Story in the School of Engineering
Kadee Mardula '11
Mechanical Engineering major
Mechanical engineering student Kadee Mardula '11 and bioengineering student Simi Olabisi '11 collaborate with colleagues to design a low-cost, solar-powered, neonatal incubator for use in Nigeria.
Kadee Mardula ’11, a mechanical engineering major, has made caring for the world’s people and resources the overarching theme of her four years at Santa Clara. She served as communications lead for the 2009 Solar Decathlon team. On campus, she headed the SCU chapters of Every Two Minutes, a sexual assault awareness program, and Engineers Without Borders (EWB), an organization dedicated to addressing people’s basic needs, such as access to clean water. This past September, Mardula traveled with EWB to Honduras on a goodwill mission to help design a water-distribution and storage system.
Following her junior year, she interned in the prosthetics lab at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. As a senior, she served as a Hackworth Fellow in ethics, revising the School of Engineering honor code. Meanwhile, she also made time for her senior design project: developing a low-cost, solar-powered neonatal incubator for use in Nigeria.
“Santa Clara has given me the foundation to do what I want to do, to continue learning, to have specialized fields and interests, while keeping social justice and the world in mind,” she says.
The idea for the senior design project came from bioengineering major Simi Olabisi ’11, who worked on the invention with Mardula and five other students. Olabisi was born prematurely in Nigeria. “She only survived because her father was able to run her to one of the few hospitals that had an incubator,” Mardula says.
Even the hospitals that have an incubator often do not have the power to run it, which is why Mardula and colleagues designed a solar-thermal collector to generate power for a small photovoltaic panel that operates the life-saving equipment.
Mardula plans to continue helping the less fortunate in the future. Her ultimate goals: designing prosthetics to improve amputees’ quality of life and establishing a free clinic to dispense them.