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!

Meet the 2020-2021 Team!

Meet our new team! Recently, we have begun preparing for the fall semester so be sure to stay tuned for everything we have planned for the upcoming year! Follow us on Instagram and Facebook to stay up-to-date on the latest George Hacks news and email us to subscribe to our monthly newsletters!

Lets meet the team!

We are proud to share that amid the coronavirus pandemic, several of our new team members participated in COVID-19 projects to ideate innovative solutions to problems faced by healthcare professionals in our community. If you missed our blog post on COVID-19 projects, read it here and visit out our Projects Page to see how you can get involved!

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.

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.

Meet the 2019-2020 Team!

Our team is growing! Our new George Hacks 2019-2020 team has been working hard this summer, and we can’t wait to get this fall semester started! We’ve got some exciting events coming up this semester, and, of course, stay tuned for more info about our 3rd Annual Medical Solutions Hackathon on January 25th-26th! Follow us on Instagram and Facebook to stay up to date on the latest George Hacks upcoming news.

Alright then! Let’s meet some of the faces behind our operations!

Congrats to the George Hacks affiliated teams accepted into the 2019 GW Summer Start-up Accelerator Cohort!

The GW Summer Start-up Accelerator (GWSSA), run by the GW Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, is the accelerator for top student startups at the George Washington University. This 9-week summer program engages student entrepreneurs who want to develop a startup venture. The program provides the students with funding, mentorship, and resources.

Three George Hacks affiliated teams were accepted into this intensive program. We are so proud of all their hard work and with them the best of luck this summer!

Our co-founder and former director, Michael Ready, is a member of Vaulted Vinyl, the Premium POP! Vinyl Protection Company, which offers top-tier protection for Funko Pops all over the world.

Sam Bunger, our 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.

Two former George Hacks participants, Jagan Doodala and Christian Trummer, are the founders of WATTerWagon, which increases water carrying capacity and eliminates strenuous labor for hundreds of millions living in rural water-scarce regions.

The GW Summer Startup Accelerator (SSA) will hold its Showcase and Demo Day on July 18, 2019 in Duques Hall on the Foggy Bottom campus of the George Washington University. We’re excited to see how they all progress!

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)