GSIF Blog Post #5

As someone who grew up in a small town where most of the work done on my house, and land, was done by myself and my family, I have been able to develop problem solving and design process skills throughout the years. One of the main ways we would design a project was by first identifying the problem. From that point forward we would look into the ways that the problem has been solved before. We would then look into the reasons the widespread solution may not work for our specific situation and then we would continue to explore other options for solving the issue. Once we had come up with our best solutions we would either decide on the best one or if we needed another opinion before deciding we would contact a professional who could give their input into our situation. After making a decision I would begin the project while keeping my mind open in order to see things that may possibly cause issues. This would allow me to adapt throughout the project to ensure I could create the best solution for this project. One example of this is when the cement floor of my barn began to sink. I brainstormed ideas but I knew that the first step was going to be to remove the floor. I then immediate started to destroy and remove the floor, only to find that a natural spring was below the foundation of the barn. I essentially knew what had to be done from this point onward but I had never poured a concrete floor over a natural spring. Therefore I contacted people I knew had done this before to hear about their experiences in similar situations. Once I had discovered what I believed would be the best plan of action, I began work. I dug a water system below the barn so the water would not erode the ground below the floor. I also created a drainage system that took the water deeper below the barn while simultaneously diverting any excess water out the back of the foundation through a hole I drilled in the concrete. Once I had finished that part of the project I filled in the holes and trenches with dirt and then waited to see if the ground would be dry or continue to have a natural spring. Once I saw that my solution had worked I finished it off by pouring a concrete floor reinforced by rebar. This is the main design process that I have used over the many projects I have had throughout the years.

In order to validate our project we would run many optimization tests and also reliability tests in order to see how often our product is reliable. We would also look for accreditation from organizations (ie WHO, FDA ect) we would use these to prove that our product is reliable and can be trusted by people throughout the world. We would plan our business model around testing those who have not been tested and testing children at a very young age. Therefore if our product would be able to test a large amount (or just a small percent) of the children who are born throughout the next coming years we would be able to use newborns as our market. Children need to be tested at a young age and this would allow us to have a market for our product for years and years to come.

I believe that we a venture should be in constant contact with their market (in order to create the best product possible for their consumers). I also believe that ventures should keep in touch with the communities they are working with in order to create a product that will have the most impact on their lives. It is similar to a give and take system, we want to create the best product for our consumers and therefore we need to be in contact with them so we can create the most impactful product. I believe it i best for partners, communities, and markets when all of the mention groups are in contact and their is clarity. People need to fully understand the needs and how that will impact the partners and the market the product will be going into. When all groups have a clear understanding of what each group needs from the other, it allows for more efficient work and the development of a product that should have the most impact since the groups have been in contact for a long time.

-Jaro Perera

GSIF Blog Post 4

Evolution is the law of nature which has allowed organisms to diversify into what they are today. The changes that occurred throughout millions of years has led to many organisms going extinct. Similarly, organisms would evolve in order to better survive their environment. Some of these changes were able to effect populations directly, one example of this is how homo sapiens were able to fight the malaria disease by evolving to have the trait of sickle cell( based off of where the malaria disease is common and the. This trait allowed people to ward off the symptoms of malaria. This example is similar to a state of mind, you always want to adapt to the situation and make yourself better. Improving this project and making it the most impactful it can be. Similarly, due to the second law of thermodynamics, the world and all of it’s matter trend towards an increase in chaos. This can be related to the fact anything within this project and throughout daily life can change and we should be ready to accept those changes and work to make ourselves better because of them. Furthermore, the law of physics that states “for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction”. So as we make progress on helping people identify their sickle cell disease, there if more pressure on other areas of sustainable development that need to make progress as well. Areas such as food or clean water need to advance their areas as much as the medical side has.

The life principle that I believe can apply to our lives is optimize rather than maximize. There is only so much time any one person has and there may be too many projects or tasks to handle in a certain amount of time. This is an unfortunate situation because no matter what that person does they will be living something to be desired. Therefore we have to accept that possibility that these types of situations will arise and we have to do our best to keep a clear mind and make the most of the situation. Furthermore we can apply this to our project in the sense that once the flow of the test strip has been perfected, it can take many new forms as we, and others, develop more tests which can be conjugated on our tests strips. This allows for many more advancements within the medical point-of-care diagnostic area. This can help create even more pressure on the other areas to advance their fields to match the pace of the point-of-care diagnostic field. This in turn will allow countries with lost of capital and resources to continue to help the other countries which could use assistance in several areas. With this life principle in mind we can continue to make impact throughout the world.

Based off the cradle to cradle design, we hope to make our product as sustainable as possible. We will search for the materials which will have the least amount of negative impact on the environment. We will also look for methods of recycling our materials as much as possible. I cannot image a situation where our test strips would cause any social or economic problems.

One example of something I learned from a friend was when my friend Jack and I had an amazing conversation about politics. We had differing views and it was very interesting to here someone talk about the same issues I had but from another point of view. We were able to acknowledge each others points and come to some sort of compromises on the issues we found within the current political world. I had never had a conversation of that nature and that taught me about the way of having a very intelligent conversation. Another time I learned something significance from a friend is when I learned about Islam from a friend. I learned about the history of the religion and many of their key practices and the forms they take in the modern world. This friend gave me an interesting lesson that I most likely would never have had unless I went out of my way to take a course on it. One last thing I gained from a friend is when I showed me how to work as a team. We were making several projects together along with several other people. We began not working well as a team but as the time went on my friend showed me how important it is to make a bond with the people you are working with as it will allow for people to work much better as a team.

-Jaro Perera

GSIF Blog Post #3

For our project to see nay success we need people to be affected by our answer to the sickle cell problem within Sierra Leone. Therefore there must be several stakeholders who are able to benefit from our product. One of these groups is the Ministry of Health in Sierra Leone. If they were able to collect reliable data about sickle cell anemia they could treat it more appropriately. They could also profit off the possible treatment cost and the costs of our product. Similarly, Lehigh would also have much to benefit from our project being successful. They would most be able to receive recognition for the success of one of their own projects. They could boast about their program and its success and also receive money due to the project. Moreover, nurses in charge and the community health workers would be able to administer reliable meaningful diagnostic tests to their patients, creating a more medically informed community. This new test would also encourage people to see their local health official leading to a society which is more informed about their own health and how they should live their lives. This also benefits the people of Sierra Leone who would be able to know if their future child would have the disease. They could also live a healthier life knowing if they had the traits in the traits in their genomes. In summary, for a project to have purpose and a need is for their to be people who can benefit from the project.

Making sure our project has enough credibility and that our product is valid is essential, or else people would not use it. Therefore, our team must work to make sure our product is consistent, reliable, and has valid scientific evidence. In order to make our product consistent,  we would need to find the best nitrocellulose membrane, glass pad, absorbance pad and backing for our product. Each one of these materials needs to be tested rigorously to ensure that it will work at a high percentage rate. Some materials may be made better than others and we should look for the materials that have shown the best results over our use and the use of others in order to determine which materials will be consistent enough for our product. Without this, we would run the risk of our product failing while people are trying to get important results, making people lose faith that our product is consistent. Furthermore, it is essential that we also have reliable results. To insure this we must run optimization tests in order to determine the optimal amount of hemoglobin, buffers and beads to use for our product. Without running optimization tests we run the risk of having incorrect (or nonexistent) results. Moreover, we should continue to look into the many ways people have created test strips in the past and look into the practicality of using other methods and or materials to ensure that we have the most reliable results. If we were to create a product which was incorrectly diagnosing people (or not diagnosing people with sickle cell) we would lose all credibility due to the fact that nobody would be sure the result they got was correct or not. Finally, we have to be sure we understand the science behind our product or else nobody would have any faith in it. When we create a working test strip we will need to run tests to make sure we are seeing the results we expected or if we are witnessing some other binding that happens to give us results. If we were to create a product without a thorough understanding of what is happening we would have no ability to validate our own product. We need to know exactly what is happening and why or else nobody would feel confident enough to use our strips. Overall, people need to feel safe and confident in our product before they will use it. In order to do this we will need to prove the reliability, consistency, and the science behind our product. We will do this through many tests of materials and concentrations which will allow us to determine which combination of concentrations and materials will make our product the most consistent and reliable.

-Jaro Perera

GSIF Blog Post #2

The major cultural issues that we may encounter while trying to integrate our product into Sierra Leone may be more difficult to deal with than we ever expected. Although we do not know what issues will arise while in Sierra Leone, we can speculate what some of the possible issues may be before hand. One of these issues is the healthcare system within Sierra Leone. Their healthcare system is very different to the one many of us are accustomed to which could lead to issues concerning who will administer the test, along with where, and when they will be available to people. Another issue may be the possible lack of concern or knowledge about sickle cell. People may be less concerned about the disease than we are due to the fact that it is very prevalent throughout their society. One final cultural issue we may encounter is

In my personal experience, I have seen people reject very common practices due to their culture and the way they live. One example of this when someone I know fell off her horse and broke her arm. She decided not to go to the hospital because she was raised in a family where you don’t go to the hospital, you take care of issues on your own. Another similar example is when my grandfather consistently rejects the services of professionals and attempts to take on major projects by himself (Ex. cutting down a 70 ft tree or installing the plumbing system for his house). Furthermore, I have personally seen many people throughout Vermont reject food due to the fact that it was not locally grown, they are against anything that is not local and will choose not to eat food that is not locally grown. Many people have moral issues with the ways food is produced on a large scale which is why they will refuse to eat anything which they do not know how it was grown.

Since many people throughout Sierra Leone often are seen by people in the healthcare system, integrating our product into the routine of the health care professionals. Since the majority of people throughout Sierra Leone live in rural areas, the most efficient way to distribute our product would be through the healthcare professionals who are able to reach more of the rural areas. Furthermore, having our product be used by a national source would make it easier for all people in Sierra Leone to access, reaching those in the urban areas as well. Another way we may be able to get people to use our product is by teaching locals about sickle cell, giving them a reason to get tested. Moreover, increasing the overall knowledge of sickle cell could help increase awareness throughout the country, by holding information sessions (or something of that nature), we have the potential to reach many people who may never have had any idea about sickle cell.

Due to the fact that we are dealing with one of the poorest countries in the world, we have to tailor our product to that market. People do not have the same amount of money to spend on medical bills, we have to create a much cheaper option for the people of Sierra Leone. Furthermore, the ability to get medical service is more limited in rural areas of Sierra Leone than it is almost anywhere in the western world, therefore we must develop way for our product to be used on those who may not have easy access to medical services. Similarly, people may be less inclined to get tested due to the difficulty and or financial burden it may take on them.

Unfortunately, there is a much higher percentage of people who have sickle cell in Sierra Leone than there is in America. Although these people have a health issue that can make their lives very difficult, it does present us an opportunity to create a low cost diagnostic which would not be as needed and or accepted within America. This opportunity would not be as useful in the United States due to the many tests which are already available. Furthermore, the fact that Sierra Leone is very poor also gives us a chance to create a product which could spread to other countries which have a similar need for a low cost diagnostic.

– Jaro Perera