Organizations & Activities

Global Biomedical Service Program (GBS)

Engineers Without Borders (EWB)

International Opportunities

Engineering Service Learning

Real Outreach Experiences:

Chrysta Irolla (Alumna, Class of 2008), Northwestern, Master’s in Engineering Design and Innovation, 2009

I went to China with Penn's Global Biomedical Service Program and came back with new goals and ideas.  Not only did I discover a passion for prosthetics and orthotics, but I researched and invented a device for below-the-knee amputees, for which I won a PennVention prize and financial support.  My Engineering Entrepreneurship class helped me create a business plan too, and by the time I left for graduate school at Northwestern, I had Penn money to apply for a patent and to further develop the SmartSock.

Chrysta is currently a Master’s student in prosthetics and orthotics at Georgia Tech, class of 2011.

From Penn to Asia, Africa, and Central America, BE Students Go Global

Global Biomedical Service Program

GBSThe Global Biomedical Service (GBS) program seeks to provide students with the opportunity to have hands-on technical and cultural experience abroad. The program consists of a nine-week preparatory course and a 16-day trip to Huiyang, China, where students make orthotics for children with neuromusculoskeletal disorders. Cooperating with Hong Kong Polytechnic University, GBS gives students the chance to apply technical skills to make a real difference in patients' lives. The team, which usually includes Bioengineering Department faculty and staff, partners with Hong Kong students in the class and clinic.

The experience inspires many participants, and in the case of some students, it can spawn new ideas to improve patient care. For Chrysta Irolla (see right), GBS was the beginning of a research and entrepreneurial career in prosthetic devices for amputees supported by Penn's Weiss Tech House, as well as start-up research venture opportunities.

Engineers Without Borders

EWBPenn Engineers Without Borders (EWB) is a nonprofit humanitarian organization that partners with communities around the world to improve their quality of life through sustainable projects.  Students work to enable sustainable development through local awareness and global implementation. PennEWB's foreign involvement is a mutually beneficial process. Partner communities are provided with needed assistance to improve quality of life and plan for the future. Students are exposed to new cultures, obtain experience planning and implementing an engineering project, and are made aware of outstanding engineering challenges in developing communities.

Penn EWB projects around the world have included: spring water distribution in the villages of Gundom and Kob, Cameroon; arsenic remediation in Bengal, India; water and sanitation systems in Terreritos, Honduras; and closer to home, a biodiesel processor at Saul Agricultural High School, which includes partnering with a Philadelphia restaurant for waste vegetable oil.