MAY 12, 2021 — Helping the underserved is a driving passion one UTSA student plans to accelerate after her graduation this month.
Cecilia Flores is a first-generation college student majoring in biomedical engineering. She also happens to be a Texas College of Business Hall of Fame Scholar finalist. She earned this distinction by co-founding Making Every Customer Matter, or MECM Medical, a company whose mission is to increase the quality of life for underserved and overlooked populations affected by disease, health conditions and disorders.
Cecilia grew up in a low-income neighborhood in the east Texas town of Quitman. She saw her parents struggle with how to care for her brother, who handles hardships from spina bifida. After transferring from the University of St. Thomas in Houston to UTSA, Cecilia became interested in leveraging her biomedical engineering education into a business opportunity to increase driver safety.
Due to the pandemic, Cecilia noted commercial drivers were working nearly three times their usual shifts and having difficulty maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Through her senior design program, Cecilia and her MECM Medical teammates, created a unique device to help keep commercial drivers awake during their shifts.
Once fatigue is detected in the driver, the device flashes a bright red LED light and sends a message to a dispatcher, who will call the driver to advise them to take a break before driving again.
“There are so many things going on in the news right now with people making bad calls,” Cecilia said. “Sometimes you need help and that’s why we wanted to include that human component of having someone call you to have that conversation and help you make a good call.”
The team developed a machine-learning algorithm that takes various physiological inputs from the driver and triggers the alert when certain inputs are reached.
By participating in UTSA’s 2019 Rowdy Tank competition, Cecilia’s company received $1,500 in funding and a key business advisor. Now, MECM Medical is set to pitch the device soon, and Cecilia is considering taking it to the market.
Cecilia greatly appreciates the support and encouragement she received from the UTSA faculty.
“My biomedical engineering professors are wonderful,” Cecilia said. “If I had gone to another university, I might not have experienced genuine care for myself. As a person, you know, they care about me.”
Before attending UTSA, she was anxious about going into the real world, but her professors validated her experience and encouraged her to keep going. Cecilia credits them for helping her identify talents she had and then motivating her to develop them at UTSA.
“I am incredibly grateful for that, and I’m incredibly grateful to be humbled because I think I needed that.”
After graduation, Cecilia is looking for opportunities to continue developing MECM’s camera alert system. However, she remains committed to a long-term career focused on underserved communities, particularly through healthcare.
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