Annual BioInnovation Academy Introduces Students to Medicine, Engineering

Akron Beacon Journal coverage and photos of this year’s BioInnovation Academy can be found here


(July 14, 2014) – For two weeks this summer, the Austen BioInnovation Institute in Akron (ABIA) will once again encourage high school students from around the region to explore solutions to a real-life medical problem during its annual BioInnovation Academy.
During separate, weeklong sessions participants will work synergistically with both their peers and experts to investigate the root causes and possible solutions for the growing problem of concussions and the traumatic brain injuries (TBI) that often ensue. The academy includes student participants from across Ohio. Scholarships for Akron Public Schools students were made possible through a generous grant from the Akron Community Foundation.
“We will use clinical simulation and talks to show students how and why concussions happen, then provide them with a way they can explore novel solutions – either by creating a new or improved medical device or software programs,” explains Dr. Vivek Narayan, ABIA Director of Program Management and Entrepreneurial Education. “No aspect of the problem is off limits, and we will encourage the students to pursue whatever interests them most about the condition.”
The students, who will be broken into teams at the beginning of the week, will hear from a variety of speakers throughout their time at ABIA, including physicians, engineers, researchers and marketing professionals, to gain a better understanding of both concussions and the comprehensive nature of medical innovation. Guest lecturers Dr. Joseph Congeni, Medical Director of the Sports Medicine Center at Akron Children’s Hospital, and Dr. Victor Pinheiro, Professor and School Director of the Department of Sport Science and Wellness Education at The University of Akron, will serve as the keynote and closing speakers.
As a resource, students will have the chance to experience what it’s like to have a concussion first-hand by using Concussion Goggles™ to simulate dizziness, visual disconnect, disorientation and other symptoms associated with the condition.
Time will be split equally between classroom instruction and self-directed project work, and will include exposure to ABIA’s various simulation environments, including its mock hospital, and the product development lab. The week will end with students presenting their ideas and solutions before a panel of judges for final review, with the winning team receiving a prize.
“The highlight of the program is seeing participants apply their understanding of a clinical problem to the creation of solutions that could have real-world application, all in the matter of a week,” says Dr. Narayan. “We hope the BioAcademy is an immersive and life-changing experience for students, giving them an idea of how interesting and creative science, technology, engineering and mathematical (STEM) pursuits can be.”