Interdisciplinary Student Teams Tackle Pediatric Challenges in Healthcare Hackathon

Interdisciplinary Student Teams Tackle Pediatric Challenges in Healthcare Hackathon

Brandon Howard

BENTONVILLE, Ark. – With real-world problems from pediatric doctors, a student team’s proposal to improve a harness for babies born with a hip abnormality earned $1,000 in a healthcare hackathon organized by the US of A Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation its Northwest Arkansas Biodesign Sprints Program.

“Over the weekend I was able to have fun, get hands-on experience solving problems in healthcare and network with amazing people,” said Jenna Kempkes, a junior in the Honors College of Engineering.

“But the best part is knowing that the work we did could have real impacts on the lives of children and their parents.”

Focused on brainstorming and designing medical devices, the hackathon followed “Challenge Sprints” led by OEI, the College of Engineering and HealthTech Arkansas to identify as many problems and challenges as possible in the healthcare field.

The challenges were reviewed and curated for teams to problem solve at the hackathon, which paired interdisciplinary student teams with clinicians from Arkansas Children’s Hospitals. The hackathon was held over a 48-hour period from November 11-13 at the US of A Collaborative in Bentonville. The winning teams received between $250-$1,000 and were judged by a panel of medical doctors and innovators in the healthcare industry.

Kempkes said the hackathon’s interdisciplinary focus was critical to her team’s innovations.

Also Read :  Dow Jones Futures Await Fed's Favorite Inflation Report; Tesla Rises On Elon Musk Pledge

“I don’t think we could have fully understood the problem without the unique background of each member group,” she said.

The students’ ingenuity, produced on a tight deadline, impressed Dr. Abdullah R. Dalabih, a pediatric critical care medicine physician at Arkansas Children’s.

“This is my first time coming here, and it’s absolutely amazing,” Dalabih said. “In two days you solved problems that have literally been here for decades… You contributed immensely to the field, and I would love it if you continued to do what you’re doing and keep thinking ahead.”

Launched in March 2022, Northwest Arkansas Biodesign Sprints is a program in the Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation that emerged from a partnership between the university’s Department of Biomedical Engineering, HealthTech Arkansas and four major regional healthcare systems.

Funded by a grant from the Walton Family Foundation, NWA Biodesign Sprints is the second of three verticals (the first is outdoor recreation and the third is digital products) planned for the Greenhouse, the Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation’s Product and business incubator located in the collaboration.

The Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation and its partners plan to hold similar hackathons in the spring semester, although no dates have been set. Students interested in participating should email [email protected] for more information.

Also Read :  Minimum wage is going up in 23 states. Here's where to expect increase


  • $1,000 – Emma Herman, sophomore, data science; Jenna Kempkes, junior, Honors College of Engineering; Danny Santillan, Junior, College of ​​Engineering

    • Infants born with hip dysplasia often wear a corrective harness to aid normal development. The current standard, the Wheaton Pavlik Harness, has complaints from parents about usability and injuries to their child’s skin. The team reimagined the device to include color-coded sizing straps and revamped the material to be more eco-friendly and comfortable for the baby.

  • $500 — Fan Bo, Ph.D., College of Engineering; Ngoc Childress, senior, Fulbright College; Clair Dildy, senior, College of ​​Engineering; John Steward, junior, Honors College of Engineering

    • Confirmation of central venous catheter (CVC) placement is a challenge facing emergency personnel in hospitals, with misplacement potentially causing severe injury or death. The team proposed an innovative method to show the distinct electrical signals indicated by arteries and veins, so that a doctor can easily read them, thus improving the accuracy, rapidity and cost of CVC placement in emergency settings.

  • $250 – Nathaniel Liu, sophomore, Honors College of Engineering; Emilio Murillo, sophomore, Fulbright College of Arts & Sciences; Kya Novack-Williams, Freshman, College of ​​Engineering; Kenyo Ong, Freshman, Fulbright College; Julliana Renales, senior, Honors College of Engineering

    • Urodynamic tests are time-consuming, expensive, measure limited data and must be performed in a clinical setting. The team proposed the idea of ​​mobilizing the technology through a cost-effective belt that can be worn outside the clinic, allowing the wearer to resume normal activity during testing periods and to collect more dynamic data.


  • Barry Brady, Chief Operating Officer, Arkansas Children’s Research Institute
  • Dr. Sina Dadgar, Director of Instrumentation, NOWDx
  • Dr. Tara Johnson, Pediatric Neurologist, Arkansas Children’s Hospital
  • Spencer Jones, Chief Technology Officer and Vice President of Sales, Lapovations
  • Dr. Lauren K. Poindexter, sports medicine physician, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences

About the US Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation:The Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation creates and curates innovation and entrepreneurship experiences for students in all disciplines. Through the Brewer Family Entrepreneurship Hub, McMillon Innovation Studio, Startup Village and Greenhouse at the Bentonville Collaborative, OEI provides free workshops and programs – including social and corporate innovation design teams, venture internships, competitions and startup coaching. A unit of the Sam M. Walton College of Business and Division of Economic Development, OEI also offers on-demand support for students who will be innovators in existing organizations and entrepreneurs who are starting something new.


Also Read :  When to get Peppermint Mocha, more

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Articles

Back to top button