Applications for 2022 program are now closed.


The Global Health Design Academic Program is sponsored by the University of Michigan Global Health Design Initiative and provides students with an opportunity to address global health challenges through clinical immersion and design coursework. To date, more than 150 UM undergraduate students have performed front-end design work using design ethnography methodology at hospitals in Michigan, Ghana, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, and China since 2008. In 2022, due to the pandemic, we will be offering domestic field site opportunities.

Program Description

The program consists of pre-immersion training in the Winter 2022 term, a 6-8 week clinical immersion experience at Michigan Medicine (e.g., ophthalmology thematic cohort at W.K. Kellogg Eye Center) and design coursework in the Fall 2022 term. During the Winter 2022 term, students study front-end design processes, complete thematic clinical readings, and learn about contextually relevant topics to prepare for their clinical immersion experience. Students then complete a 6-8 week clinical immersion in Ann Arbor over the summer where they gain practical hands-on experience identifying, defining, and/or assessing early-stage concept solutions for engineering design problems through direct interactions with healthcare providers and other stakeholders. Then, in the fall semester, they enroll in design coursework (e.g., capstone design course) to develop and test concept solutions using the knowledge gained from their clinical immersion. Students may also have the opportunity to earn credit hours towards the Multidisciplinary Design Minor with Global Health Design Specialization or the Specialized Study Program in Global Health Design.



  • Minimum 2.85 GPA
  • Current U-M Ann Arbor students in good academic standing
  • Undergraduate students only
  • Must be a eligible to register for ME450 in Fall 2022*
  • Must demonstrate an ability to exercise initiative, independence, and good judgement**

*ME450 requires senior class standing but is not restricted to mechanical engineers. GHDI strives to create multidisciplinary teams therefore students from all disciplines and departments are encouraged to apply. Past participants have come from a wide range of academic disciplines, including engineering, nursing, anthropology, and many others.
**The clinical immersion component of this program is highly independent compared to many other education programs.

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

Winter Term

Pre-immersion Training and Coursework (Ann Arbor)

  • Completion of front-end design training is required during Winter 2022. Participants can either enroll in MECHENG 457 – Front-End Design (3 credits) or a non-credit bearing guided self-study (e.g., online modules or independent readings/assignments)
    • Option 1: Enroll in W22 MECHENG 457:
      • If you have room in your W22 schedule, we encourage you to register for MECHENG 457. Lectures will be held on Mondays and Wednesdays from 12- 1:30PM in 1311 EECS. Course registration requires permission of the instructor: please send a brief note to Dr. Shanna Daly (srdaly@umich.edu) describing why you would like to be in the course. In this message, please state that you are applying for the GHDI Academic Program as the reason for why you would like to be in the course.
    • Option 2: If students are unable to enroll in MECHENG 457, students may complete this requirement through a non-credit bearing guided self-study (e.g., online modules or independent readings/assignments).
  • Completion of guided self-study of a medical specialty related to the project theme (e.g., obstetrics and gynecology, emergency medicine)
  • Attendance at and preparation for pre-immersion meetings about contextually relevant topics and logistics (1-2 hours/week)
    • Note: If participants join a cohort after pre-immersion meetings have commenced, they may be asked to complete make-up assignments and/or attend additional meetings with GHDI instructional staff to discuss previously covered meeting topics.

Spring-Summer Term

Clinical Immersion and Design Ethnography Experience (Field Site)

  • 6-8 week experience at Michigan Medicine in Ann Arbor between May-June
  • During the clinical immersion experience, participants will:
    • 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
    • Gain an understanding of the local and broader contexts of design
    • Define a problem and generate and/or refine user requirements and engineering specifications
    • Develop early-stage concept solutions
  • The scope of the front-end design work completed at the field site will vary by location and clinical theme, but all participants will utilize various design ethnography techniques such as formulating need statements, conducting observations and interviews, developing user requirements and engineering specifications, and performing a context assessment. General descriptions of the three most common types of projects are provided below:
    • Needs Finding (Duration: 6-8 weeks): Students perform design ethnography studies including observations, interviews, and focus groups in order to identify and define unmet clinical needs. Once identified, needs are prioritized and one or more needs are studied in depth through focused observations and interviews, benchmarking, literature review, and early-stage prototyping with the goal of defining user requirements and engineering specifications and developing preliminary concept solutions. Typically, this work is performed at a new or relatively new field site and is highly exploratory in nature.
    • Deep Dive (Duration: 4-8 weeks): Students begin their clinical immersion experience by conducting focused observations and interviews, or “deep dives”, in order to further define a select number of previously identified high priority clinical needs. Students utilize these direct interactions with stakeholders along with benchmarking, literature review, early-stage prototyping, and evaluation of relevant prior student concepts to refine and/or build upon existing user requirements and engineering specifications and develop new concept solutions. This type of project work is typically performed at an established field site that has supported previous GHDI student teams.
    • Problem-Solution Co-Evolution (Duration: 4-8 weeks): Students pursue one high priority clinical need that has been defined by previous student teams through clinical immersion and design coursework. During the clinical immersion experience, students simultaneously develop and refine both the definition of the clinical need and concept solutions informed by focused interviews and observations, while continuously iterating their analysis, synthesis, and evaluation processes between the two notional design ‘spaces’ – problem space and solution space (Dorst, Kees and Cross, Nigel (2001)). Students also explore local manufacturing capacity and processes, and other relevant implementation factors in order to inform the development of clinically-viable solutions.
  • 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.
  • Students can earn up to 3 credits of ENGR 355 or 455 for the deliverables from the clinical immersion and design ethnography experience over the summer. This credit is optional and may be distributed across future semesters.
  • Student will work in teams and are expected to treat others respectfully and professionally.

Fall Term

Design Coursework (Ann Arbor)

  • Students will enroll in design coursework to develop and test concept solutions and/or design iterations using the knowledge gained from the clinical immersion experience.
  • Students with senior standing will enroll in one of the following design courses or a suitable alternate course (requires permission from Global Health Design Initiative faculty) in the upcoming Fall term.
    • MECHENG 450/ENGR 450: Design and Manufacturing III (4 credits)
      • MECHENG 450/ENGR 450 lecture, discussion, and recitation sections are typically held on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1-5:30pm on North Campus.
  • Notes about course credits:
    • MECHENG 450/ENGR 450 can be taken as an engineering technical elective.
    • All non-mechanical engineering students enroll in ENGR 450. An override is required to register for ENGR 450.
    • Biomedical engineering students may substitute ENGR 450 for their senior biomedical design course with approval from their academic advisor.
    • Non-engineering students with senior standing are eligible to enroll in ENGR 450 or may choose to substitute a suitable alternate independent study course. Approval of an alternate course is mandatory by both GHDI and a faculty member from the student’s department before acceptance into the program is finalized.
  • Students may optionally enroll in additional design coursework to continue the project in the following Winter term.

Selected students will be placed into cohorts. Each cohort will spend their clinical immersion and design ethnography experience at a specific field site with a designated clinical theme.

Potential summer 2022 field sites and clinical themes include:

Ophthalmology (Needs Finding, Deep Dive)

  • W.K. Kellogg Eye Center, Ann Arbor, MI

The credit earned from this experience can count towards the Multidisciplinary Design Minor with Global Health Design Specialization. Coursework may also count toward the Specialized Study Programs in Global Health Design. However, participating students are not required to enroll in these academic programs.



All selected students will be awarded the Global Health Design Scholarship, a competitive award established by The Papadopoulos Family Foundation, Mike and Phyllis Korybalski, and The Joseph B. And Florence V. Cejka Foundation. Global Health Design Scholars will receive funding to offset local transportation and accommodation for the clinical immersion in Ann Arbor.


Application Deadline: January 31st, 2022 at 11:59PM

Interviews for admission will be conducted on a rolling basis, and applicants are encouraged to apply as soon as possible.

Application Checklist

The following items are required to complete your application.

  • Curriculum Vitae or Resume Upload
  • Contact information for 2 references (no letters required)
  • 2 short responses:
    • Short response 1: Describe how the clinical immersion experience may impact your design of a global health technology. (Please limit your response to 400 words or less.)
    • Short response 2: Describe any skills, perspectives, and/or prior experiences you will bring to the design of health technologies and a multidisciplinary design team. (Please limit your response to 400 words or less.)
  • Unofficial Transcript Upload


Students will be responsible for arranging their own accommodations in Ann Arbor.

Contact Information

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

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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 →