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Collaborative program between JHU and JHMI seeks to solve problems through global outreach

January 23, 2014

GEI Project in Tanzania

A pedal-powered grain mill is engineered to improve process for milling corn in Tanzania. Image: Courtesy of Jeannine Coburn

The Global Engineering Innovation (GEI) Program hosts student teams who travel to foreign countries to apply their engineering skills to solve local problems. An article in the Johns Hopkins Gazette describes a recent project in Nazaçu, a community along the Amazon River in Brazil, where the team took on the design and production of a safer cassava mill that reduces the risk of injury.

The Global Engineering Innovation Program is seeded by a grant of the Johns Hopkins Office of the President as they investigate and tackle engineering challenges in the developing world.

BME faculty Jennifer Elisseeff is in an ideal position to advance the mission of the Global Engineering Innovation Program.Jennifer Ellisseff Her career has generated relationships with influencers in both business and academia. Dr. Elisseeff has founded several startup businesses. She serves on several advisory boards of medical and pharmaceutical and bioengineering companies. As the Jules Stein Professor of Ophthalmology a director of the Wilmer Eye Institute and Biomedical Engineering Translational Tissue Engineering Center, Dr. Elisseeff mentors and shapes brilliant young students in the biomedical engineering program and engages with some of the best clinical scientists in the world.

The recent trip to Brazil began in part by a chance conversation between Dr. Elisseeff and Wilmer Eye Institute director, Peter McDonnell. Dr. McDonnell spoke of his upcoming follow-up trip to Brazil. McDonnell, who had trained a number of young Brazilian ophthalmologists, had learned of the health issues that face people in remote areas of the Amazon River basin. His ensuring mission was to provide an assessment and advice to the Brazilian government's Ministry of Health. Dr. Elisseeff suggested the assistance of the GEI to help with his efforts.

Dr. Elisseeff in now looking into ways the GEI can team up with Engineers Without Borders as well as other Johns Hopkins groups to identify new projects and form new collaborations.

Global Engineering Initiative Program in IndonesiaGEI is currently hosting a team in Indonesia where JHU students are focused on design of a wind turbine, and the community’s agricultural needs. The Johns Hopkins team is partnering with Kopernick, an organization with which Elisseeff connected at a World Economic Forum.

More information about the Global Engineering Initiative Program is available on the Institute for NanoBioTechnoloogy’s website.