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Open to non-NU students.
Location: Cape Town, South Africa
University of Cape Town
Term: Winter Quarter (2014 Program dates: January 6-March 23)
Application Deadline: June 1, 2014 for Winter 2015
Language Requirement: None - all classes are taught in English
Academic Interests: Biomedical Engineering, Global Health


Designed exclusively for engineering students, the Northwestern IPD Global Healthcare Technologies program offers hands-on experience in developing medical devices to improve health outcomes in resource-poor environments, particularly townships of Cape Town. While learning about healthcare needs specific to developing countries, students work closely with University of Cape Town (UCT) faculty and local health professionals. The emphasis is on problem definition, user-centered solutions and the utilization of appropriate technologies. The program is organized in conjunction with McCormick’s Center for Innovative Global Health Technologies (CIGHT).


The University of Cape Town (UCT) is the oldest university in South Africa and the second oldest on the African continent. Since 2003 UCT has maintained its position as the highest ranked South African and African university in the Academic Ranking of World Universities. It is a research-intensive institution known for its support of collaborative, interdisciplinary research. The university enrolls over 17,000 undergraduates and 7,500 graduate students, and roughly 18 percent of its student population is international, representing over 100 countries.


Program courses take place at the University of Cape Town.  This is a Northwestern program with a set curriculum, so students must enroll in the courses listed below.
All courses are taught by Mladen Poluta, Matthew Glucksberg, and David Kelso.

BME 388-SA: Healthcare in Resource Poor Environments (1 credit)
This course introduces the healthcare needs of developing countries and provides a basic introduction to medical and clinical terminology and problems. Site visits to hospital departments and community institutions are an integral part of the course.

BME 389-SA: Healthcare Technology Assessment and Planning (1 credit)
Students learn methods of macro- and micro-assessment and are introduced to concepts of cost-analysis as it relates to health status and health outcomes. The impact of technology life-cycles, innovation and application cycles, and approaches to technology transfer, strategic planning, healthcare technology policy, procurement process, standardization, and information resources will be examined in the context of a resource poor environment.

BME 391-SA: Healthcare Technology Innovation and Design (1 credit)
This team-oriented, project-based course will provide students with an introduction to the fundamentals of biomedical engineering design. Students will work closely with faculty and health professionals with an emphasis on problem definition, user-centered solutions and the use of appropriate technologies.

GBL HLTH 314-SA: Health and Community Development in South Africa (1 credit)
This course explores health-related issues confronting South Africa, their social and economic impact, and efforts to address them, particularly within the context of apartheid and post transition policies. Students will learn about demographics, prevention, and treatment of both infectious and chronic noncommunicable diseases.


Table Mountain National Park
Students will hike sections of Table Mountain National Park during the first weekend of the program. This excursion not only introduces students to the geography of the Cape Peninsula, but it is also a great way for students to get to know each other.

KwaZulu Natal Rural Hospital Visit & Safari
Led by Rob Dickinson, a clinical engineering consultant, and Lori Kelly of Zulu Sun Safaris, this five-day excursion includes visits to hospitals in the rural areas of KwaZulu Natal as well as a taste of African wildlife.

Cape Peninsula Tour
This day-trip to Cape Point – the southern tip of the Cape Peninsula – includes visits to the quaint fishing villages of Hout Bay and Kalk Bay, the naval village of Simon’s Town with its interesting maritime history, stunning panoramic views of Chapman’s peak, and penguins at Boulder’s Beach.


Students on this program will share a house in Observatory, a trendy suburb within walking distance of UCT. Students will stay in double or triple rooms with a shared bathroom and have access to a fully equipped kitchen, dining room, and multiple lounges. Students are responsible for the cost of meals.


Review the following cost information sheets for a breakdown of and information about program costs:
Global Healthcare Technologies Budget Sheet (Winter 2015)

Students applying to this program are eligible for IPD Study Abroad Fellowships and may be eligible for external funding opportunities. Students participating in this program are subject to Withdrawal Policies for Northwestern-Sponsored Programs.

For more information about billing, finances, and financial aid for study abroad, please refer to the Money Matters resource page of the Study Abroad Office website or contact Krista Buda Bethel in the Financial Aid Office.