George Hacks Wishes Dr. David Lee the Best as He Retires from GW

This year, the George Washington University School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS) is saying goodbye to one of its own faculty members, Dr. David Lee. After coming to teach at GW in 2015, Professor Lee is retiring following the impactful legacy he has left with the school.

Five years ago, Lee became the Associate Professor of Practice in the Biomedical Engineering Department here at GW. Here, he taught biomedical engineering as the primary faculty advisor of the BME senior capstone course. Additionally, he taught BME undergraduates across all years, providing all of his students with valuable insights into the field of engineering as seen in practice.  Professor Lee constantly demonstrated his passion for education and strove to tailor learning curriculums towards guaranteeing the success of future engineers.

Specifically for George Hacks, Professor Lee’s long standing support will forever be cherished. Alongside Professor Zara, he has consistently been an invaluable mentor to our team. During his time here, he was also an active volunteer at each of our three annual Medical Solutions Hackathons to date. Not only did he encourage his students to participate in these events, but he also assisted numerous participants in idea formation and design optimization in person at the event. Without his unconditional support, George Hacks wouldn’t be the organization that it is today. 

Students and past participants had this to say about Professor Lee; 

It was an honor to be an LA for Professor Lee’s freshman seminar class this past semester. His dedication shows both in and out of the classroom, and his focus on a well-rounded engineering education with an emphasis on human centered design encouraged me to explore unique applications of biomedical engineering.

Giavanna Corazza, SEAS ‘22, Past Participant & George Hacks Team Member

Professor Lee always challenged me in unique ways in his freshman BME 1020 course and for that I am forever grateful. He helped me develop an engineering mindset and that it is okay to think outside the box. It was a pleasure to have Dr.Lee as a professor and to work alongside him as a teaching assistant this past spring semester. Thank you Professor Lee for all your words of encouragement and advice. You will truly be missed.

Justina Pruski, SEAS ‘21, Past Participant

Thank you Professor Lee for continuing to guide the BME class from our first BME 1010 course all the way through Capstone. You have taught us valuable lessons and have shaped our attitude, mentality, and the way we think to be better engineers. Best of luck in your future adventures and enjoy your well-deserved retirement!

Camille Daszynski, SEAS ‘20, Past Participant

George Hacks will miss Professor David Lee greatly as he moves forward from GW. Not only has he been a key advisor and supporter of our organization, but he also fulfilled an integral role in our SEAS community. During his time here, he passionately taught students the engineering mindset and was a mentor to many. He truly exemplified what it means to lead by example and we wish him all the best in all his future endeavors.

We are so grateful for the time, commitment, and mentorship Dr. Lee has shown the George Hacks team and participants. He has come to every one of our events since the very first George Hacks medical hackathon, and we look forward to inviting him back to GW for all our future events.

Caitlyn Pratt, SEAS ’20, Former Director of George Hacks

George Hacks Faculty Advisor, Dr. Jason Zara, Is Awarded the 2020 Oscar and Shoshana Trachtenberg Prize for Teaching Excellence

This year the George Washington University celebrated its Tenth Annual Faculty Honors Ceremony. Every year, notable faculty members are selected from a variety of schools for their “extraordinary dedication to teaching, scholarship, and the university.” Hosted by the office of the Provost and the Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs, this ceremony aims to honor remarkable faculty members at GW.  Unfortunately, due to the coronavirus pandemic, live celebrations have been postponed, but award winners will still be recognized virtually. 

Several faculty members from the GW School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS) won awards during the virtual ceremony, including the Oscar and Shoshana Trachtenberg Prize for Teaching Excellence. Established in 1990 by President Emeritus Stephen Joel Trachtenberg, it is presented to a faculty member who demonstrates excellence in teaching, defined as “the accurate and effective communication to undergraduate students of important cultural, historical, or scientific material, as well as current scholarship and scholarly debates in the fields involved.” The award is presented to a professor nominated and endorsed by undergraduate students and their department respectively. 

This year, George Hacks is proud to congratulate Professor Jason Zara for winning this award. As a devoted member in the SEAS community, he has exemplified remarkable dedication to both GW and his students.  An accomplished engineer, Professor Zara has won numerous other awards, founded two start-ups, and holds seven U.S patents.  Additionally, he has worked for the last 18 years in developing medical imaging technology for detection of “epithelial cancers, epilepsy, and other human diseases”. Nonetheless, Professor Zara remains an integral member of SEAS, taking the time to mentor students and strengthen the GW Department of Biomedical Engineering.

Recap | George Hacks Third Annual Medical Solutions Hackathon

The George Hacks Third Annual Medical Solutions Hackathon commenced on the morning of Saturday, January 25th. Beginning at noon, 18 teams worked to devise a solution to one of 12 problem statements pitched by a local healthcare organization. Only twenty-four hours later, teams demonstrated and pitched their solutions for the chance to win prizes.

George Hacks Medical Solutions 2020 Recap Video

The event began with Opening Ceremonies featuring Rob Jones, a U.S. Marine Corps Veteran whose inspirational journey as a double-above-the-knee amputee led him to submit an innovation challenge at the 2019 Medical Solutions Hackathon. Following his keynote speech, representatives of various DMV healthcare organizations presented their problem statements to participants. Soon after, participants formed teams of up to four students and decided upon the challenge they wanted to pursue over the next 24 hours.

Rob Jones | Opening Ceremonies Keynote Speaker

In working through their challenges, students were able to consult with experienced mentors, utilize technical materials, and attend workshops relevant to their projects. Arduino, Raspberry-Pi, 3D Modeling with Fusion 360, and Application Development Workshops allowed teams to integrate a technical aspect into their solutions while a How-to-Pitch-Your-Idea Workshop provided tips on effective communication of those solutions to in a typical entrepreneurial setting.

As the event proceeded into the night, participants found opportunities to break from their projects, including networking with pitch presenters and mentors, grabbing free food from the snack table, attending a free yoga session, and destressing through a midnight nerf gun tournament! A few persistent teams stayed the night adding the final few finishing details to their projects in preparation for the next morning.

Early on Sunday, January 26th, teams prepared for two rounds of judging. The first round was a demo round, in which students were tasked to demonstrate their prototype and/or explain the technicalities of their methods to solve their selected problem statement. Closely following the first judging round was the pitch round, which focused more heavily on the marketability and business plan of each team’s venture. Based on the scores from both rounds, teams were now in the run to win big.

Closing ceremonies saw the presentation of awards to the three highest overall scores as well as two spot prizes, one for Best Implementation of Hardware and another for Best Pitch. GW President Thomas Leblanc delivered closing remarks followed by final comments from the GW Office of Innovation & Entrepreneurship, GW Technology Commercialization Office, and the GW Innovation Center.

President LeBlanc | Closing Remarks

George Hacks would like to acknowledge our event sponsors and partners as well as our judges, mentors, and volunteers for their time and support. Thank you also to our participants who made our event a resounding success. We look forward to seeing you again next year at the George Hacks Fourth Annual Medical Solutions Hackathon in 2021!

Special thank you to our Medical Solutions 2020 sponsors & partners!

For a more detailed event summary, feel free to download our post-event booklet below!

Recap | George Hacks 2019 Kogan Makerspace

George Hacks hosted its Second Annual Kogan Makerspace event two weeks ago on Wednesday, October 9th, an event showcasing the growing innovation ecosystem at GW.

A pop-up event in the main plaza at the George Washington University, Kogan Makerspace featured several activity stations, free George Hacks SWAG and drinks, our tabling partners, and even a competition to win a free Bluetooth speaker.

At the stations, students were immersed in hands-on activities in order to gain insight into some of the tools available for ideation, creation, and innovation. Students could print designs and objects with 3-D printing pens, play songs on a floor piano, make their very own circuit, write their ideas about change on a collaborative think board, and even take home a do-it-yourself heart sensor for a chance to win a wireless speaker worth $100.

Along with the various activities, participants were able to interact with our tabling partners involved with innovation and entrepreneurship on campus, including GW Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, GWupstart, GW Data and the Veterans Health Administration. Our partner organizations informed students about their organizations and the resources they made available to students.

George Hacks 2019 Kogan Makerspace Tabling Partners

Students were also able to converse with members of the George Hacks team to learn more about our resources and network.

The next major George Hacks event will be our Third Annual Medical Solutions Hackathon on January 25th-26th, 2020, a 24-hour interdisciplinary healthcare-focused hackathon open to students of all majors.

George Hacks featured in “The New GW Innovation+Entrepreneurship Lab Opens”

George Hacks’ new headquarters in the GW Innovation+Entrepreneurship (GW I+E) Lab at MakeOffices was highlighted in GW Today, the university’s official online news source.

“Without a dedicated office space, the leaders of the interdisciplinary student organization George Hacks have met and organized the group’s annual medical hackathons wherever they could since its inception nearly two years ago. But recently the group has found a home on the seventh floor of the Shops at 2000 Penn building in the George Washington University Innovation+Entrepreneurship (I+E) Lab, a new on-campus student co-working space.”

“The New GW Innovation+Entrepreneurship Lab Opens,” GW Today

George Hacks is one of the first student groups to participate in OIE’s Innovator Access Program, which gives vetted students and student groups free dedicated desks and 24/7 access to the I+E Lab.

The article, which focuses on the beginnings of the new student co-working space, features our director, Caitlyn Pratt, who explained how the George Hacks team utilizes the office.

“This space helped remove a lot of obstacles that were potentially inhibiting our growth and provides a platform for our continued growth and success,” Caitlyn commented regarding the advantages the new location has contributed our rapidly-growing organization.

“The New GW Innovation+Entrepreneurship Lab Opens,” GW Today

Read more about our space at MakeOffices in 2000 Penn as well as opportunities with the GW Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship here.

George Hacks Receives New Office Space at MakeOffices

Last night, George Hacks team members attended the GW Innovation and Entrepreneurship Lab (I+E Lab) Partnership Kickoff and Open House at MakeOffices at their new location in the 2000 Pennsylvania Avenue Building.

The kickoff launched the GW IE Lab partnership with Makeoffices that will serve as an on-campus resource to GW students and faculty. The event was a chance to showcase the new space and to allow students, faculty and other attendees to network over some light refreshments.

The coworking space is open to students and staff to come with their ideas and have access to one-to-one advising, office hours with industry experts, workshops, and events. Additionally, the MakeOffices location is equipped with a full kitchen, various working spaces, a full kitchen and even free coffee!

The GW IE Lab also has office co-working spaces that are open to student organizations who can work on their ideas and projects. George Hacks has been provided with two desks in the office where we work to plan our events and interact with team members. We also hold our weekly e-board meetings in the MakeOffices conference rooms. 

We are thankful to the GW Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship for the opportunity to have space in the office and look forward to collaborating and innovating with other students, faculty and organizations on campus through the coworking space.

George Hacks Officially Acquired Non-Profit Status!

Before George Hacks was established at the GW campus in 2018, George Washington University lacked a space for students of all disciplines to come together for a greater purpose: healthcare innovation. In response to this demand, we envisioned George Hacks as a one-time medical hackathon. Our first event generated overwhelmingly positive energy surrounding our generation’s effort and capability in addressing pressing healthcare issues. We had given students a hands-on opportunity to envision their future role in the betterment of social health, and in some cases, turn their ideas into a new venture. 

From there, we couldn’t help but think bigger. So, in order to create a sustainable platform for social impact innovation in D.C. and in surrounding areas, George Hacks has acquired non-profit status. Please read below about the four George Hacks Incorporators. The support and enthusiasm of our diverse community of faculty, staff, industry professionals, mentors, and students have been the driving force behind our growth. With each step we take to broaden our impact, we strive to better serve the George Hacks community and those outside of it whose lives can be changed through students’ problem-solving, teamwork, and forward-thinking mindset. 

George Hacks has transformed from an event into a community, changing education through innovation. Despite our non-profit status, much else will remain unchanged at the student level. We will still be hosting our Annual Medical Solutions Hackathon on January 25th-26th of 2020, in addition to a few other exciting events this year. Please stay tuned on our website and social media for more updates!

Caitlyn Pratt (SEAS ‘21) has been the face of George Hacks’ growth since she joined the team in 2018 as a sophomore. She will continue in her role as Director and will oversee the coordination of events and engage our growing network. 
Brianna Cathey (SEAS ‘19) served as Technical Director of George Hacks beginning with the inaugural hackathon. She has curated the innovation challenges presented to students and provided participants with prototyping resources and assistance.
Konstantin Mitic (SEAS ‘18) first planted the George Hacks seed after he left his first hackathon wanting to create a network for students to continue with the innovative process even after a hackathon ended. He is everywhere all at once with his undying enthusiasm and positive engagement with the George Hacks community.
Michael Ready (CCAS ‘19), our resident non-engineer, is the brains behind the initial development of a hackathon with social impact. His strategy in putting together our first event has allowed us to leverage George Hacks into a sustainable community around social innovation.

2019 MIT DC Grand Hack Recap

Three George Hacks team members participated in the MIT Hacking Medicine Grand Hack DC at the Samsung Solutions Center two weekends ago.

Caitlyn Pratt, Jinbi Tian and Freddie Li took part in the three-day hackathon that partnered with the Veteran’s Health Administration and focused on solutions to help improve care for veteran’s across the country. George Hacks also saw participation in the event from four hackathon veterans, Shubham Gupta, Bianca Karpinecz, Liz Fischer and Emily Cheung.

The event, sponsored by Samsung, took place during the first weekend of August. On Friday, the first day of the event, participants attended an event kickoff, broke out into pitching sessions and formed teams. Teams created their ideas and practiced their pitches on Saturday and final presentations and awards wrapped up the competition on Sunday.

The hackathon consisted of three tracks for participants: access to healthcare, mental health and professional burnout, and rare and orphan diseases. The three George Hacks team members competed in the mental health track, which focused on the areas surrounding mental health diagnoses, prevention and care.

Along with brainstorming and building innovative solutions to various veteran’s health issues, participants of the hackathon heard from four keynote speakers throughout the weekend. Dr. Carolyn Clancy, VHA Deputy Under Secretary for Health for Discovery, Education and Affiliate Networks, John Godfrey, Senior Vice President of Public Policy for Samsung Electronics America, Dr. Jon Bloom, a board-certified physician and entrepreneur, and Dr. Sharad Verma, Director of Research and Development for the Neurofibromatosis TherapyAcceleration Program addressed participants, discussing various topics surrounding veteran’s health and innovation.

Former George Hacks Participants Take Innovation to the 2019 BMES Coulter College

Last weekend, our Social Media Chair, Christianne Chua, and her three teammates represented GW Biomedical Engineering at the 2019 BMES Coulter College in Minneapolis, Minnesota. A distinguished program focused on educating students in the “translation of biomedical innovations,” Coulter College recruits “mentors in key problem areas [the 2019 cycle featured structural heart, chronic hypertension, or type 2 diabetes disease management] to guide student teams through a highly dynamic process designed to help them better understand how innovations can meet clinical needs, while providing tools and approaches used to develop novel solutions for identified clinical problems” (read more about BMES Coulter College here). The conference convened at Medtronic facilities and was further supported by the Wallace H. Coulter Foundation and the Biomedical Engineering Society.

Invitation to the program is highly competitive as only 12 teams comprising 4 students and a single senior design faculty mentor are selected nationwide. Anastasia Carr, Christianne Chua (our Social Media Chair and 2019 Medical Solutions Participant), Camille Daszynski (2019 Medical Solutions Participant), and Mercedes Suazo (2018 Medical Solutions Participant) as well as capstone faculty mentor Dr. David Lee were notified in May of their acceptance into Coulter College and assigned type 2 diabetes disease management.

From there, an intensive period of preparation began for the team. After compiling a lengthy pre-assignment researching their assigned disease, conducting clinician interviews, and attending multiple BMES-hosted webinars, the GW quartet whittled down their 20-page deliverable into several need statements required by program coordinators upon arrival to Minneapolis.

From Thursday afternoon through Sunday morning, the team experienced a completely immersive agenda of lectures, facility tours, and professional meetings with a diverse panel of clinicians, industry leaders, business mentors, designers, and venture capitalists. This intensive series of scheduled activities allowed the GW team to tailor its final design towards the guiding goals of promoting greater affordability, personalization, and actionability within the type 2 diabetes community. In a collaborative effort, they worked day and night to conceptualize a solution that best fit around the need for patients to remain motivated in chronic management of lifestyle. Each day, the team was expected to present additional components of device design, intellectual property, regulatory landscape, and business model to a cohort of judges.

Congratulations to the team for their strong performance throughout the program! We wish you the best start to your senior year and cannot wait to see where this experience takes you!

2019 GW Summer Start-up Accelerator Program Recap

Three George Hacks affiliated teams pitched their ventures in the Showcase and Demo Day on July 18 as they wrapped up their summer program with the GW Summer Startup Accelerator (SSA), a program run by the GW Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

The George Hacks affiliated participants included, our co-founder and former director, Michael Ready, our web developer, Sam Bunger and two former George Hacks participants, Jagan Doodala and Christian Trummer. Their ventures include Vaulted Vinyl, Voxion and WATTerWagon, respectively.

At the Showcase and Demo day, all participants in the SSA were given a chance to pitch ideas to a group of over 20 angel investors and venture capitalists. The 2019 GW Summer Startup Accelerator Investors included Amanda Antico, Founder and CEO at EvolvED, John Burke, Founder at True Ventures, Wayne Chen, Edge Tech – Ventures Director at Booz Allen Hamilton, and many more. The complete list of investors can be found here.

Congratulations to all of the teams for a successful finish to the program and we wish them luck as they proceed with the rest of their future ventures.