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A safe incubator that will be used in local health centers in developing countries.

In designing this device, our goal has been to engineer a simple solution to a complex problem in the developing world. Our proposal is to design a safe incubator that will be used in local health centers, be easily assembled, be portable, need minimal operating capabilities and will keep the infant warm and hydrated.

1 out of every 22 babies born in the world dies before reaching 28 days of age. In developed countries, such as the United States, these babies are cared for via infant incubators, life support machines that provide adequate thermal regulation and environmental control for the baby while it uses all of its resources to complete development and attain normal size. However, in developing countries, infant incubators are not adequately utilized.

One reason for this underutilization is the complexity of design of standard incubators. Even when incubators are donated to third-world health facilities, they often end up gathering dust in the basement. The reasons for this are two-fold:

  • Standard incubators are difficult to maintain, and the health staff find the incubators too complicated to use
  • Repairs on these incubators require specially trained technicians who are not available

In addition, in the developing world, there is a larger proportion of primary and intermediate health facilities than there are in the developed world. These facilities vary widely in environmental conditions and services provided for neonatal care. However, the design of current incubators for homogeneous American hospital rooms does not allow for this variance. As a result, these facilities are burdened by maintenance of incubator features that they do not need. This discourages incubator use in these clinics, leaving low weight infants born in these areas without any means of care.

Furthermore, a large portion of low birth weight infants die in transit to hospitals, as there are not currently available adequate means to transport these babies in a thermally controlled environment.

The aim of this project is to design an infant incubator for primary and intermediate health facilities which address the problems stated above.

The Spring 2017 semester of ENGR215 Introduction to Design worked with Zane Middle School to design and build sustainable and educational infrastructure and apparatuses that supports K-8 STEAM education at their Eureka, CA location.

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Albert Einstein

Problems cannot be solved at the same level of awareness that created them.

— Albert Einstein
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