George Hacks Fourth Annual Medical Solutions Hackathon Coming Soon!

In less than two weeks George Hacks will host its fourth annual Medical Solutions Hackathon this January 16th-17th, 2021! Our team has been working tirelessly throughout the last few months in order to make this event even more exciting than our last and we can’t wait to see what innovative projects teams will come up with! Here are a few things to look forward to!

In light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the hackathon will be a fully virtual event hosted on Discord and Zoom. Discord will be organized into several servers with channels for participants to navigate throughout the event. Here participants will get a chance to introduce themselves and meet other participants as well! For those without a team, this would be an opportunity for them to potentially meet their other team members that they would want to work with. 

George Hacks is also honored to have Tammy Landeen as our keynote speaker this year. Tammy is an incredible individual that has overcome many obstacles through her determination and grit. She is an Army Veteran and Quality of Life + Challenger who served as a Tactical Power Generation Specialist in the US Army. Unfortunately, after sustaining a severe spinal cord injury in 2002, Tammy was left wheelchair bound. Despite the difficulties she faced, Tammy lives life to the fullest and continues to work with engineers to improve her quality of life everyday. 

In addition to Discord, students will also be able to make introductions  during our pre-hackathon workshops and activities. Led by our George Hacks team members, three workshops and a baking night will be hosted before the hackathon begins. These workshops will be crash courses on a variety of skills, both business and technical, that teams may utilize during the brainstorming and/or pitching stage of the competition. These sessions will be a low stress environment for participants to learn new skills, get to know each other, and ask any questions that they may have. 

During the hackathon, we will also host three other workshops and two more activities for participants to join. For more information on the schedule keep a look out on our Instagram page (@george.hacks) or join our Discord channel! All sessions will be available as recordings to participants to access at any time during the competition. 

New this year, George Hacks is introducing tracks for the first time! Each pitch that we have received has been placed in one of three tracks. Participants will be able to select a track to work on and generate solutions based on the pitches presented within each track! The three tracks are as follows; 

  1. Assistive Technology. Pitches under this track inspire the development of assistive devices and software to aid providers and patients with effective diagnosis and/or rehabilitation.
  2. Telemedicine. Pitches under this track bring awareness to the challenges faced by healthcare providers who wish to shift their medical practice to a remote setting, especially in the face of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
  3. Communication. Pitches under this track motivate solutions to facilitate better communication across the local medical community network so that patients can access care and resources in the most efficient way possible.

These are just some of the things our team has worked on the last few months. There are many more surprises in store so be sure to sign up for the hackathon if you haven’t already! Follow our Instagram for updates and check out our FAQ page if you have any questions. 

George Hacks Receives a Donation from the Neilom Foundation

George Hacks is honored to have received a donation from the Neilon Foundation for our team’s collaborative effort during this pandemic. The donation was specifically given for our work in COVID related projects as well as our virtual engagement with our audience to promote our events and projects. 

The Neilom Foundation was founded in 2013 by GW alumnus Davinder Anand, a Mechanical Engineering Professor Emeritus and Director of the Center of Engineering Concepts Development (CECD) at the University of Maryland, College Park (UMCP). Their mission is “To support a new generation of enthusiastic scientists and engineers creating positive social impact using technology.” 

The foundation supports their mission by fostering a community for engineers and scientists alike for the purpose of creating significant social impact. They do this in one of three ways; 

  1. Each year the Neilom Foundation hosts The Fresh Approach using Science and Technology video competition (FAST) for UMD students
  2. Hiring science and engineering Neilom Interns to work on social impact projects 
  3. “Awarding prizes and fellows to recognize and encourage outstanding contributions.”

Since its establishment, the Neilom Foundation has reached over 11,000 people, of which several individuals have been awarded. Among these awardees were George Hacks Former and Current Directors, Caitlyn Pratt and Karen Rius respectively, both of whom were awarded the Neilom Prize for Social Impact for their work during their undergraduate careers. In addition to individuals, the Neilom Foundation has also awarded 40 grants to Nonprofit organizations, George Hacks being one of them. 

Upon this donation George Hacks would like to thank the Neilson Foundation for their support as well as all of our partners, sponsors, GW faculty, and participants without which we would not have been able to develop into the organization we are now. 

George Hacks Kogan Makerweek 2020 Recap

Two weeks ago, George Hacks hosted Kogan Makerweek 2020 (October 11th-17th)! Traditionally held as our Annual Kogan Makerspace on the George Washington University campus, this year’s event mirrored the virtual learning environment that many students were required to adapt to in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Even through a fully virtual event, our goal was to provide an interactive platform to inspire impact-driven innovation in our community.

So what did our biggest event of the fall semester look like this year? Over the span of a week, our team connected with students through various digital tools in a series of hands-on activities, interactive workshops, and innovation challenges. Each session of programming was geared towards encouraging students to adopt the entrepreneurial “maker mindset” in a fun, engaging, and low-pressure environment, with numerous opportunities to win prizes!

To kick off our Makerweek, we invited Dr. Poh Shen Loh, a math professor at Carnegie Mellon University, to chat with us about his experience as a rising social entrepreneur. As founder of innovative learning platform, Dr. Loh very recently shifted his entrepreneurial focus towards developing NOVID, a COVID-19 application that generates pre-exposure notifications based on contact tracing in social networks. In addition to narrating his story, Dr. Loh generously shared his personal insights and tips for young student entrepreneurs looking to make a change in the world.

After our conversation with Dr. Loh, our event switched gears to bring the makerspace directly to students at home. Through several hands-on activities demoed over Zoom, our team introduced attendees to some of the technical concepts that drive modern innovation, such as basic electronics and energy principles. These follow-along DIY activities included a pen stylus, electric play-doh, a coin battery, a simple motor, a rubber band powered car, and a balloon powered car. Check out some of our student creations from the first day of Kogan Makerweek below!

In each of the subsequent days of Kogan Makerweek, we presented students with a hands-on workshop or innovation challenge. Our three beginner-friendly workshops on 3D modeling, circuits / Arduino, and entrepreneurship each saw fantastic participation from attendees. Featured below are some of the things students were able to make learning a new skill / software for the first time!

In addition to the live sessions, our team was also thrilled to see the creative solutions to the various innovation challenges that we released throughout the week! Showcased here are (left) a makeshift boat constructed from cardboard and duct tape and (right) a custom mailing label for George Hacks!

To wrap up Kogan Makerweek, our team reviewed an outstanding portfolio of student submissions for each of our prize opportunities! Congratulations to the following prize winners:

  • 3D Modeling Workshop Raffle
    • 3D Pen Kit: Yahaira Torres & Jerome Thompson
  • 3D Modeling Workshop Best Design
    • Roku Streaming Stick: Jerome Thompson
  • Circuits / Arduino Workshop Raffle
    • Belkin Smartphone Charger: Brittany Underwood & Sarah Coloma
  • Circuits / Arduino Workshop Best Design
    • Arduino Uno Starter Kit: Jerome Thompson
  • Entrepreneurship Workshop Raffle
    • Tile Pro Stickers: Ban Shoukeir & Cordelia Scales
  • Scavenger Hunt Random Drawing
    • $95 Allbirds Digital Gift Card: Brittany Underwood
  • Makerweek Challenge #1: Makeshift Boat
    • AboveTEK Laptop Desk: Brittany Underwood
  • Makerweek Challenge #2: Address Label
    • Amazon All-New Echo Dot: Sarah Coloma
  • Social Media Trivia Questions
    • $5 Gift Cards: Jillian Adams, Ban Shoukeir, Isaiah Perantes, Sarah Coloma, Cordelia Scales, Gabi Petrillo, and Justina Pruski

Coming soon: Our next big event will be our Fourth Annual Medical Solutions Hackathon to be hosted January 23rd-24th, 2021. Be sure to be on the lookout for more information about how we’re planning to adapt our flagship medical hackathon into a virtual event!

George Hacks Founder, Konstantin Mitic, Launches COVID Mali

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected millions of people worldwide and left several communities devastated. In response, numerous organizations and teams have emerged to assist first responders combat the spread of disease. Such groups aim to educate and / or equip communities with the tools to stay safe with guidance on good handwashing techniques, physical distancing, and usage of face masks and other PPE. For developing countries, COVID-19 related risks have been more pronounced due to larger population densities, fewer resources, and lower capacity hospitals. Delivering assistance to those areas has thus been especially challenging.

In Mali, the first COVID-19 case was confirmed in late March. Since then, the number of confirmed cases has risen to 2,577. According to UNICEF, over half of the positive COVID-19 cases in the country reside in the capital city, Bamako, prompting the CDC to label the nation as a level 3 (high) risk.

To assist communities in Mali during the pandemic, George Hacks Founder Konstantin Mitic launched COVID Mali. Consisting of “a consortium of skilled professionals in and outside of Bamako working to prevent and slow the transmission of the novel Coronavirus in Mali,” the startup strives to produce and distribute effective PPE to healthcare workers and people of Mali who are vulnerable to the disease. 

Over the last few months, COVID Mali has developed prototypes for several types of personal protection equipment (PPE), such as gowns, face shields, 3D printed reporators equivalent to the N95, touchless thermometers, and reusable masks. Once these prototypes have been confirmed by healthcare professionals as viable products, they will work to scale up manufacturing of the items to supply the masses.

For his efforts in establishing COVID Mali, Konstantin was awarded the COVID-19 Student Action Fund by the Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U). The award seeks to identify and support “select students at universities around the world who are committed to address the COVID-19 pandemic,” providing between $2,000 to $5,000 to each awardee. Although the foundation received more than 1,400 applications, only 38 recipients were selected. Along with other awardees, Konstantin will be invited to participate in the CGI U 2021 program and attend CGI U 2021 annual event at the University of Edinburgh.

Read more about COVID Mali’s impact on their website!

George Hacks Responds to COVID-19 Needs

During the worldwide pandemic known as COVID-19, many organizations across the GW campus have assumed a role to help the local DC community combat the crisis. Several interdisciplinary groups have teamed up with first responders to ideate innovative solutions ranging from 3D printing PPE to designing informative websites. Surpassing the ambition of these initiatives is the ability for project teams to collaboratively create these impactful designs with limited in-person contact. Some of these teams, in fact, have never met in person. 

Several GW students and faculty have been actively working on fabricating 3D printed masks and face shields for medical personnel. This project emerged as a response to the shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) that numerous health care facilities across the nation have been facing. As more people test positive in recent months, the demand for PPE has significantly increased across hospitals across the world. When the GW Hospital experienced such a shortage, members from the GW School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS), GW Hospital, GW Innovation Center (GWIC), George Hacks, and others pooled resources to work on addressing the need. Leading the 3D printing farm is Mr. Huckenpahler, a digital lab professor from the GW Corcoran School of Art and Design, who along with his team was able to  “produce 200 face shields for GW Hospital staff in just under a week” according to an article by GW Today. This monumental task was achieved by twelve 3D printers provided by the GW Corcoran School of the Arts & Design along with an additional six owned by George Hacks and GWIC.  

The same article mentions two other projects that students and faculty are working on to assist first responders. One of these projects is the production of N95 comparable respirators with “removable and replaceable units, some of which can be sanitized and reused unlike most N95 respirators.” This design was approved by the hospital’s own quality tests and is now being standardized, scaled to different sizes, and manufactured in bulk.

Another team of students and faculty led by David Lee and Carl Wick, former SEAS professors, is developing a touch-less hospital screening system. Their kiosk design provides a foot-pedal answering system for pre-screening questionnaires and allows one’s temperature to be measured from a distance, appropriately sending staff to the correct waiting areas. Doing so facilitates separation between people with and without fevers in order to vet those who are most likely to test positive for COVID-19.

Team members on this project include George Hacks Co-Founders, Konstantin Mitic and Caitlyn Pratt; former Technical Director, Matt Taylor; and George Hacks Director Karen Rius. With most of the GW campus closed down to the public, Matt transported the project to his apartment located only a few blocks from the GW Hospital. There he created a full workshop in his lounge, allowing him to seamlessly continue contributing to the kiosk project. His proximity to the hospital also provided Matt the convenience to test the kiosk on volunteers in person. Hence, he was able to observe and fix calibration errors in the thermometer before finalizing the systems. 

Aside from the shortage of PPE and lack of contact-free hospital screening methods, another issue that has drastically impacted the work environment of all medical professionals is the lack of a single compilation of latest COVID-19 medical and public health information relevant to their roles as first responders. In response to this need, Jordan Selzer of the GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences Lance Hoffman, a GW computer science professor, recruited a group of SEAS and George Hacks students to design a website named Disaster Consult. According to another GW Today article, this website aims to “give care providers quick, digestible information about best practices in the face of various emergencies,” which is especially valuable for small medical facilities in rural areas at risk of being flooded with numerous patients in a short time. As these types of hospitals typically lack a trauma center, staff with specialized disaster training, and a protocol for dealing with large numbers of patients,  it is imperative they have access to reliable updates on the evolving pandemic without having to digest lengthy academic papers.

After the website design had been finalized, more than 50 third and fourth year medical student volunteers, who were unable to conduct their usual hospital rounds due to restrictions imposed by the pandemic, redirected their time towards compiling the content for the website. The tremendous assistance provided by these students allowed the website to be fully functional in under a month. Of course, the website is constantly undergoing development and improvement. Possible translation to a mobile application is expected.

George Hacks is proud to continue supporting the GW community in its endeavors to combat COVID-19. To get involved in some of these initiatives, visit the ‘Projects’ page of our website, or feel free to contact us with questions.

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!

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 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.

Read More

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.