Every year students at the Joan and Irwin Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute at Cornell Tech journey to Haifa to collaborate with Technion students and faculty. Often their first trip to Israel, the master’s students visit Technion labs, participate in a social impact hackathon, and soak up Israel’s startup ecosystem. While the COVID-19 pandemic forced it to go virtual, this year’s version of the experiential iTrek Program may have been the most creative yet.

This year’s semester-long iTrek was organized jointly by the Technion, the Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute, and MindState Ideation Lab, which gathers students, entrepreneurs, and designers to create societal change. Throughout the semester, students from both the Technion and the Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute were tasked with finding innovative technological solutions for healthcare’s greatest challenges. The work culminated on January 14, 2021 with a competition titled “Time to Care.”

Twelve multi-disciplinary teams of students and professional designers from companies including Google, took part virtually under the academic leadership of Technion Assistant Professor Joachim Behar, director of the Technion Artificial Intelligence in Medicine Laboratory, Professor Ron Brachman, director of the Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute, and Professor Ariel Orda, Jacobs Program Head at the Technion. Along with mentors from Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center, the teams tackled problems such as communication between patients and staff, food waste in hospitals, and even early Alzheimer’s diagnosis.

The first-place team won for their idea of developing a portable defibrillator, called Defi. Run on a mobile phone’s power supply, Defi would provide immediate treatment to save the life of someone suffering from a heart attack. The device would be made compact by eliminating the large battery that constitutes most of current-day defibrillators’ bulk, and then charged instead with a mobile phone within seconds.

Defi would come with an accompanying app that would automatically contact emergency services and send caregivers real-time information about the patient’s condition.

  • Second place went to project Minder, aimed at helping the elderly keep track of their medication and stay in touch with their doctors.
  • Third place was awarded to project Libi, which uses tracking and education to help heart attack patients avoid a second incident.

The three winners shared a $10,000 prize provided by the Dr. Joseph Holt and Halaine Maccabee Rose Fund.

Located on Roosevelt Island in New York City, the Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute is fully accredited by the State of New York. Its graduates receive dual master’s degrees from Cornell University and the Technion, the first international university to grant an accredited degree on U.S. soil. The annual iTrek program gives students the opportunity to see their future alma mater up close.

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Ron Brachman
Ron Brachman
Cornell Tech
Ron Brachman