Novel Neonatal Incubator for the Developing World


Member profile details

Membership level
2014-2015 Team
Project Thumbnail Image
Team Name
Project Title
Novel Neonatal Incubator for the Developing World
Design Challenge
Neonatal hypothermia, a condition in which an infant's core body temperature is less than 35C, is a dangerous health condition that often compounds illnesses and may lead to death. In the developing world, access to affordable, effective incubators is limited. Our project is to develop an innovative, low-cost neonatal incubator for the developing world that focuses specifically on temperature feedback and safety.
Design Summary
Our team is developing a low-cost, reliable neonatal incubator for the developing world.

We designed an incubator made of a combination of birch plywood and acrylic. The four walls in the incubator are double sided and contain polyurethane foam to provide extra insulation. Ports cut into the walls allow for easy access for medical tubing. Finally, an acrylic lid and acrylic window allow for easy viewing of the infant throughout the incubator operation.

The heat in the incubator is provided using two commercial heating pads, one in the back wall and one in the floor, that are easily modifiable and replaceable. The temperature is controlled by a microcontroller that receives inputs from a thermistor (temperature probe) on the infant. Using this data, the microcontroller turns on and off the heating pads to keep the infant's temperature at homeostasis. Finally, a comprehensive alarm system alerts the healthcare provider to over heating of the infant or power loss.

Our team has performed extensive testing to optimize and integrate our incubator subsystems in our device. Ultimately, our incubator can maintain an infant's temperature within +/- 1 degree celsius of the desired body temperature and has less than 2.5% error. Our work on this project culminated with the presentation of our device at the design showcase in April. Additionally, we have also documented our design process, allowing future Rice 360 teams to work on our project and facilitating its eventual implementation in Malawi.
Date Updated3
REA - Rice Engineering Alumni and BTB - HHMI
Sponsor Logo
  • Global Health Technologies
  • Bioengineering
Faculty Advisor 1 - Name
Dr. Maria Oden
Faculty Advisor 1 - Department
  • BIOE
  • RICE 360

Team Members

Award(s) and Recognition
Houston Global Health Conference - First Place "Overall Impact", Winner "Crowd Favorite"

Rice University - 2015 Engineering Design Showcase - Winner of "Best Interdisciplinary Design Project"

National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering DEBUT Challenge - Honorable Mention

Contact us

Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen
Rice University

6100 Main Street MS 390 | Houston, Texas | 77005

Phone: 713.348.OEDK


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