April 8, 2024

Hackathon encourages digital health solutions from graduate students in nursing and engineering

Community partner Dr. Barrie Strafford Centre for Learning Innovation and Quality to offer seed funding and mentorship for successful project
Catherine Laing and Linda Duffett-Leger
Catherine Laing, executive director, Dr. Barrie Strafford Centre for Learning Innovation and Quality, and associate professor Linda Duffett-Leger. Lynda Sea

For the third year in a row, UCalgary Nursing’s Healthcare Innovation and Design (HCID) graduate certificate involved a hackathon with nursing graduate-level students paired with graduate students from Schulich School of Engineering studying software design – but this year, with a twist. 

Dr. Linda Duffett-Leger, associate professor, HCID lead and course creator, explains the exciting new addition. “Nurses get excited in this course to design a digital health-care innovation and have the opportunity to work with engineers to create a working prototype: they feel empowered to transform the system,” she explains, “But they get deflated quickly when there is no place for them to integrate their ideas.” 

Enter the Dr. Barrie Strafford Centre for Learning Innovation and Quality (CLIQ) at the Brenda Strafford Foundation, who will offer seed funding and mentorship for the successful project. “They are a logical first partner,” says Duffett-Leger.

"By partnering with community early in the design process, we can create an innovation pipeline and can help find a home for the digital health solution."

The nursing students explore a software solution that tackles a real-world health-care issue prior to meeting with their Schulich team a week before the hackathon. “At the hackathon, the teams work together on their digital health solutions, then present their prototypes to a panel of judges in five-minute pitches,” Duffett-Leger adds. Those judges this year included members of the Brenda Strafford Foundation, Ward of the 21st Century and UCalgary Nursing and Engineering. 

“We value the insight of new learners,” comments Catherine Laing, CLIQ’s executive director. “And we love the potential of our frontline staff, our RNs, solving some of those health-care problems that we’re seeing day-to-day, using a new digital health design.” 

“This is really a rich gateway for these students to get into the innovation ecosystem in a short period of time,” continues Duffett-Leger.  “We are so grateful for CLIQ’s support and are hopeful that more community partners will join us in the future.” 

Sign up for UToday

Sign up for UToday

Delivered to your inbox — a daily roundup of news and events from across the University of Calgary's 14 faculties and dozens of units

Thank you for your submission.