George Hacks attends CONNECTpreneur Forum

This past Thursday, three of the George Hacks leaders attended the CONNECTpreneur Forum in Columbia, MD. Caitlyn, Konstantin, and Michael enjoyed meeting with some incredible entrepreneurs and business leaders. The Big Idea CONNECTpreneur Forum is a Community of over 8000 CEOs, Entrepreneurs, VCs and angels, CXOs and other business leaders in the Mid-Atlantic Region.

Some event highlights:

  • Fireside chat with Andrew Hermalyn, President at 2U, Inc., one of the world’s leading education technology companies
  • VIP Investor and Innovator Panel: “Innovation and Investment Trends”
  • 250 business leaders, including 100+ CEOs & Founders, as well as 50+ angels & VCs
  • Showcase of 10 emerging tech companies

George Hacks is excited to further our outreach and create these new partnerships.

George Hacks team member, Christianne Chua, named a Barry Goldwater Scholar

Our very own Social Media Chair and former George Hacks participant, Christianne Chua, has been named a 2019 Barry T. Goldwater Scholar, the highest national-level award for outstanding undergraduate researchers in STEM.  

Christianne is the only SEAS student (and one of three GW students) to receive this prestigious award.  Her research is in the field of cardiac optogenetics in Dr. Emilia Entcheva’s laboratory; she was trained by and worked closely with PhD students Julie Han and Weizhen Li.

We are so proud of you, Christianne, and keep up the hard work!

Michael Degaga (left), Weizhen Li, Sarah Schrup, Emilia Entcheva, Christianne Chua and Julie Han attended the 2018 BMES Annual Meeting in Atlanta.

George Hacks students win big at the 2019 New Venture Competition Finals

Last Thursday night, four George Hacks affiliated teams won big at the 11th Annual GW Office of Innovation & Entrepreneurship’s New Venture Competition Finals. 216 teams entered into the competition back in January and only 12 teams advanced all the way to the finals round. We are so proud of all their hard work and wish them the best of luck moving forward!

Congratulations to our director, Caitlyn Pratt, and her team, Takin’ it Easy, which won Runner-Up in the Technology Ventures track ($5,000). Takin’ it Easy is a user-friendly, cost-effective automated pill dispenser providing medical safety and autonomy for users and families.

From left to right: Sydney Bailes (SEAS ’19), Caitlyn Pratt (SEAS ’21), Solomon Abrams (GWSB ’19)

Congratulations to the Mobility Innovators team, who won Runner-Up in the Social Ventures track ($5,000). The team developed a compact tray designed for U.S. veteran wheelchair users. Their problem statement was originally provided by the Veterans Health Administration Innovation Ecosystem at the 2019 George Hacks Medical Solutions Hackathon.

From left to right: Justina Pruski (SEAS ’21), Jonathan Lau (SEAS ’22), Raymond Yau (SEAS ’22), Giavanna Corazza (SEAS ’22)

Congratulations to the Voxion team, who also competed in the finals round and was awarded an Honorable Mention ($2,500). Voxion is a user-friendly and cost-effective solution for consumer-facing businesses to build custom voice applications.

From left to right: Nathaniel Bury (SEAS ’22), Saramarie Puzzanghera (SEAS ’22), Sam Bunger(SEAS ’21)

Congratulations to two former George Hacks participants, Jagan Doodala and Christian Trummer, founders of WATTerWagon, which won the Quinn Prize for Best International & Social Entrepreneurship Venture ($7,500). WATTerWagon increases water carrying capacity and eliminates strenuous labor for hundreds of millions living in rural water-scarce regions.

From left to right:  Christian Trummer  (SEAS ’21), Jagan Doodala (CCAS ’19)

George Hacks featured in “GW Students Pursue Startups and Entrepreneurship”

Did you know we work with the GW Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship?

The GW Office on Innovation and Entrepreneurship works with George Hacks and other organizations such as GW Data to host hackathons, competitive events in which groups work to create functioning product designs.

“GW Students Pursue Startups and Entrepreneurship,” GW Today

Our director, Caitlyn Pratt, had the opportunity to share her experience launching her own company, Takin’ it Easy, which focuses on medication management through an automatic pill dispenser system.

Takin’ it Easy has a working prototype and will be competing in the final round of the New Venture Competition this Thursday. After developing a more refined prototype, Ms. Pratt’s team hopes to launch a pilot program with their local Veteran Affairs contacts, previously established through George Hacks, before launching a Kickstarter campaign.

“GW Students Pursue Startups and Entrepreneurship,” GW Today
From left to right: Sydney Bailes, Caitlyn Pratt and Solomon Abrams represented Takin’ It Easy in the 2019 New Venture Competitions finals on Thursday.

View the full article here.

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George Hacks teams advance to finals of New Venture Competition

This week, three George Hacks affiliated teams advanced to the final round of the GW Office of Innovation & Entrepreneurship’s New Venture Competition. 12 teams remain out of 216 that entered. We are so proud of all their hard work and wish them the best of luck moving forward!

Our director, Caitlyn Pratt, is CEO of her company Takin’ It Easy, which developed an automatic pill dispenser to alleviate the burden placed on caregivers when taking care of their loved ones. The venture was first developed last November at VCU HealthHacks.

From left to right: Sydney Bailes (SEAS ’19), Caitlyn Pratt (SEAS ’21), Solomon Abrams (GWSB ’19)

Giavanna Corazza, a George Hacks Ambassador, continued to work on her pitch provided by the Veterans Health Administration Innovation Ecosystem at the 2019 George Hacks Medical Solutions Hackathon. Her team, Mobility Innovators, developed a compact tray for U.S. veterans who are wheelchair bound and lack independence.

From left to right: Justina Pruski (SEAS ’21), Jonathan Lau (SEAS ’22), Raymond Yau (SEAS ’22), Giavanna Corazza (SEAS ’22)

Sam Bunger, the George Hacks web developer, is one of the engineers behind Voxion, a user-friendly and cost-effective solution for consumer-facing businesses to build custom voice applications.

From left to right: Nathaniel Bury (SEAS ’22), Saramarie Puzzanghera (SEAS ’22), Sam Bunger(SEAS ’21)

George Hacks One Year Anniversary

Today, March 25th, marks one year since George Hacks’ inaugural medical solutions hackathon at the George Washington University.

Reflecting on the previous year, I am extremely proud of our accomplishments. I remember jumping on a fundraising call and being told that we do not have enough time to organize a quality event and therefore no monetary support would be given. Two months later, we had an incredible inaugural event that set the tone for the continued growth and success of our organization.

Konstantin Mitic, BME B.S. ‘18, M.S. ‘20
Co-Founder, George Hacks

George Hacks is a student-led organization that provides students a platform for problem-based, interdisciplinary healthcare innovation for social impact. We focus on the intersection between the medical field and entrepreneurship.

Our ‘hackathons’ are innovation competitions that facilitate early applications of classroom knowledge to real-world issues, develop teamwork skills, and improve communication of ideas across disciplines.

We present innovation challenges sourced directly from the needs of healthcare organization partners to give students the opportunity to address existing problems in healthcare. To facilitate students’ success, we provide a multitude of resources including workshops for technical and soft skills, mentorship from industry professionals, and the opportunity to continue developing your idea after our hackathon.

From our past two hackathons, we have accumulated more than 160 hackers, 41 teams, 110 mentors & judges, and 28 collaborators. Problem statements and solutions from our events have since been granted pro bono patents, won prizes at business and entrepreneurial competitions, and have been entered into departmental senior design programs.

We aim to keep expanding the organization to more universities in the DMV ecosystem. Our main focus at each university is the annual medical hackathon. However, we support our students before and after our hackathons so that they can make, create, and innovate on their own. George Hacks is more than just an event.

I first got involved when I attended VCU’s medical hackathon last November as a part of the George Hacks’ Innovators in Action program, where my team developed a medical assistive device for those who struggle managing large numbers of medications. Since VCU, George Hacks continues to support my team and provide us with the unique opportunity to be mentored by industry professionals as we work to bring our device to market.

Now, as the director of George Hacks, I have the opportunity to promote the entrepreneurial spirit by exposing students to what it takes to create a feasible, marketable solution, and provide students with resources to move forward in the innovation pipeline. My experiences from George Hacks, both as a hacker and an organizer, have shaped my growth and passions thus far as a young, female biomedical engineering student. I am incredibly grateful for the team members, healthcare professionals, and faculty mentors I’ve worked with through this process.

Caitlyn Pratt, BME B.S. ‘21
Director, George Hacks

Thank you to everyone who made this journey possible.

George Hacks presents “Promoting Social Change Through Innovation” at AAAS Annual Meeting

This past weekend in Washington, D.C. at the AAAS Annual Meeting, the George Hacks team had the opportunity to share their organization with a community of scientists dedicated to improving society both environmentally and socially.

Our presentation, titled “Promoting Social Change Through Innovation with GWU’s George Hacks” covered our achievements in engaging students in social impact innovation at our hackathons. We discussed the intersection of innovation & entrepreneurship, the hackathon lifestyle, and the GWU startup ecosystem.

Our student-led organization promotes a problem-based interdisciplinary approach to solving current social and technological healthcare issues through the competitive, project-based events we organize. We successfully hosted our second annual 24-hour medical solutions hackathon this past January to solve issues raised by local and national healthcare organizations. In partnership with the Veterans Health Administration, we presented students with current challenges ranging from veteran health care, to on-campus food insecurity, prosthetic modification, and much more.

We showed attendees the applicable solutions students have created at their events and provided information for both undergraduate and graduate students who may want to get involved through competition or expansion of the organization. George Hacks is excited to further our outreach and create these new partnerships.

George Hacks Founder, Brianna Cathey, publishes paper in Scientific Reports

George Hacks founder, Brianna Cathey, and Sofian Obaid, working with Dr. Igor Efimov, are the first authors in paper published January 24 in Scientific Reports. This paper presents an open-source platform for optocardiography, in which both software and hardware are open to the public via open-source license. Hardware can be printed on a 3D printer, and the platform will be useful in research and education of the heart.  

The citation for their paper is: B. Cathey, S. Obaid, A. M. Zolotarev, R. A. Pryamonosov, R. A. Syunyaev, S. A. George, and I. R. Efimov. “Open-Source Multiparametric Optocardiography,” Scientific Reports, Vol. 9: 721 (2019).

A recent GW Today article, “SEAS Students Design 3D-Printed Optical Mapping System,” further explains their research and its implications.

George Hacks partners with the Veterans Health Administration

Last month, the Veterans Health Administration became an official partner of George Hacks. We are proud to join the VHA to highlight the many areas in which students can improve the lives of U.S. Veterans living with a wide range of disabilities incurred while serving our country.

At the 2019 Medical Solutions Hackathon, attending local veterans gave students the unique opportunity to address their personal medical needs, ranging from prosthetic adaptations for outdoor activities to medical examination accessibility.

We are incredibly grateful to be able to give our competitors the opportunity to improve the lives of those who dedicated their lives to improving ours, and we look forward to broadening our impact in continuing our engagement with the veteran population in future events. 

Recap | 2nd Annual Medical Solutions Hackathon

At 9:00 AM sharp on January 26th, students began filing into the B1 Level of SEH for the 2nd Annual George Hacks Medical Solutions Hackathon. Undergraduates signed up for the promise of an intellectual challenge, a chance to showcase their skills, and of course, free food.

This year, 80+ students divided into 20 teams to tackle real-world challenges from an expanded network of healthcare organizations. George Hacks partnered with the Veterans Health Administration and collaborated with Quality of Life Plus, OpenEMR, GW Hospital, and others who brought problems ranging from prosthetic modification, on-campus food insecurity, veteran health care, healthcare access, and more.

Teams presented their solutions in two rounds of judging, one round for technical qualifications and the other to evaluate the product in its intended market. The students exceeded expectations, making the event an absolute success, showcasing George Hacks’ mission of healthcare innovation for social impact.

Check out our recap video!


84 Participants | 55 Judges & Mentors | 8 Partners | 10 Sponsors


Best Overall: We’re Working On It

Team Members: Sydney Bailes, Camille Daszynski, Mateusz Gierdalski, Jared Kern

Pitch Title: Adapting prosthetics for uneven terrain, provided by Quality of Life Plus

Best Demo: Handicycle

Team Members: Emily Cheung, Shubham Gupta, Elizabeth Fischer, Elias Ross Trupin

Pitch Title: Prosthetic Leg Holder for Handcycle, provided by Quality of Life Plus

Best Pitch: Bioelectric

Team Members: Lujain Al-Khawi , Matt Taylor, Ji-Eun Kim, Karen Rius

Pitch Title: Adapting prosthetics for uneven terrain, provided by Quality of Life Plus

Best Demo Runner-Up: Avengineers

Team Members: Shirali Nigam, Bianca Karpinecz, Jillian McGough, Trish Mikolajczyk

Pitch Title: ‘Getting Up’ alert for geriatric patients, provided by Christina Prather, MD (GW Hospital)

Post-Event Booklet