"We knew we needed something simple and reliable, not high-tech or terribly sophisticated," Yuan said. "There's nothing digital about it, nothing electrical or fancy."
The team includes chemical engineering major Paige Horton, bioengineering majors Kamal Shah and Thor Walker and mechanical engineering major Taylor Vaughn. Rebecca Hernandez, a senior in bioengineering, serves as the team's apprentice leader representing the Rice Center for Engineering Leadership.
Walker emphasized the old-fashioned engineering of the device: "There's nothing revolutionary about this thing. It was matter of determining the right weight for the steel counterweight, which is 812 grams, and calibrating everything else correctly."
The device can be mounted on a wall or attached with clamps to a portable hospital IV pole. The most time-consuming part of assembling the device was calibrating the counterweight and determining the precise spacing of the notches the counterweight falls into and holds as the fluid drains, she said.
"Then the clamp goes off and it folds the tubing in a V-shape, the way you would crimp a garden hose to make the water stop coming out," Walker said.
This summer Shah and Yuan will transport four of their prototypes to Malawi and Lesotho, respectively, to test them under practical field conditions. Malawi, in southeastern Africa, is among the least-developed countries in the world, with a high infant mortality rate and a life expectancy of about 50 years. Some 1.5 million children in developing countries die annually of dehydration.
|Contact: David Ruth|