Engineers, scientists, inventors and creators with an entrepreneurial spirit and a passion for developing health-care solutions are encouraged to participate in the 2022 UNM Clinical & Transitional Science Center (CTSC) Health Hackathon, planned at The University of New Mexico in March.

The event, which will be held at the Domenici Center for Health Sciences Education North Wing, 1001 Stanford Drive NE, Albuquerque, will take place March 25-27. Registration is now open. Click here to register.

Proof of vaccination will be required, and the event will follow public-health orders, which currently require mask-wearing. Organizers say the event could be held virtually if conditions warrant.

Teams made up of five to eight participants will present perplexing health-care problems, then strategize to develop novel solutions. Materials will be provided, including computers, microprocessors (Arduino and Raspberry Pi devices), 3-D printers and various art supplies for modeling.

Christina Salas.
Courtesy of UNM Health Sciences Center

The Health Hackathon is intended to design and develop unique, marketable solutions that address pressing health-care challenges, said Christina Salas, an associate professor in the UNM Department of Orthopaedics & Rehabilitation.

“This is an intense but fun event that provides students with a great experience in the process of design thinking and working with a team to bring a marketable idea to fruition,” she said. “It is always fascinating to see all the amazing ideas that are brought to competition from so many disciplines, while at the same time providing students with real-life biodesign experience.”

Participants include undergraduate and graduate students, as well as faculty and community members. Participants need not have a team to participate.

At the event, everyone will have the opportunity to form teams based on skill-sets and interests, Salas said.

After formulating their solutions, teams will pitch their ideas to a panel of judges, competing for a chance to apply for National Institutes of Health pilot grants of up to $10,000 to help commercialize the technology. In order to apply for grant funding, each team must have a UNM Health Sciences faculty member on the proposal.

The last time the event was held, in 2020, seven teams (more than 80 participants in total) were registered. The winning ideas included an asthma smart inhaler device that attaches to a traditional spacer to provide enhanced medication delivery, and a software-based system that uses QR codes to help visitors navigate their way around a hospital.

In addition to the CTSC, Hackathon is sponsored by ASCEND HUB, UNM Rainforest Innovations, School of Engineering, College of Pharmacy, College of Nursing and Anderson School of Management.

New this year is a Hackathon Jumpstart event, which will be held Feb. 23 from 5:30-7 p.m. at UNM Rainforest Innovations, 101 Broadway NE. The event will provide information about the Hackathon and how to pitch business ideas, as well as a presentation on the process of design thinking presented by Nancy Lewis, director of The Canopy for Creative Collaboration at the UNM Innovation Academy.

Hackathon participants are not required to attend the Jumpstart event, but it is strongly recommended. Click here to register.

Refreshments will be provided, and proof of vaccination and masks will be required. As with the Hackathon, the event may be held virtually depending upon the public health orders at the time.

For more information about Hackathon or the Jumpstart events, contact Melanie Hazlett at CTSC at mhazlett@salud.unm.edu.