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A World of Education: Healthcare Without Borders

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Experiential Learning and Globalization in BME

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Page Count


Page Numbers

22.124.1 - 22.124.7



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Paper Authors


Megan Ida O'Connor Milwaukee School of Engineering

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Megan O’Connor is currently a Biomedical Engineering student at the Milwaukee School of Engineering. She looks forward to earning her B.S. degree in biomedical engineering in May of 2011 with a minor in technical communication. As a student, Megan is a member of Alpha Eta Mu Beta (AEMB), BMES, and SWE. In the fall of 2008, O’Connor assisted in the creation of a campus organization called Healthcare Without Borders (HWB), and has since participated as secretary, vp/engineering crew manager, and president. She intends on continuing her education in graduate school with a bioengineering focus on artificial organs.

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Linda Young MSOE School of Nursing

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Faculty Advisor for Health Care Workers Without Borders since its inception. Nursing Professor at MSOE School of Nursing. Ph.D. from University of Wisconsin, Madison in nursing and family.

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John D. Gassert Milwaukee School of Engineering

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John D. Gassert, Ph.D., P.E. John D. Gassert is currently a Professor of Biomedical Engineering at the Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE) and an Adjunct Professor of Biophysics at the Medical College of Wisconsin. Gassert is a Registered Professional Engineer in the State of Wisconsin. He is currently the Chair of the Accreditation Activities Committee for BMES. He earned his Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from Marquette University in 1995. He earned his M.S. degree and B.E. degree in Electrical Engineering in 1974 and 1971 respectively, both from Marquette University. Gassert is an AIMBE Fellow, a Senior Member of the IEEE, and a member in BMES and Sigma Xi. He is an ABET EAC program evaluator for Biomedical Engineering. He has developed and taught courses at both the graduate and undergraduate level in Biomedical Engineering, Medical Informatics, Perfusion, Electrical Engineering, Computer Engineering, and Electrical Engineering Technology. Prior to arriving at MSOE, Gassert spent seventeen years in industry in positions as a design engineer, a clinical engineer and a consultant. As part of his 17 years in industry, he owned his own engineering design and consulting company for eight years. He continues to operate his consulting and design business on a part-time basis.

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A World of Education: Healthcare Without BordersAbstractHealthcare Without Borders (HWB) is a service organization visualized and mobilized bystudents of Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE) aiming to help underserved andunderdeveloped areas of the world by providing health care related materials and expertise.Moreover, the club was introduced to provide members with opportunities to travel todeveloping countries and share their abilities in creating healthier communities on a global scale.As a team, members have created an environment where students can put their skills to use andchallenge themselves to try new things, experience different cultures, and develop a new worldview. With the experiences provided by HWB, students have the opportunity to look farther than“beyond that classroom” and discover ways they can contribute to global welfare by applyingtheir education to real world needs. HWB promotes goodwill and understanding between allareas of the world, and provides an equal opportunity to all those interested in making adifference in worldwide health care.In 2008, a small gathering of freshmen and sophomore biomedical engineers teamed together tostart a new organization combining the service principles of Engineers Without Borders (EWB)and the motivation to provide such opportunities for healthcare majors. Under the new title ofHealthcare Without Borders, they underwent many trials and tribulations searching for studentrepresentatives, university support, and funding opportunities. Biomedical engineering professorDr. John Gassert and nursing professor Dr. Linda Young brought forth the first support andnetworking opportunities that allowed HWB to complete initial travel opportunities and projectfoundations. In February of 2009, students traveled to El Salvador to complete their firsthospital and clinic assessment. Based upon the information gathered, the engineering crewreturned in November of 2009 to remodel a clinic in preparation for a nursing student-led healthservice trip this upcoming November. Since the organization’s birth, the scope has expanded toinclude Nicaragua, Africa, and even right at home in Milwaukee. Students are finding that thereare abundant opportunities all around the world and at home where they can create a better worldboth for themselves and others.Math, science and critical thinking are all clearly vital aspects in the development of an“engineering” mind, but it takes much more to become a true erudite professional. One of themost important aspects to the learning experiences of HWB is that it brings students out of therealm of factual, impersonal engineering, and into the most crucial human experiences. Nomatter what aspect of engineering a student decides to follow in his/her education,communication and a clear understanding of the people within the scope of a project areinfinitely more important than even the most creative engineering endeavors themselves. In theend, a project with no applicable audience is unprofitable and goes unused. All in all, HWBprovides a unique opportunity for students to build skills, relationships, and connections in amanner that enhances an education indefinitely.

O'Connor, M. I., & Young, L., & Gassert, J. D. (2011, June), A World of Education: Healthcare Without Borders Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--17406

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