As part of our effort to evaluate our Institute programs, Engineering World Health regularly surveys past participants on a variety of topics, including education, volunteer work, and professional experience. For our 15th Year Census, we received 126 responses. Institute Alumni from every year since the Institutes began in 2004 responded, with 40% of responses from Alumni before 2015, and 60% from 2015 to 2019.
When they first participated in an Institute program, 73% of respondents were undergraduates, while 27% were graduate students or recent grads. Of those who applied to a graduate program after their Institute experience, 76% mentioned that experience during their application process, and 92% of those who mentioned the experience felt it helped their application.
One respondent wrote, “I'm currently in the Global Medical Innovation master's program at Rice University, and my experience with EWH was a key factor in my decision to apply here. I discussed it at length in both my written application and my two interviews.”
Another wrote, “I recently applied for a PhD in HIV epidemic modelling in Southern Africa, and I described my first-hand experience in resource-limited healthcare settings as an asset for building accurate models of these systems and interacting sensitively with collaborators in these settings.”
A third wrote, “My time in Guatemala is a major part of my personal statement for current medical school applications, as it was a major turning point in my life and future career trajectory.”
Since participating in EWH’s Institute programs, a third of participants have taken additional courses focused on engineering in resource-poor settings. Half reported that they had taken additional courses in global and/or public health. Several respondents reported that they were interested in such courses, but none were offered at their universities, or they had already graduated.
Over 80% of respondents have done volunteer work, and 27% have done work related to global health. The list of Alumni’s volunteer experience is truly impressive, including STEM education and outreach; food banks, homeless shelters, and animal shelters; scouting, mentoring, and tutoring; repairing donated medical equipment; refugee assistance and primary care; solar panel installation; health clinic translation services; reforestation; and medical missions, rescue missions, and post-disaster rebuilding missions. Whether in North Carolina, Oregon, or New York; Panama, Ethiopia, Nepal, or Ghana, it’s clear that EWH Institute Alumni continue to do good work for their communities and the world long after their Institute experience has ended.
They don’t plan to stop anytime soon, either: over the next five years, 52% plan to do global health volunteer work, and another 32% plan to do more volunteer work unrelated to global health.
The majority of respondents reported working in positions related to engineering, medical devices, medical practice, and/or global health. Of the respondents who have applied for a job since participating in an EWH Institute, 81% have described their Institute experience in their job applications and/or interviews, and 97% of those felt the experience helped their application.
When asked if they were to look for another job (or for a first job), would they like to find a job that is related to global health, 92% answered “yes” or “maybe.”
Overall, 41% felt their Institute experience influenced their educational choices “quite a bit” or “very much,” while 57% said it influenced their professional choices. 75% felt it influenced the way they think and their life.
The final reflections Alumni chose to share demonstrate the wide range of impacts the EWH Institute programs have on participants, as well as our Alumni’s thoughtfulness and kindness. Choosing just a few responses to share is nearly impossible, as so many of them are so touching. Thank you to everyone who responded to our survey. A few of you wrote:
“EWH gave me a great perspective on privilege because it is the only time I was the only person of my race in a room, and the only time that I was the only person of my religion that a person had ever spoken with.”
“EWH has fundamentally changed the way I look at the world and the way in which I live in it. I now plan to pursue a career geared toward global health and hope to return to Rwanda to have more of an impact.”
“It opened my eyes to the greater global issues surrounding healthcare technology and inspired me to apply my knowledge to help remedy those issues. “
“I work with military organizations that go on missions to medically help populations in developing countries. I am able to apply my knowledge when they look at donating medical supplies and equipment as well as where to buy supplies when partnering with local providers.”
“My EWH experience was definitely life changing. I was at a point in my life where I was searching for the next field I should be working in. I had come from the auto industry and it just wasn't that fulfilling. After my time in Tanzania, I recognized how much of an impact I could have on people’s lives with my engineering skills within the healthcare and device space. I believe it was through this experience I was able to get a job out of grad school at a medical device company, which turns out to be the perfect fit for me.”
“EWH broadened my horizons in many ways that I will never forget. I saw a part of the world that I would likely never have seen otherwise, and as a physician now, seeing medical practice in a developing part of the world will forever influence my perspective on medical care.”
“I am happy for the small impact I was able to make while there, and when I work with medical equipment in daily practice I often think back to dissecting and repairing equipment as an EWH volunteer. Meeting other engineering students from all over the world who shared the same passion was also a life-changing experience. I still keep in touch with several of them and likely will for many years.”
“EWH was one of the most influential experiences I've had the privilege to participate in. I know that working in global health is a passion of mine now, and I learned an appreciation for different cultures, experiences, viewpoints, and people. I also learned quite a bit about engineering, and a focus on long-term reliable and sustainable design has impacted the current work I do.”
“EWH gave me a passion for healthcare. I don't think I would be working for a medical device company with a desire to improve healthcare globally if it wasn't for EWH.”
“Programs like EWH teach something that is almost impossible to learn in any other way: perspective. It teaches you how to survive when thrust entirely out of your comfort zone. It teaches you empathy for those around the world who are combating problems totally foreign to your birthplace, as well as those who are striving to conquer language and cultural barriers in your own backyard. And it teaches you invaluable troubleshooting and hands-on engineering skills that are invaluable to whatever facet of the engineering field you go on to pursue.”
And finally, an individual who identified as a working scientist wrote, “My time in Tanzania with EWH has probably been the single most impactful experience in my life that made me start to think like a citizen of the world.”
Thank you again to everyone who shared their thoughts with us. We deeply appreciate your help, and hope you'll all stay in touch for years to come!