By Ashley T., SolarSPELL Intern

My name is Ashley, and I am a Junior majoring in Biomedical Engineering in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University. This is my fourth semester working with SolarSPELL.

I got involved with SolarSPELL through the School for the Future of Innovation in Society Undergraduate Research Fellows (SURF) program in Spring 2020. As a freshman, I wanted to expand my knowledge of biomedical equipment and I knew that working on a library filled with manuals about them–SolarSPELL’s Biomedical Technology (BMET) library–would be the perfect opportunity to learn. Additionally, I wanted to contribute to a project that directly affects clinics and hospitals in the developing world.  

Most of my time with SolarSPELL has been spent on the BMET library project, whether it be by curating content by contacting medical device manufacturers, metadata tagging resources for improved user experience, or organizing a webinar with in-field users. This past summer 2021, I had the opportunity to switch gears a bit and work on the development of the Offline Training Course (OTC) for the Nursing and Midwifery library.  

It was a blast working alongside the other Course Developer Fellows, Priya and Grace. We collaborated throughout the whole process. We started by doing research to understand our users–nursing educators in East Africa–and developing a robust in-person training agenda and presentation. Next, we outlined the tracks and corresponding content for the OTC using the in-person materials as a base. From there came the fun part: writing scripts and recording videos to help our users understand how to effectively use the SolarSPELL library. After several edits, revisions, and recordings, the videos and other required OTC content were completed. It excites me knowing that my work will be seen by SolarSPELL library users in East Africa and others around the world.

With this experience under my belt, I led the development of the OTC for the BMET library this fall. Thanks to my teammate Xingchen, plus support from Project Manager, Stephanie, and other SolarSPELL staff, I am happy to say that the BMET OTC is currently undergoing external testing. It has been great being able to use my multiple semesters of background working on the BMET library to help push this project forward. While SolarSPELL’s in-field Train-the-Trainer training is optimal for teaching library users how to best use the SolarSPELLs to complement their work, it is equally important to have a fully digital, yet offline, training course. It enables library users to review how to use, navigate, and teach others about the library, and allows SolarSPELL to offer training from half-a-world away, even while travel is not possible. 

By working on the BMET library and other projects, SolarSPELL has helped me attain multidisciplinary skills such as project management, improved communication, and collaboration. Additionally, it made me more appreciative of my privilege and the resources readily available to me via the internet and I am honored to be a part of a project that expands the right to information to others around the world. Knowing that what I do with SolarSPELL is life-saving work has impacted me the most, and in the future, I hope I have the opportunity to go to the field and work first-hand with our library users.