3D Printing Innovation Challenge Brings Hackathon Spirit to WCM

June 13, 2017
By: Jamie Kass, WCM External Affairs


Winning team members Aiofe MacMahon, Val Denay Mack, and Eugenia Papadopoulos with judge Dr. Francis Barany at the 3D Printing Innovation Challenge. (Winning team member Jingyang Liu not pictured) All photos by Brooke Alexander


The Clinical and Translational Science Center (CTSC), in collaboration with the medical student group Tech-in-Medicine, hosted its first hackathon, the 3D Printing Innovation Challenge, over the course of several days in May. While 3D printing is not a new technology, the biomedical field has been slow to embrace it in research and clinical applications, in part due to a lack of awareness of its availability and capabilities.

Model of "myERbuddy - Senior Care Simplified!," a smart
pillbox that could be synced to an app, with sensors, lights
and buzzers to help with medication compliance.
Team named for "Most Integrative Product".

To jumpstart its adoption, staff at the CTSC cast a wide net for participants for the Innovation Challenge and solicited ideas for projects from departments across WCM. They also engaged design and 3D printing professionals at WCM and beyond to lend their expertise to the faculty, medical students, researchers, fellows and others who signed up for the hackathon.


Some people registered as a team with a project proposal; others were organized into groups based on their interests and expertise. Projects ran the spectrum from basic research tools like a 3D cell culture apparatus to consumer products such as orthotics and pill cases.


On the eve of the hackathon, Dr. Julianne Imperato-McGinley, CTSC director and principal investigator, opened the proceedings by stressing the importance of creativity and disruptive thinking, as well as the need to break down silos, in order to make transformative advances in medicine. Dr. Rob Shepherd, an assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at Cornell University and an expert in 3D printing with soft, biocompatible materials, and Dr. James Shin, a fellow in the department of radiology and an expert in clinical 3D printing, gave inspiring talks on the current uses and future potential for 3D printing in biomedicine.


The weekend of May 13-14 was dedicated to working on the projects, and committed teams worked feverishly in the CTSC 3D Printing Lab with CTSC research specialist Andrika Morant right up until their final presentations the following week. Though billed as a competition, there was a free-flowing exchange of knowledge between teams, which reinforced the overarching educational goals of the hackathon.


Model of a Flow-Sensing Grasper that would help surgeons detect the presence of a blood vessel by sensing blood flow in the target area, thereby preventing surgical complications from bleeding. Team recognized for "Most Innovative Product."

The winning group, which focused on designing affordable and customizable orthotics, was led by Cornell University graduate student Val Denay Mack, along with Hospital for Special Surgery occupational therapist Eugenia Papadopoulos, WCM medical student Aoife MacMahon and Cornell University graduate student Jingyang Liu. The first prize package included a specially designed 3D printed skull trophy, an Arduino electronics kit, and an Echo Dot for each member of the team. Finalists received Certificates of Recognition in the following categories: Most Innovative Product, Most Integrative Product, Best Prototype, and Most Personalized Product.


Drs. Francis Barany, Anthony Brown, Michele Fuortes, Mark Pecker, James Shin, Henning Voss, and Noy Bassik generously volunteered as mentors and judges for the event. In addition, Drs. Ryan Schreiner, Rob Shepherd, Sanlin Robinson, Jonathan St. George, Alejandro Amor-Coarasa, and Elizabeth Henaff, as well as WCM librarian Loretta Merlo, medical student Du Cheng, 3D designer Kate Specter, and founder of OomStudios Yevgeny Koramblyum gave their time to assist teams during the hackathon.


The 3D printed final products will be on display in the Samuel J. Wood Library at Weill Cornell Medicine during the month of June.


To learn more about the 3D Printing Innovation Challenge and Hackathon, including future events, contact My Linh Novotny, assistant director of program development at the CTSC, and Birra Taha and Pavan Myneni, Tech-in-Medicine student leaders, at 3dprintinghackathon@med.cornell.edu.


Organizers, judges, and participants of the 3D Printing Innovation Challenge.


Model of a 3D Cell Culture apparatus that would serve as a “cage” for cells. The device could be implanted in the body and later removed for bioanalysis. Team recognized for “Best Prototype”.


Model of Orthotic Insoles, with the ability to inflate arches to desired height. Selected for First Prize.


Model of an Airway Intubation Simulation and Training device that would allow low-cost modeling of airway abnormalities. Team named for “Most Personalized Product”.

Follow Us on Instagram @3d_md