Student Feature – Madalyn Kern

Madalyn KernMadalyn Kern

PhD Mechanical Engineering, Design

Expected EDC Certificate Completion: Fall 2015

Undergraduate: University of Colorado Boulder

What are your hobbies outside of academic life?

Outdoor activities: rock climbing, mountain biking, hiking, backpacking, skiing
Music: play the piano and guitar, listening to live music at small venues (i.e. coffee shops)
Cooking: love to try new foods
Sports: tennis, softball, volleyball, golf, ultimate frisbee

How did you become interested in global development?

I have done a few mission trips with church groups growing up and have always enjoyed serving others in that way. I have been to Juarez, Mexico twice to build homes for families with out them. And I have been to Belmopan, Belize to build a new orphanage for children who were living in one that had become overcrowded. When I saw the Engineering for Developing Communities certificate program it peaked my interest and I really enjoyed learning about development on a global scale.

Why did you join the EDC program?

I wanted to find a way that I could use my mechanical engineering skills and background in medical devices to serve others more directly. When I read about the EDC program, I thought that it would be a great way to merge my interests of mechanical engineering, medical devices, building personal relationships and serving others.

What has been the most valuable thing you’ve learned from the EDC program?

The most valuable thing I have learned from the EDC program is that development work is no perfect science. There are many different solutions to one problem and even the same problem may require different solutions in different places. Also, it may be one of the only fields where true success is getting yourself out of a job.

Where did you complete your practicum?

I went to Pretoria in South Africa for 3 months this past summer (June-August 2015). I was working on designing lower limb prosthetic sockets for rural areas in South Africa. The socket is the component that directly interfaces with an amputees residual limb and arguably the most critical component of the prosthetic. A socket that does not fit right often results in an abandoned device. Our goal was to design a socket that could be easily manufactured or assembled in a rural area, an area with no pavement, lots of dirt and rocky paths, and likely no or limited electricity.

What do you hope to do after completing your EDC certificate?

I plan to finish my PhD by August 2016 and then I would like to find a company or organization where I can work on designing medical devices for rural areas.

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