Design Portfolio


The M-HEAL Project MESA: Making Exams Safe and Accessible (formerly Maternal Health Team) began after a needs assessment trip to Nicaragua in 2010. The team visited several clinics (mostly private and non-profit), and discovered that many women in rural communities have limited access to gynecological examinations, which likely contributes to Nicaragua having the highest mortality from cervical cancer in Latin America. Many mobile private and public clinics have been established to combat this. However, especially in rural areas, transportation is difficult and can involve hours of bus rides, horseback riding, and walking; thus the clinics are limited in the tools they can carry with them. In this set-up, gynecological exams are typically conducted on a bed, standard kitchen table, or the ground, limiting the effectiveness and comfort of the exam while increasing the duration of each visit (in turn limiting the number of patients seen).

Our team now works with our on-site partners in Nicaragua to design a portable gynecological examination table that fits into a custom-built backpack for easy transportation to rural communities. Our partners range from a large regional hospital to small internationally-funded clinics to government sponsored Public Health Posts. Our main design criteria are that the table is lightweight, affordable, compact, and made from locally-available materials with inexpensive manufacturing techniques. Currently our design utilizes aluminum stock, sheet metal, and PVC piping.

Traditionally our team has been focused on producing a single prototype and bringing it to our partners for evaluation. We have designed and built three prototypes, with our most recent visit to Nicaragua this past May. This year we are designing our fourth iteration and are looking to expand as we refine our design to potentially serve more areas, both within and outside of Nicaragua.

Project Team

  • Kathy Chen IOE
  • Erik Thomas BME
  • Eric Cosky MCDB
  • Eldy Zuniga MSE
  • Liz Abbott-Beaumont PolSci, Spanish, Anthro
  • Andrea Mathew MSE
  • Steven Houtschilt ChE
  • Jamie Landsman MSE
  • Siri Manam BME
  • Keely Meyers BME
  • Christina Khouri Nursing
  • Sabrina Deutsch BCN
  • Hannah Heberle-Rose Engineering
  • Kyle Morrison ME
  • Jennifer Lee BME
  • Monica Patel BME
  • Natalie Baxter Undec.
  • Shreya Wadhwani BME
  • Maddie Price IOE
  • Jen Spiegel BME
  • Molly Munsell BME
  • Bharathi Ramachandran Pub Health
  • Bansili Desai ME
  • Samantha Fox BME
  • Madhu Parigi BME
  • Lillian Lantis BME
  • Gene Bell III Neuroscience
  • Maya Ben-Efraim BME


  • Dr. Frank Anderson | Clinical Advisor Obstetrics & Gynecology PhD.
  • Michael Deininger | Engineering Advisor Design Science PhD. Pre-Candidate