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Work in Progress: Novel Initiatives for Senior Design Collaborative Projects With Healthcare Workers and Undergraduate Students—a COVID-19 Response Nursing Hackathon

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2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Biomedical Engineering Postcard Session (Best of Works in Progress)

Tagged Division

Biomedical Engineering

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Paper Authors


Christine E. King University of California, Irvine

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Dr. Christine King is an Assistant Teaching Professor of Biomedical Engineering at UC Irvine. She received her BS and MS from Manhattan College in Mechanical Engineering and her PhD in Biomedical Engineering from UC Irvine, where she developed brain-computer interface systems for neurorehabilitation. She was a post-doctorate in the Wireless Health Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles, and a research manager in the Center for SMART Health, where she focused on wireless health monitoring for stroke and pediatric asthma. Her current research is on engineering education, specializing in pedagogy strategies to promote learning in design-build-test courses, including senior design, computer programming, and computer-aided-design courses.

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George Tolomiczenko Caltech

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Dr. Tolomiczenko serves as Executive Director of the Merkin Institute for Translational Research at Caltech. His interdisciplinary experience as a clinician, researcher, professor and administrator jointly inform his inclusive approach toward fostering cultures of innovation and entrepreneurship conducive to stakeholders aiming to translate ideas into products that improve health and healthcare delivery. Breakthroughs in science and engineering at Caltech are legendary - and numerous. Translating these research advances to improve healthcare requires breaking through barriers and adaptive tailoring to sustainably address needs and solve problems. At Caltech, Dr. Tolomiczenko works with a diverse set of internal and external stakeholders to foster collaborations that will result in new paths to cures and improved access to affordable, high-quality healthcare.

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Nadine B. Afari CHOC Children's Health Orange County

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Nadine Afari MSc, Manager of Research Programs, CHOC Children's Health Orange County and the University of California, Irvine (UCI)

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Nurses are uniquely positioned to identify opportunities to improve systems of care delivery but are often underrepresented in medical innovation initiatives. Furthermore, although healthcare hackathons have gained traction over the past decade as a successful innovation tool to tackle modern healthcare problems, there remains a lack of events that allow undergraduate students in different STEM fields to work directly with healthcare professionals to develop innovative solutions for healthcare problems. As a result, the University of California Irvine’s (UCI) School of Engineering’s and UCI School of Information and Computer Science’s senior design programs co-hosted a COVID-19 Response Nurse Hackathon event with the Children’s Hospital of Orange County’s Medical Innovation Institute. The full-day virtual event tackled current topics related to the COVID-19 pandemic, such as school reintegration, remote work and work reintegration, pediatric mental health, telenursing, telemedicine/remote care, safe access to families seeking care, and ensuring healthcare workers feel safe to provide care. The 12-hour event began with an introductory lecture regarding the biodesign process, then grouped students and healthcare workers into multidisciplinary teams based on their healthcare topic of interest. The teams then identified the problem, generated a solution, and generated a business and engineering plan to execute their solution. At the end of the event, each team gave a short presentation about their problem and solution and received feedback from a panel of judges. Those projects that were scored highest in terms of impact, innovation, marketability, and usability/intuitiveness were followed up with by the Innovation Institute and senior design programs to continue the projects through their respective senior design programs. Over 50 people attended the event, including 11 healthcare workers and 28 undergraduate students who participated as contestants. A total of 13 teams presented innovative healthcare solutions, and seven of these teams continued the project through the senior design programs. A survey was sent to all participants to determine whether the event stimulated creativity and discussion, and whether they would attend again in the following years. For those projects that continued beyond the hackathon even through the senior design programs, pre- and post- surveys were provided to all team members to assess whether the ideas generated from the hackathon created any viable healthcare solutions. Viability of the solution is currently being assessed by determining the status of intellectual property (IP) filing and fundraising accomplished because of the project. After following the seven teams that continued the project through the senior design programs, it was found that three teams completed their project in the Information and Computer Science senior design program, and four teams completed their project in the Department of Biomedical Engineering’s senior design program. Since these courses are ongoing, the results of pre- and post- surveys, the project’s resulting patent filings, and their commercialization potential, have yet to be evaluated, as these projects will be completed in the Spring of 2021. If these projects become viable products, the authors recommend adopting virtual nursing hackathon events prior to senior design programs to improve innovation and collaboration in healthcare.

King, C. E., & Tolomiczenko, G., & Afari, N. B. (2021, July), Work in Progress: Novel Initiatives for Senior Design Collaborative Projects With Healthcare Workers and Undergraduate Students—a COVID-19 Response Nursing Hackathon Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. 10.18260/1-2--38184

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