This week in class, we did lectures on a variety of equipment such as ventilators, oxygen concentrators, electrocardiograms, and defibrillators. We also did some pretty nice labs which get the students accustomed to dealing with hands-on electrical circuits. We did one lab where students had to construct a flashlight from a battery, a switch, and an LED.
|a basic flashlight!|
Yesterday I took 12 students back to the hospital in Nandaime. This is a small hospital in a village which doesn't have an engineering staff. This means that when things get broken or fall out of calibration, there is really no one to help them. Therefore, they had a huge inventory of things for us to look at. These ranged from the somewhat mundane, like a floor lamp, to tediously complicated, like an autoclave.
|the control panel on the autoclave is simply a metal rod with some screws in it that open and close a series of switches when it is turned.|
In one of the more bizarre things that I have ever seen, one of our students was taking apart a microscope that wouldn't turn on. She discovered that a lizard had crawled into the microscope and shorted out the power supply. The fuse had successfully blown to protect the electronics, but the lizard didn't fare so well and was found petrified on the circuit board!
|a petrified lizard!|
|a clutch of lizard eggs found deep inside the microscope|
In a more humbling moment, we were handed a handheld ultrasonic fetal heartbeat monitor. The doctor told us that it worked but gave noisy measurements and that the measured heart rates were definitely off. She told us to be careful since it was their only working one. The problem seemed pretty clear in that the connector between the ultrasonic wand and the base unit were hopelessly frayed and degraded.
|the frayed ultrasound wand cable|
|The USB style connector was in pretty bad shape. At least two pins were probably not consistently making contact.|
Anyways, despite that, it has been a fairly successful few days, and everyone seems to be learning and having fun. Hopefully next week we will get to visit a facility in Managua where they collect broken medical equipment from across the entire country. I am really looking forward to that!
|Our hard work was rewarded with a nice pile of coconuts which we had to learn to open ourselves with the hospital's machete!|