Global Studies Research Expedition: RIT Hope for Honduras
In October 2017, a select team of students traveled to Honduras for five days on an International Research Expedition with RIT Assistant Professor Golden to inform the process of design for the neonatal transport unit, emergency incubator and Skin-to-Skin care device.
The four students, three from RIT’s College of Art and Design and one from Kate Gleason College of Engineering represented the multidisciplinary lens that drove the ideation phase forward and advanced the projects. The trip was a fact-finding mission geared to improve student research skills and comprehension of global public health issues related to neonatal care and infant mortality. Students toured Hospital Escuela, spoke with doctors, nurses and ambulance drivers and shadowed in the neonatal intensive care unit while observing the conditions and context surrounding their respective projects.
This study abroad format was a unique, transformative learning experience that directly engaged students in a significant research and design project. Empowered with the responsibility of gathering, organizing and disseminating field study research with their peers and participating faculty mentors, students became stakeholders in their own learning.
Outcomes from the Experiential Research Expedition:
Students conducted ethnographic and observational research to inform 57 peers back at RIT in senior design and capstone studios. Distance communication enabled all RIT students working on projects to actively engage with their research representative thus enriching the experience and providing vital information to inform learning and project results.
The trip opened discussions for future research expeditions, student – faculty exchanges and discussions for creating memorandums of understanding between RIT and Honduran universities. An MOU with UNITEC was signed in 2019, faculty researchers are writing grants together and project sharing with students to bring the Abracito Skin-to-Skin collection to market.
The neonatal transport ambulance, a discovery project on the trip, is now in build out and readying for donation to the Honduran Red Cross in 2020.
The completed design for the hospital addition and renovation is pending a $6,000,000 approval from the Ministry of Health for bidding and construction, when operational it will save an additional 600 lives per year.
The student projects created at RIT following this trip were presented to the First Lady of Honduras, Ana Garcia Hernandez, the following year in a private meeting. Mrs. Hernandez endorsed the RIT Hope for Honduras projects and invited academic investigation into telemedicine enabled medical units to provide care in rural areas and offset the impact on overcrowded hospital emergency departments. We continue to work with her office, the Ministry of Health, and the BID to further realize the outcomes of this work.
Alexa Boyd, Interior Design
Hannah Lutz, Industrial Design
Victoria Tripp, Engineering
Boris Sherman, Photojournalism