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Johns Hopkins to host weekend of med-tech innovation, inspiration

September 8, 2017

About 500 students and entrepreneurs will be hacking through the weekend at Johns Hopkins, brainstorming new med-tech innovations for the third annual MedHacks event.

Participants from a variety of locales and institutions will cluster into teams for the 36-hour marathon of writing code, creating apps, and building prototypes for new medical devices. This year they’re vying for an expanded array for prizes that includes mentoring from three MedHacks sponsors.

Also new this year is the location, which shifts from the university’s Homewood campus to the Turner Auditorium at Johns Hopkins’ East Baltimore campus to accommodate a larger group than in previous years, according to MedHacks outreach director Sabin Karki.

The student-run hackathon kicks off Friday evening with keynote speeches from Benjamin Jealous, former NAACP president and now venture capitalist and Maryland gubernatorial candidate; along with Peter Pronovost, founder and director of the Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality at Johns Hopkins.

MedHacks—modeled after HopHacks, a student-led hackathon that debuted at Hopkins in 2013—tasks teams with coming up with technological solutions for pressing health challenges. Participants “learn together, design together, eat together, and code together,” the event description says.

The busy weekend will also include Saturday workshops on coding, app development, and startup growth, including one from Johns Hopkins Tech Ventures introducing its new FastFoward U services for student entrepreneurs. An Apple-style “genius bar” will offer mentors on hand, and the hackers will have access to technology that includes virtual reality gear, Amazon Echoes, and Arduino 101 maker boards.

Karki, a JHU biomedical engineering student, said about half of the 2017 participants are affiliated with Johns Hopkins. Others hail from a range of institutions—including MIT, the University of Waterloo, and the University of California, Berkeley—and geographic locations as far as Iceland. He said the competition drew more than 3,000 applications this year.

Excerpted from The Hub.

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