center's "Let's Innovate!" program. For these events, EWH at VCU designed a phototherapy kit for young students to build; so well that the kits are now incorporated in the lab portion of the School of Engineering's "Intro to Biomedical Engineering" class. The chapter did not stop there, however.

The members of EWH at VCU funded student trips to Nicaragua and Tanzania every way they could: from crowd-sourcing, fundraisers, scholarships, and even donations from local Richmond companies. The chapter's efforts allowed three students, Shruthi Murali, Paul Howell, and Brittany Allen, to travel across the world to help those in need.

"A lot of the time, their devices are donated," said Ferro. "Eventually, it breaks, and they don't have the resources or training to fix them. It's heartbreaking to see life-saving technology not doing what it was meant to do. That's why we're there."

It is this kind of dedication and insight that made Engineering World Health at Virginia Commonwealth University “Chapter of the Year.”

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