GW Students Innovate at First George Hacks Competition

Undergraduate students proposed novel ideas to develop assistive devices at the 24-hour medical hackathon.

March 26, 2018

GW today

Undergraduate students proposed novel ideas for assistive devices at the first George Hacks competition on Saturday and Sunday. (Photos provided by Isabella Sardegna)

By Kristen Mitchell

George Washington University students and other undergraduate innovators put their minds to work over the weekend to come up with what could be the next generation of life-changing medical devices.

Undergraduate students from Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia worked in teams for 24 hours with few breaks at the first ever George Hacks innovation competition held at Science and Engineering Hall on Saturday and Sunday. The goal of the event—GW’s first medical hackathon—was to develop assistive devices.

The teams proposed novel ideas ranging from a reverse view camera for wheelchairs to making assistive devices adaptable for use in Tanzanian refugee camps. The event was open to all undergraduate students from all fields of study interested in increasing availability of affordable medical devices.

Michael Ready, a junior majoring in economics and international affairs and director of the George Hacks team, said he is excited that so many motivated and enthusiastic students attended the inaugural event.

"Not only were the pitches from our sponsors dynamic and challenging, but the solutions presented by participants surpassed our expectations,” he said. “Multiple teams developed relationships with our sponsor organizations and will be continuing in some format with their project or ideas. This was the ultimate goal of George Hacks, and we are already making big plans for next year.”

After working for nearly 24 hours and through the night, the student teams showcased their pitches on Sunday and went through two rounds of judging from GW professors and sponsor representatives. The top four teams—all GW students—received medals and prizes.

  • The first-place team composed of Erin Flynn, a mechanical engineering student; Steven Brunetto, a civil engineering student; Joseph Espy, a computer science student; and Logan Bartholomew, a chemistry student, won for their pitch titled “Adapting Assistive Devices for Use in Burundian Refugee Camp in Tanzania.”
  • The team of public health students Alexandra Kaplan, Natalie Zukoff and Ngozi Ihenacho, and Sayna Matinrazm, a creative English student, placed second for their pitch titled “Smart Hospital Technology to Improve Patient Mood and Satisfaction.”
  • The third-place team of Shirali Nigam, Bianca Karpinecz, Patrycja Mikolajczyk, Mercedes Suazo, all biomedical engineering students, were awarded for their pitch titled “Reverse View Camera for Wheelchairs.”
  • The fourth-place finishers were biomedical engineering students Karandeep Singh and Daniel Buford; Abigail DeMassi, a mechanical and aerospace engineering student; and Sebastian Lora, a mechanical engineering and law student, awarded for their pitch “Redesigning Stores and Shelving for People in Wheelchairs.”

George Hacks was a student-organized event sponsored by the School of Engineering and Applied Science and the Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship within the Office of the Vice President for Research.