$240 geek design project = $40,000 industry standard results


My senior project — Andrew Miller

A compact microscope invented at Rice University is proving its potential to impact global health.

Rice alumnus Andrew Miller ’09 created a 2.5-pound battery-operated fluorescence microscope as his senior design project last year. The goal was to make an inexpensive, portable and highly capable microscope that could be used in clinics in developing countries that have limited access to lab equipment and lack electricity.

In a paper published online this week in the journal PLoS ONE, Rice alumnus Andrew Miller ’09 and co-authors show that his portable, battery-operated fluorescence microscope, which costs $240, stacks up nicely against devices that retail for as much as $40,000 in diagnosing signs of tuberculosis…

Miller created the 2.5-pound microscope as his senior design project last year. He worked with faculty in Rice 360˚: Institute for Global Health Technologies. The goal was to make an inexpensive, portable and highly capable microscope that could be used in clinics in developing countries that have limited access to lab equipment and lack electricity.

The microscope was built with off-the-shelf parts encased in a rugged plastic shell Miller created with a 3-D printer at Rice’s Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen (OEDK). Light to power the 1,000-times magnification microscope comes from a top-mounted LED flashlight.

The Global Focus microscope won this year’s Hershel M. Rich Invention Award, which is presented annually by Rice Engineering Alumni to a Rice faculty member or student who has developed an original invention. It was the first undergraduate project to win the award.

Good for you, dude – and congrats to Rice University for turning out useful students.

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