A team of four women called Wengineers, from the University of Rhode Island, took first place in the 2018 Health Hacks Rhode Island competition. This competition was hosted by the URI College of Engineering and had numerous sponsors such as Johnson and Johnson, Delsys and Brown University.
The event organized teams of developers and hardware designers to brainstorm and build solutions or working prototypes for mobility health issues over the course of a weekend.
The winning team consisted of a combination of biomedical engineering and computer science majors namely Keira Mantyla, Lexie Dunzee, Kate O’Rourke and Evelyn Livant. They developed a system of sensors that detect changes in pressure, and as a result, they can move the affected person to prevent sores. The team won a prize of $1,000 for coming in first place.
“We needed to come up with a solution for a problem that was really persistent among people,” Dunzee, a junior biomedical engineering major said.
The runner-up team They created an app that links a personal heartbeat monitor to help cope with panic attacks. The team was also from URI and won $500.
“I have nine years experience in software developing and rapid development experience over weekends from my volunteering work,” Livant, a computer science major said. “I took the experience with me to hardware instead of software. In addition to having a working prototype, we were put through professional pitch coaching to pitch the ideas to the heads of the industries to sell the product.”
The winners were recommended to obtain a patent for their idea and prototype.
“The judges chose us for how different our idea was from the rest so we wanted to get a patent for the product,” Livant said. “Unfortunately, we researched it and found that it was not possible. This idea was already patented by another organization.”
A total of 12 teams competed in this competition, including top schools such as Johnson and Wales University, the University of Massachusetts, Brown University and Dartmouth College.
“We had Johnson and Johnson, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, the National Science Foundation and some of the heads from major industries judging us,” Livant said. “I turned up to work with the hardware girls, gain experience, put it on my resume and leave. I knew it was a competition, but with schools like Brown turning in, I didn’t expect to win. Even though we all had different backgrounds and experience, our team dynamics, fortunately, worked out. Everyone was a solid contributor.”
This is the first time a team of all women won first place in Health Hacks RI.
“This kind of accomplishment is personally rewarding. This means a much better future is ahead,” Dunzee said.