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Due to the ongoing COVID-19 situation, University-sponsored faculty-led study abroad programs are on hold. We look forward to the return of a robust travel program schedule at WNE.

Courses Offered

ILP 238: Global Health & Technology 3 cr.

Earn an ILP and have an adventure you’ll never forget! Travel to one of the most beautiful countries in the world! Make an impact on global health!

This exciting course will be offered during the Spring 2019 semester. The course provides a multidisciplinary study at the intersection between global health issues and the technologies that are being developed to solve them.

Major questions that will be addressed include:

  • What are the major health problems facing the world today?
  • How do the economics of healthcare work?
  • How can we use technology to solve global health issues?

The class will meet for two lecture hours per week during the spring semester and  spend 11 days in Guatemala. During the class, we will discuss global health issues and how medical technologies can be developed to solve them. We will then travel to Guatemala, where we will study the local healthcare system and investigate new technologies that can help improve medical care.

Guatemala is one of the most beautiful countries in our world; home to volcanoes, famous archeological ruins, the Pacific and the Caribbean. A major part of the course will include “hands-on” learning. Our Guatemalan hosts have led development programs for over 30 years, including water supply projects, reforestation, schools and a health clinic. Read the blog about this year's trip!

Students must apply to this course and cannot register directly. Email Dr. Michael Rust at mrust@wne.edu or 413-782-1491 or Dr. Steve Northrup at snorthru@wne.edu or 413-782-1620 for more information and to receive an application form. Space is limited, so apply today!

Start Packing: Here’s What You Need To Know

How much will this trip cost?

Estimated costs are currently being determined.

What will I see in Guatemala?

You will have the opportunity to visit ancient Mayan ruins, local markets, and natural hot springs.

One of the towns where we will stay, San Lucas Tolimán, is located on the southern coast of a lake called Atitlán, in the western highlands of Guatemala. Lake Atitlán  is 5,000 feet above sea level--approximately a mile--and roughly the same elevation as Denver, CO. The name Tolimán comes from the large volcano just to the west of San Lucas, which is one of three that tower over the southern coast of the beautiful lake.

What if I get sick?

Our sponsor runs a hospital and Guatemala has adequate health care for our travel needs. For vaccines, please check with your health care provider.

Our bodies are not used to the microorganisms that are found in many parts of the world, including Central America. Avoid raw vegetables that you cannot peel or wash yourselves. Food cooked at the Parróquia and other places where we will eat should be OK. Drink ONLY bottled water.

What is the exchange rate?

The Guatemalan currency, the Quetzal, is among the most stable currency in Central America. You should expect a rate of exchange between 7.50 and 8.00 per US Dollar. The US Dollar goes far in Guatemala. You can purchase presents such as original art, colorful textiles, some clothes and jewelry.

Meet your professors

Dr. Michael Rust, Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering, received his PhD from the University of Cincinnati where he did research on biomedical applications of nanotechnology. Prior to his graduate studies, he worked in the medical device industry for Ethicon Endo-Surgery and AtriCure. He teaches courses in bioinstrumentation, circuit analysis, biosensors, and lab-on-a-chip. He serves as the faculty advisor for the Engineering World Health (EWH) Club at Western New England University, and he is a member of the Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES). His research involves the development of point-of-care medical technologies, including inexpensive bioinstrumentation for use in low resource settings. He was the co-leader of previous trips to Guatemala in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015.

Dr. Steve Northrup, Professor of Electrical Engineering, received an MS and a PhD in Electrical Engineering from Vanderbilt University where he did research on humanoid robots and rehabilitation robotics to assist people who cannot feed themselves. He received a BS in Electrical Engineering from the University of Michigan. He teaches introductory courses in circuit theory and electronics; interdisciplinary courses involving design and project management; control theory courses; and project courses in robotics, signal processing, and speech recognition. His research involves improving individual and team performance in interdisciplinary teams. He is the faculty liaison to the Western New England University swim team and the faculty advisor for Western New England University student chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers. His is a member of the American Society of Engineering Education and the Society of Automotive Engineers. Prior to graduate school, he designed automotive electronics and assembly line testing equipment for Ford Motor Company. He was the co-leader for five previous trips to Guatemala, including 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015.

How can I participate?

Students must be in good academic standing to participate in study abroad opportunities. Students participating in year-long or semester-long study abroad programs must satisfy the specific grade point average required by the foreign university they will be attending.

This trip is open to students from any undergraduate major who has an interest in global health, including students from the Colleges of Arts and Sciences (including undergraduate Pharmacy students), Business, or Engineering. Students from all grade levels are welcome.


How is the trip chaperoned?
Western New England University faculty members, Drs. Mike Rust (Biomedical Engineering) and Steve Northrup (Electrical Engineering), accompany students on the trip.

Can I get a refund if I get sick, change my mind or have some other emergency?
Western New England University contracts with vendors who require non-refundable deposits. As we get closer to departure time, the entire cost will be nonrefundable. As such we can only offer a partial refund, if any, depending on when you cancel.

How much spending money will I need?
Typically, $300 will cover souvenirs and other personal miscellaneous expenses including entertainment.

Can I get financial aid?
You need to discuss this with your financial aid officer. Since costs are billed as tuition, some or all may be covered by your financial aid package.

Where can I obtain a passport?
US passport services. Allow 6-8 weeks.

What if I get sick when I’m away?
Full-time students are covered under the University’s health plan and are insured for medical expenses when abroad. If you are not insured, we can provide additional information.

Want to Learn More?

For more information, contact:

Dr. Josie Brown, Interim Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and Assistant Director of the Study Abroad Program
Phone: 413-782-1444
Email: jbrown@wne.edu


Got Your Passport? Don’t forget to apply now for your passport to be ready to take advantage of these unique educational/travel opportunities.