Why did you enroll in this course?
I want to apply the skills and techniques I’ve learned over the past two years on a project that generates a positive global impact. As a junior my coursework has become more project based. I’ve had the opportunity to take a few design classes on mountaintop, where I had to create both two and three dimensional projects with my bare hands. I’ve been practicing my computer aided drawing skills to design and create parts for various engineering projects. I enjoy making things. I enrolled in this class because I want my work to be for more than just a grade, and I see this fellowship as a perfect way to achieve that goal. It is also a good opportunity to sharpen my public speaking skills, which admittedly need some work.
How do you envision this course making you a better () student?
Since day one as an IDEAS major, Professor Best has really hammered home the idea of being conscious of what you’re working on and how it may affect society. We’ve studied case study after case study, observing and questioning decisions that were made by engineers prior to a disaster. Situations such as the Bhopal disaster or the Challenger rocket explosion almost always lead to the question: “To what extent is the engineer responsible?” Obviously the answer to this question varies case by case, however, it really makes me think about what kind of engineer I want to be, or more specifically, on what kind of projects I’d like to work.
I’ve been studying both mechanical engineering and design as an IDEAS major for the past couple of years, and I’ve come to realize that I don’t necessarily want to design and create for just any company or corporation. I’d like to work on projects that I actually care about, which I believe will make me a much more passionate engineer and designer. I think this course will project me into the professional world as a more compassionate person – more of a humanitarian than I was two years ago – in addition to improving my teamwork and public speaking skills. I think this course will help shape my IDEAS major, and force me to continue to ask important questions. If nothing else, I will become a better engineer and designer through real world practice.
The World Health Organization estimates that over one billion people who need eyeglasses do not have access to them. The vast majority of these people live in developing countries like Kenya where there is barely one optometrist per one million people. Given the high poverty levels, access to eyeglasses is almost nonexistent. Lack of proper eyeglasses severely impacts people and their livelihoods by decreasing their productivity at work, limiting or eliminating new opportunities, affecting their quality of life, deteriorating their general health and possibly leading to (preventable) blindness. What solution do you propose to address this problem?
There are a few glaring issues that need to be solved in order to fix this problem. First of all, there is not enough awareness and funding for this medical issue. People are more likely to donate their money to help fight killer diseases such as AIDS, malaria, or tuberculosis. Even with the proper funding, systems need to be put in place in these developing countries in order to get eyeglasses to the people living there.
According to EYElliance, a nonprofit committed to raising money for uncorrected vision, only $37 million (US), approximately one percent of all resources used for global health issues, was spent on providing developing countries with eyeglasses. EYElliance is a multi-sector coalition that works to access and educate impact investors, sector donors, foundations and governmental organizations in order to provide more funding for this serious world problem. In 2016 they, in cooperation with the Liberian government, started a campaign to provide nationwide eye care through schools and community health workers. They started a national school eye health initiative and established a referral network driven by Liberia’s community health workers. The plan, once fully operating, is expected to see the screening of 1 million primary and secondary school students, as well as 1.2 million Liberians living in remote communities, to provide those in need with glasses.
The solution I propose would be similar to the way EYElliance is tackling this problem. Increasing awareness for this issue seems like a surefire way to raise funds and would be the first step in the process. Blindly throwing money at a problem doesn’t fix it, however. In order to make sustainable progress on this issue, the government needs to step in and provide systems such as those issued by Liberia to their citizens. EYElliance approached the situation very practically; they were able to gain the support of both the government and its health network, and are now on track to correct the vision of millions of children in the country. I think a key to resolving problems such as this one is to utilize companies like EYElliance, who have the power and ability to not only provide funding, but to also ensure that the funds are used appropriately.
Jacobs, Andrew. “Global Need for Eyeglasses: The Biggest Health Crisis You’ve Never Heard Of.” The Seattle Times, The Seattle Times Company, 5 May 2018, www.seattletimes.com/nation-world/new-focus-on-global-need-for-eyeglasses/.
“Glasses Change Lives.” EYElliance, 6 May 2018, eyelliance.org/more/.