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Home Applied Research and Innovation Blog 2019 July 23 Students Tackle Medical Challenges at Hackathon

Students Tackle Medical Challenges at Hackathon


WIMTACH continues to lead the digital health industry towards innovative solutions with its hackathon events.
From July 3-4, of over 20 students from various Centennial College programs gathered in the Fireside Gallery to take on two challenges presented by Dr. Jon Hummel, interim Chief Surgeon of the Scarborough Health Network in collaboration with WIMTACH, Intellijoint and OrthoBiomed, an industry partner since 2018.

“This is my first time being involved in such an event,” said Saeid Samiezadeh of OrthoBiomed. “I really like this event so far. I see that students are actively involved. We didn’t expect that, especially given the fact that these students don’t come from a medical background! Most of them are engineering students.”

Samiezadeh further explained that the value of hackathons is being able to see an idea become a solution and useful in an industry. Centennial College is committed to students gaining knowledge beyond the classroom and contributing positively to their respective industries. It’s irreplaceable experience that’s rooted in the real world.

The first challenge was to design a tool to precisely determine the length and angle of the neck and femur in the total hip arthroplasty (THA), a procedure for patients who require a hip replacement surgery.
The second challenge was to design a tool to achieve alignment between the femur and the axis of the leg without a big incision in unicompartmental knee arthroplasty (UKA), a surgical procedure that is performed to relieve arthritis in the knees. To make the winning prototype, each group had to think outside of the box to develop a robust solution that stood out from the competition.
The hackathon challenges were born out of the difficulties orthopaedic surgeons often face in operating rooms, including a lack of surgical tools. Sponsored by OrthoBiomed Inc., the hackathon is an opportunity for industry partners [names] in the medical industry to witness a new pool of Centennial College talent find a solution in real-time.

“There are issues that we deal with [as surgeons] that these students will have amazing insight into, and I think it’s wonderful,” explained Dr. Hummel in an interview.

Access to these solutions are invaluable, especially for small to medium-sized businesses that may not have the resources to develop them in-house. Jim Hasnain of exactMed, a WIMTACH industry partner, describes the opportunities hackathons provide to companies:
For us, we are actually students also because the problem may be very new. It gives us a window into the way people are thinking and put our two sense out. It’s very motivating and encouraging for us to see that such people are here. It also helps us down the road when we’re looking for new talent to hire to our companies.  
Each group was given the chance to consult with esteemed guests and judges to ensure that they were on the right track. For Karla Garza of Intellijoint, the talent of the students was apparent through conversations with them: “I’ve been talking to students and they’ve been asking me questions about my role, I’ve been telling them some tips and what to look for [in my industry]. The whole structure of this hackathon is really well laid out.”
After six group presentations, six question periods and careful deliberation by the panel of esteemed judges the judges came to a conclusion:
Group 6 – Pranav Mehul Mehta, Abhiraj Singh, Aseespal Singh, Hit Desai and Vyas Dhruv – won first place in the hackathon.

Even though his group didn’t win, Patel Kush, a first-time hackathon participant, considers the experience valuable for the future. “After my graduation, I’m going to work in the designing field, so it’s important that I know what the doctors, customers want.”
Hackathons are more than just competitions. They’re opportunities for students to apply what they’ve learned in a collaborative way, and they allow both students and companies to gain deeper insight into the challenges industries are currently facing. In that regard, everyone is always a winner at a WIMTACH hackathon.

Mechanical engineering student Venetia Chan says that hackathons give students an opportunity to learn about real-world problems first-hand. “Now that we have exposure to these kinds of issues, it kind of gets the ball rolling in your head because the possibilities are endless. It inspires people.”
The next hackathon will be in late July/early August. To receive details, please subscribe to WIMTACH’s newsletter.