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The Design for Global Health Program provides students with an opportunity to address global health challenges through clinical immersion and design coursework. Since 2008, ~100 students from the University of Michigan have performed design ethnography at hospitals in Michigan, Ghana, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nicaragua, and China to identify and prioritize healthcare challenges that can be partially addressed through engineering design. The clinical immersion component of this program is remotely mentored by Global Health Design Initiative faculty and staff so student teams MUST exercise independence in travel. When students return to campus for the Fall semester, they develop and test solution concepts as part of a capstone design experience using knowledge gained during their clinical immersion work. Students have the option of continuing their projects through a second semester of design and/or completing the specialized study in global health design.

Past themes: maternal health, physical medicine & rehabilitation, water access, minimally invasive surgery, oncological surgery, cardiovascular surgery, and clinical operations & workflow.

Clinical Immersion Field Sites

Selected students will be placed into cohorts. Each cohort will spend their clinical immersion and design ethnography experience at a different clinical setting in either Michigan, Ghana, Ethiopia, or Kenya. Students will have the opportunity to list their field site preference in their application.

Confirmed 2018 field sites:


St. Paul’s Hospital – Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

More 2018 field sites to be confirmed soon!

The 2017 field sites were:

Maternal Health

Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital – Kumasi, Ghana

Korele Bu Teaching Hospital – Accra, Ghana

Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation

Consolata and Meru Level 5 Hospitals – Meru, Kenya

Clinical Operations and Workflow

Hamilton Community Health Network – Flint, MI


donateThis program is open to University of Michigan students from all departments who will have senior standing in Fall 2018.  This is a highly selective application process. There is no foreign language requirement for this program. The Global Health Design Initiative strives to create multidisciplinary teams. Students of all disciplines are encouraged to apply.

The clinical immersion component of this program is highly independent with guidance from the Global Health Design Initiative staff and faculty being delivered remotely.  Applicants must demonstrate an ability to exercise initiative, independence, and good judgement.

The Design for Global Health Academic Program components include:

  1. Pre-immersion coursework and training
  2. ~8-week clinical immersion and design ethnography experience in Ghana, Kenya, or Ethiopia
  3. At least 1 semester of course based design work


This co-creative design program with UM and project stakeholders has three components. Please read the following information carefully to best understand program requirements.

  1. Pre-immersion Training and Coursework (Winter 2018)
    • Enrollment in or independent completion of all coursework for ME499: Front-End Design (3 credits)
      • Beginning W17 , this requirement can also be fulfilled through completion of a curated set of the Center for Socially Engaged Design Academy (SEDA) learning blocks
        • http://insitu.engin.umich.edu/socially-engaged-design-academy/
    • Completion of guided self-study to gain clinical literacy in a medical specialty of the project theme (e.g. obstetrics and gynecology, physical medicine and rehabilitation)
    • Attendance at and preparation for pre-immersion cultural context and logistical meetings (1-2 hours/week) 
  2. Clinical Immersion and Design Ethnography Experience (Spring/Summer 2018)
    • ~ 8-week experience at a clinical field site
    • The objective of the clinical immersion experience is to provide students with an opportunity to:
      • Develop and apply design ethnography skills
      • Observe and interview healthcare providers
      • Establish intercultural and interdisciplinary communication skills
      • Develop clinical literacy on a particular health care topic
      • Co-identify unmet needs and formulate need statements
      • Gain an understanding of the local and broader contexts of design
      • Generate preliminary user requirements and engineering specifications for a selected design project topic
    • Students may earn up to 5 graded credits of ENGR355 for the pre-immersion and immersion program components. Up to two credits can be awarded for pre-immersion work during W18 semester and up to three credits can be awarded for deliverables from immersion experience during F18 semester.
  3. Design Coursework (Fall 2018)
    • Enrollment in and completion of one of the following design courses or a suitable alternate course in Fall 2017.  Please see below for morimg_2538e information.
      • ME450: Capstone Design and Manufacturing (4 credits; cross-listed as ENGR450).
      • ME455: Analytical Product Design (3-4 credits; co-listed as Desci501).
      • BME 450: Senior Capstone Design (4 credits)
    • Students may optionally enroll in additional design coursework and conduct field site validation and redesign in Winter 2019.


This experience can count as part of the Multidisciplinary Design Minor, Specialization in Global Health Design.  However, participating students are not required to enroll in the minor.

Note: ME450/ENGR450 can be taken as an engineering technical elective.  The course is pre-approved Mechanical engineering students as their senior design course (Major Design Experience); Biomedical engineering students may substitute ME450/ENGR450 for their senior biomedical design course with approval from their academic advisor.

Non-engineering students are eligible to enroll in ME450/ENGR450 or may choose to substitute a suitable alternate independent study course. Approval of this course is mandatory by both GHDI and a faculty member from the student’s department before acceptance into the program is finalized.

Students who do not plan to take ME450/ENGR450 will be asked to list their proposed alternate course in their application.



Students will be responsible for arranging their own accommodations. Hostel/guesthouse, student dormitory, and/or homestay options can be recommended based on prior student experiences.


All selected students are eligible to receive up to a $3500 USD stipend to offset clinical immersion program costs.  This stipend will be first applied to the clinical elective training fees and may also be used for other travel expenses (i.e. GeoBlue Traveler’s insurance required for UM-related travel, airfare, accommodations and transportation, food, health-related travel costs, project materials).  Past clinical immersion experiences have ranged between $2750-4500 USD.

Students are strongly encouraged to apply for additional outside funding sources to offset international travel and living costs.  Students will be required to disclose all funding sources used to support the program.

Dates and Deadlines

Program Duration: The Design for Global Health Program spans at least one full year beginning in January 2018.  The summer fieldwork experiences is ~8 weeks long and will be completed between May and August 2018.

Priority Deadline: December 3, 2017 at 11:59PM
Priority Deadline Decision: December 31, 2017 at 11:59PM

Interviews for priority admission will begin immediately following the priority deadline. Applications received after the priority deadline will be considered on a rolling basis. It is highly recommended that students submit their applications prior to the priority deadline. Accepted students will have 10 days to confirm their space.

Please direct advising inquiries and program-specific questions to Caroline Soyars at globalhealthdesign@umich.edu

Interested in this Opportunity?

Applications for the Design for Global Health Academic Program are accepted online through MCompass. Follow this link to login and apply.

Apply for this opportunity

What to Know About The Global Health Design Initiative

Program History

Program History

GHDI has been working with stakeholders for more than eight years to identify and address global health design challenges. Learn more about our history and core values.

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Project Outcomes

Project Outcomes

Since inception, we have worked on projects in maternal health, family planning, minimally invasive surgery, physical medicine and rehabilitation, and more. Explore our past and current projects.

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Get Involved

Get Involved

There are many ways to get involved in global health work with GHDI. From taking on a need statement, to participating in an opportunity, or becoming a partner.

Learn More →