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Ceremony Celebrates Future Generation Innovators from AimHI Summer Incubator Program

For Immediate Release: Tuesday, August 9, 2016

The next generation of young innovators will present their startups and mobile medical applications at the aimHI Summer Incubator Shark Tank & Demo on Wednesday August 10 from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. The program, which is open to the public, will be held at the main campus of the US Food and Drug Administration, Building 31 Great Room, 10903 New Hampshire Avenue, Silver Spring.

The high school participants in this program, which is a joint collaboration between Montgomery County Public Libraries (MCPL) and the FDA, will pitch their mobile medical apps to a team of judges in a shark tank demonstration to get “funding” and feedback on their “start-up” companies.

One medical app called “SportsAid” helps students learn to recognize the signs of a concussion when they are on the playing field; another app helps teens quickly locate the antidote naloxone in the event of finding a friend or family member in the throes of a potentially deadly heroin overdose. A third group developed an app called “PotsHub” to help improve the quality of life for patients afflicted with Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS).

“The aimHI Summer Incubator Program provided an opportunity for young people to understand and experience science and technology concepts which can be more challenging in a classroom setting,” said Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett. “If we are to build a diverse representation in science and technology, it is important that we provide activities such as aimHI, where children can build skills in a supportive, fun environment.”

Judges on the shark tank panel include; Cory Milam, the FDA’s director of innovation; Vasum Peiris, M.D.; chief medical officer for pediatrics and special populations at the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health; and Graham Dodge, CEO of Sickweather.   

“The innovative program sparked an interest in STEM activities and showed the teens they are capable of excelling in technology and science,” said MCPL Director Parker Hamilton. “I am proud MCPL is a partner in this creative program which helps the participants feel inspired to explore their interests and reach their full potential.”

The six-week program provided a free experience to 30 teens, 80 percent of whom were from high schools that are underrepresented in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) programs. Participants split their schedule between time at the FDA and the MCPL incubator site doing experiential activities, field trips and leadership development activities.  Sponsors of the program included Gaithersburg High School, Maryland Multicultural Youth Centers and A Wider Circle in addition to MCPL and the FDA.

“We wanted to encourage a new generation of students to explore the field of medical technologies when they head to college,” said Jeff Shuren, M.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health.

 “The quality of the aimHI students is phenomenal,” said Jessica Berrellez, team leader in innovation and technology solutions at the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health’s Office of Science and Engineering Laboratories who headed the aimHI Summer incubator program. “From day one, we treated them like professionals and they rose to the challenge. It was rewarding to watch them grow throughout the program.”

A highlight of the program included a visit to the White House where the youth pitched their mobile applications to White House staff.

This is the second year of the program which aims to get high school students excited about careers in health technology, medical devices. Gaithersburg, Silver Spring and White Oak libraries provided incubator sites to offer three types of laboratory experiences.

Teams worked with aimHI staff and volunteers to learn mobile application product development. Students also took a Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Massive Open Online Course Becoming an Entrepreneur.

“Creating an app is a great challenge, especially when you have no coding skills,” said AimHI participant Andres Garcia, a rising 12th grader at Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda. “AimHI has taught me not only the basics of coding but also that, in life, you will not always work with people with the same perspective as you.”

For more information about MCPL programs and activities go to http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/library/.

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Release ID: 16-439
Media Contact: Judy Stiles 240-777-6507