Alum driven to improve access to health care

Feb 12, 2020
Dieff Vital
Florida Polytechnic University alumnus Dieff Vital ’17 explains his research to students and researchers at the 2019 International Microwave Symposium. Photo courtesy 2019 International Microwave Symposium, image credit LylePhotos, Atlanta.

Editor’s Note: This story is part of a series of feature stories that highlight diversity on Florida Poly’s campus and celebrate Black History Month.

Florida Polytechnic University alumnus Dieff Vital ’17 has dedicated his educational career to ensuring poor and underserved communities can access the care and services they need to thrive.

“I’m from a country where access to health care is extremely difficult, if not impossible,” the native of Haiti said. “You have a lot of people there like myself who want to help, but the lack of opportunity holds them back. Having an opportunity to learn something and take it back to my community is my motivation.”

This desire to help is the reason Vital pushed himself as a mechanical engineering student and research assistant at Florida Poly.

“There’s a little boy like myself out there who dreams of becoming who I am today, and that’s why every step of the way when things get tougher, I stay the course and never give up,” Vital said. “I have to achieve my goals because while my achievements are just for me today, tomorrow they will be a foundation for somebody who looks like me and wants to be like me.”

After receiving his bachelor’s degree from Florida Poly in 2017, he enrolled in the electrical and computer engineering doctoral program at Florida International University, where he is now working to develop technology that will transform the way biosensors and medical devices are powered.

“Florida Poly’s project-based education and the research experience gathered during my two years working with dedicated professors gave me the foundation and the tools I need to succeed in this effort,” Vital said.

He said the wearable antenna technology will make it easier and more affordable for patients to get the care they need. It may also prove invaluable in a natural disaster or other emergency when traditional power supplies are unavailable.

Vital’s research involves incorporating wearable antennas and electronic circuits into fabric to capture power released into the atmosphere by cell towers and convert them into usable power to operate on-body devices. The system transmits the power to charge biosensors and medical devices such as pacemakers and insulin pumps.

“This technology is very well suited for people in underserved or poor communities because these people cannot go to the hospital all the time or spend so much money,” Vital said. “When they have this device, they can stay home and use Wi-Fi signals to power their devices.”

Vital said he is also working on developing a smart bandage to assist in wound care, a solution that would be particularly beneficial to diabetic patients and those recovering from surgery.

“I’m trying to develop a low-cost smart bandage that will allow these people to stay home and manage their wound and send that information remotely to their doctor,” Vital said.

Challenges to accessing care throughout the United States also fuel his desire for progress.

“The black community here has been left behind when it comes to access to health care, and a lot of that is because we have a lack of representation,” Vital said.

He hopes to receive his Ph.D. in 2022.

Lydia Guzman
Director of Communications