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Spotlight on Current Rice Students in Costa Rica

Nicki Chamberlain-Simon (Lovett ’16) will work with the Applied Ergonomics Laboratory. at the Instituto Tecnológico de Costa Rica in Cartago, Costa Rica for 9 months. She will be investigating a 3D printed prosthetic design in order to reduce the cost of assistive care.

  1. Why did you choose to work/research in Costa Rica?

nicki_chamberlain-simon-2-156x175I chose to research in Costa Rica because it has the perfect lab for me. I knew that after my senior year I wanted to work on low-cost prosthetics research in a Spanish-speaking country. My goal is to speed up processing times and reduce costs in the orthotics & prosthetics industry using smarter fabrication methods. Since 3D printing is both a newly attractive option for prosthetics and something I worked on quite a bit in my Senior Design project, I was also hoping that 3D printing would be involved in my research.

In my search, I contacted Dr. Eric Richardson, a Rice bioengineering professor who organizes the Global Medical Innovation Masters program in Costa Rica. He knew of a lab associated with Tecnológico de Costa Rica (TEC) that was working on a 3D printed design for a transtibial prosthesis, meaning a below-the-knee prosthetic leg. Costa Rica is a great place for this kind of work because they have a strong med-tech industry that still maintains a strong focus on affordable care.

The fact that Costa Rica is one of the most beautiful, biodiverse, and friendly countries in the world was just a very fortunate coincidence.

    2. What’s your favorite thing about Rice?

My favorite thing about Rice is its value of diversity, in all senses. One of my favorite descriptions of Rice is: “the only people that aren’t accepted here are those that don’t accept others.” I had never been exposed to so many different types of people willing to learn about each other. These differences include anything from race or religion to social habits or outlooks on life, and the disparity is huge. This environment played a big part in my desire to live abroad post-graduation—I want to continue this search for people who have widely different experiences from my own. 

To learn about Nicki’s experience in Costa Rica, please check out her blog.