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Mohawk iDeaWORKS launches Apps for Health student competition: technology solutions to real-world health challenges

Could medical response teams use mobile phones to access life-saving patient information in the immediate aftermath of earthquakes and tsunamis?

Could cellphones be used to help teens quit smoking and prevent eating disorders among female teenage athletes? Could tablets and touch screens be modified for people who have limited use of their hands?

These are among the challenges that teams of college and university students will look to solve during Apps for Health 2011 at Mohawk College May 27-28. 

Students will compete for more than $10,000 in cash and prizes by mocking up mobile health (m-health) and electronic health (e-health) solutions to real-world challenges put forward by a growing roster of organizations that include Hamilton Health Sciences, McMaster Children’s Hospital, Sick Kids, Leave the Pack Behind and Canadian Medical Assistance Teams.

Apps for Health 2011 is presented by Mohawk College iDeaWORKS and sponsored by TELUS and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada. iDeaWORKS brings industry and community partners together with Mohawk students, faculty and staff to work on applied research and innovation projects. More than 200 students, faculty and staff are currently working on 27 projects with industry and community partners.

Working alongside students to design and test a national electronic health record system inspired Mohawk professor Duane Bender to create Apps for Health. “Students are instinctively innovative and naturally collaborative,” says Bender, Professor of Software Engineering Technology and Principal Applied Researcher, eHealth with the Department of Computer Science and Information Technology. “We’ve created a competition at Mohawk where college and university students from across the country can put their skills to the test in solving real-world challenges from leading health organizations.”

Apps for Health brings together students from health and technology programs to work collaboratively on cross-disciplinary teams, says iDeaWORKS’ Christy Taberner, who is working with Bender to organize the competition. “By working together and sharing their expertise, students will come up with better and more innovative health and technology solutions.” Before joining iDeaWORKS, Taberner worked for 13 years as an occupational therapist and supported students with disabilities through Mohawk’s Accessible Learning Services department.

Registration is free and open to all college and university students in Canada. To compete in Apps for Health, students choose one of the health challenges posted on the Apps for Health website at www.appsforhealth.ca. Students then create or join a team and review background material provided by the health organization that put forward the challenge. On May 27-28, students will get an all-access pass to the facilities and technology at iDeaWORKS and the Mohawk Learning Exchange at the Fennell Campus in Hamilton. Students will then make a 10-minute presentation to a panel of health and technology experts that will award the $10,000 in cash and prizes. 

Mohawk College delivers a quality education to more than 16,000 full-time and apprenticeship students and 42,000 continuing education registrants. In the Ontario government’s most recent student satisfaction survey, Mohawk ranked first among all colleges in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area for overall student satisfaction and earned the highest marks from students for quality of learning, programs, services and facilities.

For complete details on Apps for Health 2011, go to www.appsforhealth.ca.

For more information, contact:

Duane Bender, B.Eng.Mgmt., P.Eng., Professor, Software Engineering Technology, Principal Applied Researcher, eHealth, Department of Computer Science and Information Technology, 905.575.1212 ext. 3653, duane.bender@mohawkcollege.ca

Christy Taberner, OT.Reg(Ont.) iDeaWORKS, 905.575.1212 ext. 3112, christy.taberner@mohawkcollege.ca

Jay Robb, Director of Communications, 905.575.1212 ext. 3965, jay.robb@mohawkcollege.ca