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Exploring Applications of Technology in Health and Wellness

Feb 12, 2018   |   by Joseph Blumberg   |   Dartmouth News

George Boateng '16 Th'17 puts computer science and engineering degrees to work.

Professor David Kotz ’86 (left) and George Boateng

Professor David Kotz ’86 (left) and George Boateng have worked together on the Amulet, a type of "computational jewelry." (Photo by Robert Gill)

George Boateng '16 Th'17 arrived at Dartmouth in 2012 with an agenda. He had come 5,000 miles, seeking ways to make a difference in education and health in the developing world—in his native Ghana, in particular.

At Dartmouth, he gained hands-on experience in computer science and engineering in a place where his work had the potential to produce real-world applications. Boateng proceeded to blaze a trail marked by accolades for his research and recognition for his humanitarian accomplishments. Most recently, he won Dartmouth’s Martin Luther King Jr. Social Justice Award for Emerging Leadership for his work as co-founder and president of the nonprofit Nsesa Foundation.

“ ‘Nsesa’ literally means ‘change’ in the Ghanaian language, Akan,” says Boateng. “Our vision is to spur an innovation revolution—a movement in which the youth across the length and breadth of Africa are developing innovative solutions to problems in their communities using STEM.”

“I was so pleased to hear that George had won the Martin Luther King Jr. Social Justice Award this year,” says David Kotz ’86, the Champion International Professor in the Department of Computer Science, interim provost, and Boateng’s longtime mentor. “His work to create and operate the Nsesa Foundation has made such a great difference to so many young people in Ghana.”

Boateng entered the realm of research during his first year at Dartmouth, pursuing robotics with Associate Professor Devin Balkcom. Boateng participated in a robotic knot-tying project that continued into his sophomore year. His contributions were acknowledged in the subsequent published report.

In his junior year, Boateng began work with Thayer School of Engineering’s Kofi Odame, an associate professor, and Ryan Halter, who also holds adjunct appointments in computer science and at the Geisel School of Medicine.

“I was trying to build a chest-belt device for use at home to digitally replicate the shape of the chest during breathing, monitoring cardiac output,” Boateng says. “It made me realize that, though I had the skills to do both hardware and software, I was more interested in the software aspect of research.”

In the years to follow, Boateng stayed on the software path and figured prominently in the development of the Amulet, a joint project of Dartmouth and Clemson University, spearheaded by Kotz and Halter.

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