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First Interprofessional Student Health Hack Launched

Health Hack Sticker

Fitzpatrick College of Nursing (FCN) faculty and students unofficially kicked off the spring semester with a blast of collaborative creativity January 14-16 during the inaugural Villanova Health Hack 2021. Held during break, the event was hosted by Villanova’s Innovation, Creativity and Entrepreneurship (ICE) Institute with innovation experts at Independence Blue Cross (IBX). FCN was a major proponent and prize funder of the hack, as well as a co-sponsor and planner of the event with the other colleges and schools on campus. Nursing students - freshmen through graduate students – contributed from their respective home bases around the country their experience and insights to bring outstanding ideas to light in solving big problems surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.   

Students learned from experts about the sequence of design thinking, design research, how to use an online visual collaboration tool, prototyping and testing. Assistant Professor Sunny Hallowell, PhD, PPCNP-BC, IBCLC delivered an introduction to innovation with examples of her own work exploring virtual reality, gaming, and medical devices for newborns.  Donna Havens, PhD, RN, FAAN, Connelly Endowed Dean and Professor; Evie Lengetti, PhD, RN-BC, assistant dean for Continuing Education, Dr. Hallowell and Ann McKenzie, MSN RN, director of College Relations, were involved in the planning, recruitment, group advising, and judging of the event.  

Those students attending worked with fellow Villanova students from other disciplines to solve COVID-19-related problems across 5 categories.

Villanova Nurses were on each of the 6 teams. Judging was challenging as each final concept was creative in its design and presentation. Three teams (below) won prizes.

Junior Matthew Tan, who enjoyed his freshman experience in an ICE Challenge, was on a team with three business students. “It was interesting to see how we connected given our different backgrounds and were able to create a solution that was inclusive of all our experiences. I also enjoyed getting to know my teammates outside of the hackathon,” he explains. Their project “CountMeIn” - which helps workers manage occupancy in buildings – took 3rd place and a $500 prize. He hopes they do more with the concept. In terms of lessons learned, Matthew says, “Ideas change. We scrapped our first idea because it had an unpopular outlook from various interviews, so it is important to innovate ideas based on what the people want.”

Senior Mary Wright joined the hack because she wanted to "learn about design innovation and build her creativity and teamwork skills." She was joined by Lindsey Hassinger,  a graduate student in nursing education, as well as students studying computer science, chemistry and electrical engineering. Their group invented the Theia Sanitation System, a system to prevent PPE shortages and decrease PPE waste. “I learned that interviews and research are crucial to keep the user’s experience at the forefront during the design process,” offers Mary. Her favorite moments? She notes, “The thing I enjoyed most was brainstorming with my team about how we could improve our product, and reflecting on all the changes we made along the way. A close second was hearing everyone else’s innovations during the presentation time on the last day.” 

The hack is planned to be an annual event. 

The interprofessional prize-winning teams were: 

$500 3rd Prize – Team Count Me In (managing limited occupancy in buildings)

·       Dennis Cherian, ’21 VSB - Undergraduate in Finance

·       Binti Kohli, ’22 VSB – Undergraduate in Finance & International Business

·       Matthew Tan, ’22 FCN – Undergraduate in Nursing

·       Megan Kempf, ’22 VSB – Undergraduate in Finance & Business Analytics


$1000 2nd Prize – Team COVID Clear (community-based service to encourage vaccination among a vulnerable population)

·       Elizabeth Larsen, COE – Masters in Sustainable Engineering

·       Naomi Tegene, ’23 FCN – Undergraduate in Nursing

·       Viviana Villavicencio, COE – Masters in Electrical Engineering

·       Brandon Nash, ’21 VSB – Undergraduate in Applied Quantitative Finance & International Business  


$2000 1st Prize – Team Theia Sanitation System (system to prevent PPE shortages and decrease PPE waste)

·       Lindsey Hassinger, FCN – Masters in Nursing Education

·       Nicholas Florio, COE – Masters in Electrical Engineering

·       Diana Hume-Rivers, ’24 CLAS – Undergraduate in Chemistry

·       Mary Wright, ’21 FCN – Undergraduate in Nursing

·       Shiyu Su, ’21 CLAS – Undergraduate in Computer Science