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King's Medical Student in Final of 2017 Elsevier Hackathon

Incoming Year 4 KCL MBBS student, Mao Fong Lim has made it through to the final of this year’s Elsevier Hackathon.

Staving off competition from medical students from around the globe, Mao will now travel to Helsinki in Finland for the 48-hour final, which takes place over the weekend of 25-27 August.

The competition builds on the success of the 2015 Hackathon, which saw health information company Elsevier as a headline sponsor, and will bring medical students from across the world together with designers and developers to build creative solutions to solve challenges in medical education.

Hackathons provide a platform for self-expression and creativity through technology. People with technical backgrounds come together, form teams around a problem or idea, and work collaboratively - in this case with medical students too – in order to code a unique solution from scratch. These solutions generally take the shape of websites, mobile apps or robots.

Run in partnership with the Association for Medical Education in Europe (AMEE), this year’s Elsevier Hackathon competition began in April with the aim of selecting 16 medical students as finalists. The finalists will join a team of international medical educators from AMEE and Elsevier in an event that has been described as ‘an immersive experiment’, which will share its findings during the main AMEE conference on Monday 29 August.

Interested students first applied through Elsevier Hacks by sharing the challenge or problem they wanted to tackle. The top respondents then went on to a second round, in which they created a video to demonstrate how the challenge or problem impacts their day-to-day study of medicine.

Out of more than 1,500 applications from 88 countries, Mao is actually the 17th finalist - selected by the judges as the ‘wild card’.  

Jan Herzhoff, Managing Director, Education, Elsevier said, “Technology is advancing at a rapid pace, and this event provides us with an opportunity to explore how technology can support and further medical education instead of surpassing it.”

“Hackathons foster creativity and innovation. They push participants to exhausting limits but working within such a tight time frame enables them to create prototype solutions that would not exist outside such an intense ecosystem,” said Eric Brown, Senior Director, Software Engineering, Elsevier.

President of AMEE, Professor Trudie Roberts, said, “The feeling of working creatively with enthusiastic individuals from different backgrounds to solve important issues in medical education is priceless.”

Mao’s ideas revolve around artificial intelligence, values-based medical education, gamifying public health and global health.

He said, “I initially applied on a whim, not really having a tangible idea. I was really surprised to have got so far – and especially surprised to be selected as a wildcard participant! Essentially, I’ll be bringing together my mix of interests in psychiatry, arts, global health, public health and education.” 

“Hackathons like this really acknowledge that medical students bring with them a diverse mix of experiences, talents, curiosities and interests – many of which aren’t given much chance to shine in medical school. I’m hoping to not just build a tech solution, I’m also hoping to build connections.”

See Mao’s ideas on YouTube