2018 Challenges in Assistive Technology and Prosthetics

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What is HealthHacks?

A medical hackathon is similar in structure to a traditional “hackathon,” however the focus is on solving medical unmet needs through any means, from programming to rapid prototyping or developing flow processes—it's up to you! This is the third year of HealthHacks, VCU's annual medical hackathon, which will take place on Nov. 3-4, 2018 at VCU’s Monroe Park Campus in the East Engineering Building. It is a 24-hour period of intense innovation and problem-solving.

Note: Participant registration for HealthHacks will close Oct. 19, 2018.

The theme of this year's HealthHacks is Assistive Technology and Prosthetics

The theme of Assistive Technology and Prosthetics explores the needs and challenges for assistive technology devices (i.e. communication devices, powered mobility, computer access, smart technology access, home automation, cognitive devices), prosthetics and mental health supports. HealthHacks ’18 demonstrates the value of rapid prototyping and co-creation with a diverse set of students (engineering, business, design, health professions and medicine) to develop personalized rehabilitation technologies that have the potential for impacting, not just one veteran, but veterans across the Veterans Health Administration.

Students participating in HealthHacks ’18 will have the opportunity to learn firsthand from veterans about veteran culture, their experiences and daily challenges. In addition, the students will receive input and feedback inspiring potential solutions. Rehabilitation technologies have an enormous impact on our veterans’ daily needs. However, many areas of assistive technology and prosthetics have limited or outdated solutions, and rehabilitation providers have to improvise to meet veterans’ needs.

The problems will focus on three major categories:

Product Design and Improvements




Students will form in interdisciplinary groups of up to four, and by the end of the 24-hour period will have a concrete solution, whether it be a rapid prototype, a solidworks 3D design or a new phone app … the options are endless. 

Read the press release about the event and watch a video from last year:


Have an idea for a solution to a medical problem?  Bring it.  Assemble a team while at HealthHacks and devote the hackathon to finally developing the solution.  Don't have an idea?  Come and be challenged by problems pitched from patients, medical doctors, clinicians, and biomedical engineers. Note that by attending this event, you agree to the MLH Code of Conduct (.PDF).

 In Partnership with
MLH logo image

What is Rapid Prototyping?

At HealthHacks, our motto is aligned with VCU's "Make it Real". If a team chooses to conquer product design, hospital throughput, or patient experience, each team will end the hackathon with a concrete prototype in some form, whether it be physical foam, 3D printed plastic, manipulation of an existing provided device, a new phone app, or a program. We will have mentors from all fields: engineering to medicine to industry, helping guide teams to develop their solutions.

Schedule (tentative)

Saturday - November 3

9:00 am - Registration and Breakfast
9:45 am - Opening Ceremony and Problem Pitching
11:00 am - Lunch and Brainstorming
11:30 am - Solution Pitching and Team Formation
12:00 pm - Meet with Mentor and Start Hacking
6:00 pm - Dinner
6:15 pm - Tech Talk

Sunday - November 4

12:00 am - Midnight Snack
6:30 am - Coffee and Early Bird Breakfast
8:30 am - Breakfast
9:00 am - Morning Workshop
11:45 am - Submissions Due and Hacking Ends
12:00 pm - Sponsor Fair and Networking Lunch
1:00 pm - Preliminary Judging
2:15 pm - Final Judging Round
3:30 pm - Awards and Closing Ceremony

Frequently Asked Questions

Who can participate?

Attendees must be an undergraduate or graduate student enrolled in a college or university, and must agree to the MLH Code of Conduct

Do I need to know how to code?

Nope! Medical innovation relies heavily on interdisciplinary collaboration, so students from all disciplines are welcome. In fact, the skills of an art, business, or medical student can really help your team’s work stand out from the crowd.

Is this a team event?

Yes. Either build your own team, or come meet students from a variety of fields and we’ll help you find a team that can utilize your skills. Teams should have no more than 4 people

Will event transportation be available?

No. Please provide your own transportation.

Will we be working the whole time?

Nope! Come have fun with similarly-minded people! We have several food breaks that highlight some of Richmond’s best cuisine, and we’ll have games and cool new tech to mess around with when you need a break from work! Additionally, there will be physician lectures throughout the event that will include cool clinical cases, as well as a student workshop on Saturday night with an engineering/design focus

What do I need to bring to the event?

Don't forget a valid ID and a sleeping bag if you are planning to stay overnight. If you have hacking equipment, feel free to bring it.

What if I don't have hardware?

Hardware will be available to rent for the weekend.  Mentors will be available for technical guidance and to troubleshoot.  Come to HealthHacks especially if you don't know anything about hardware or 3D printing and want to learn!


HealthHacks would not exist without great sponsors. The event is an excellent opportunity to connect with and evaluate talent. You’ll see how the next generation of leaders can scope and creatively solve problems under pressure.

Sponsorship Levels:


Event Co-Host and Keynote Speaker

  • Top T-shirt logo placement
  • Keynote speech
  • Have a dinner named after your company (Limited to 1)*

Includes all the benefits of the silver, bronze and supporter packages.


Tutorial Sessions and Tech Talks

  • Give a tech talk
  • Priority T-shirt logo placement
  • Have a lunch named after your company (Limited to 2)*

Includes all the benefits of the bronze and supporter packages.


Create a Challenge

  • Rep & booth at the event
  • Access to participants’ resumes
  • Have breakfast named after your company (Limited to 2)*

Includes all the benefits of the supporter package.


Show Your Support with a Presence at the Event

  • Logo on t-shirts
  • Judge entries

Contact Us About Becoming A Sponsor:

For information about becoming a sponsor, please view the Healthhacks Packet 2018

To get in touch about becoming a sponsor, please contact Philip O'Connor, Corporate Relations Officer at oconnorpl@vcu.edu or call (804)828-9551.

2018 Partnerships

A compilation of sponsor logos for the 2018 HealthHacks design-a-thon.

Major League Hacking 2019 Hackathon Season