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A group of Old Dominion University engineering students is working with the Norfolk-based international development organization Physicians for Peace (PFP) to help in the creation of a national blood bank in the country of Mali.

The students' advisor, Stephen Knisley, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering and Batten Endowed Chair in Biomedical Engineering, hopes that the partnerships formed this fall lead to a permanent link with PFP, one that provides hands-on experience to aspiring engineers.

"This really is, potentially, a win-win arrangement for all of us," Knisley said.

The relationship with Physicians for Peace began in the spring with a professional contact Knisley made with PFP president Ron Sconyers. The retired U.S. Air Force brigadier general informed Knisley that the organization had received a donation of blood bank equipment from the Red Cross. Physicians for Peace planned to take the equipment to Africa, to help with the creation of a national blood bank in Mali. But the organization first wanted to make sure it worked as intended.

Four students in Knisley's Biomedical Engineering 401 class have spent the fall volunteering their time to test the equipment, making sure it's in working order before being shipped. Starting with learning how the centrifuges and other blood management tools operate, the students have methodically worked their way through it all, making alterations as necessary so that when it arrives in Mali, the medical equipment will perform as intended. The equipment has also been inspected by the local American Red Cross.

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Published on: February 1, 2013