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First Step Program

Innovative Student Solutions to Challenging Health Issues

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Have a great idea for an innovative way to promote healthy living?

Got a plan for a new process or design that would revolutionize health care delivery?

We want to hear it!

The CHS Dean’s Office will be funding innovative student projects focused on addressing challenging health issues.

Other questions? Please contact Jenny Reed jmreed@udel.edu

Important Dates
Project Proposal Due Date September 26, 2014
Project Proposal Award Date October 13, 2014
Written Project Report Due Date March 13, 2015
to jmreed@udel.edu
Oral/PowerPoint Project Result Presentations March 25, 2015 -
March 27, 2015
Awards' symposium for outstanding projects April 24, 2015 at 6:30PM in the STAR Campus Atrium


Examples of projects include but are not limited to: biomedical research, medical practice, health advocacy, health policy, health management, health informatics, community-based research or related health areas. The solutions may be a device or product, a business model, an organization, a policy or a process or procedure that offers an improvement to health care or healthy living, but are not limited to those categories. There are a variety of approaches that could be developed, including developing new health care policies, inventing a device, outlining a change in best practices, developing new and better ways to evaluate outcomes. In addition, there are ideas that might be developed as intellectual property or small start-up businesses.

First Step in the Press


The College of Health Sciences invites CHS undergraduate students, or teams of students led by a CHS undergraduate, to (a) identify important challenges in healthcare and healthy living and (b) develop novel solutions to those challenges.

Students will prepare a proposal application that focuses on an important aspect of health care, develop a potential solution to that problem, and present their solution for review. CHS will provide $500 funding to each of the top 20 applications to identify a health care problem and articulate a potential solution to that problem.

The students will have six months to develop their solution, which could be a policy, application, device or best practice, but is not limited to those categories. Written reports and oral presentations of the student’s or team’s results and solution will be evaluated by a faculty committee.

All students will be invited to present their solutions at a public symposium in the form of a poster, where the top three students will give a short oral presentation and cash prizes of $1500, $1000 and $500 awarded to the top three students or teams. Students and Teams will be connected with experts order to develop a dialogue about the merits of their ideas and how they can move forward to pursue and further develop their ideas. If students develop applications or devices that they feel warrant consideration as intellectual property or patent protection, they should communicate this fact to their faculty advisor two months in advance of the symposium presentation (April 25, 2014) so that appropriate paperwork can be filled out in order to protect their ideas or invention.

Project Application Process

Students or student teams will compose an application that identifies a health care challenge and articulates a plan to develop a solution to that problem. The application must include an abstract that should be organized as follows:

  1. Summarize the challenge to be addressed and the type of solution to be developed
  2. Give some background on this challenge and why it is important
  3. Indicate what current approaches are being used and state why these approaches are not satisfactory
  4. Develop a proposed plan to address these challenges.
  5. State the qualifications and background of the student or the team.
  6. Estimate the funds needed to develop this plan (up to $500) and justify why these funds are needed


All College of Health Science registered undergraduate students are eligible. If the application will be developed by a team, then the leader of the team must be a CHS undergraduate student, but undergraduate members of the team may come from either the CHS or other colleges within the University of Delaware Newark campus.

Award Process

These 3-5 page applications should be submitted to the College of Health Sciences Dean’s Office via email (chs-info@udel.edu) by 5:00 pm, September 27, 2013. They will be reviewed by a committee of 5 faculty members for merit, and the top 20 students or student teams will be awarded up to $500 to pursue their research project idea. Students will be assigned a faculty project advisor and will meet with the advisor once per month to provide updates on progress.

Use of Funds

Funds may be used to purchase resource information, travel, expenses related to interviews of patients, and expenses associated with team meetings or other uses related to the development of the project solution. Funds may not be used for enrollment fees, salaries or personal living expenses.

Completion of Project

At the end of the 6 months, a 3-5 page report will be provided to the Associate Dean of Research by 5:00 pm, March 14, 2014 and students will be responsible for (a) preparing their report in the form of a poster (CHS will assist) and creating a 10 minute PowerPoint presentation that summarizes the research health challenge they addressed, the reason the problem is significant, current approaches and then the student or teams suggested approach, which should also be provided. These reports will be evaluated by the awards committee in order to prepare the committee for oral presentations.

Presentation of Results

The students will also present their results in the form of a PowerPoint presentation to the review committee for evaluation (March 21, 2014). Projects will be reviewed based on (a) the significance of the problem to be addressed, (b) innovation, (c) practical ability to develop the idea and apply the solution to real world problems. The committee will rank the top 3 projects based on the review criteria and the quality of their written and oral presentations.


All presentations will be prepared as a poster and displayed at a public symposium on Friday, April 25th, 2014. The top 3 projects will be invited to summarize their results at the symposium and prizes awarded for 1st place ($1500), 2nd place ($1000) and 3rd place ($500) to the winning student or team.

The symposium will take place at a venue that will provide dinner for students and teams, faculty participants and invited guests.


After the awards are made, the winning student or teams will be directed to interact with experts in the area of their study in order to help the student or team to understand how their idea might be implemented or developed and applied for real world applications. Students may elect to develop their ideas in undergraduate or graduate research training programs, or in the private sector.


Project Title Brief Overview/Goal Student Name
Baby WREX Develop a low profile wearable exoskeleton to help infants with upper body motor function disabilities. Solve shortcomings in existing product by creating a specialty device. Michael Olaya, John Koshy
Biocompatible Therapy To create specialized devices (starting with a wrist machine) for each joint in an effort to promote efficient injury recovery, and to bridge shortcomings in traditional, weight-based physical therapy/rehabilitation techniques. Ryan Locke, Kyle Davis
Can pediatric student nurses educated with basic child life skills improve pediatric patient experience in hospitals? Based on experience, questionnaires and interviews, create a method of teaching pediatric nurses a way to improve pediatric care and provide an atraumatic experience. Includes kit for helping children cope and parents interact positively. Kathryn Shady
Chest Compression Simulation System To create a safe and affordable chest compression simulation system that actors can wear for nursing students' practical use in CPR. Samantha Greeley, Benjamin Henry, Paul Ojewoye, Lindsay Scheetz, Bryce Sheppard
Community Paramedicine Find a feasible way to cut down on unnecessary transport and costs by researching community paramedicine. Will draft a proposal for how their EMS squad on campus could provide home-based services to community members not in crisis. Pat Lombardi, Taylor Kolle
Connections - College Students Helping the Elderly Age in Place Create a program similar to Lori's Hands to assist the elderly age in place. Use connections at universities across DE to institute service learning courses to teach students about the elderly. Work with Dr. Rempusheski to research and develop a plan to advocate for the geriatric population. Alexa Rivadeneira
Designing an Approach to Antidepressants Create polls for physicians, therapists, and psychiatrists to find out how they decide a patient needs antidepressants - as well as find out who each health worker feels should be the link that prescribes the medication, and if they create a regular plan for patient follow-ups.. Will work with university professors in health fields and determine best course to evaluate and create a more uniform approach to prescribing antidepressants, and show why these drugs need to be more closely regulated and evaluated. Pranita Muralidhar, Jenna Coluccio
Junk Kills A photographic campaign that visually depicts the dangers of unhealthy eating through symbolic shock imagery. Marta Shakhazizian
KID FIT Determine if a movement education program, called KID FIT, will have an impact on factors that affect early childhood obesity levels. Will work with the Newark Day Nursery weekly to see if KID FIT affects physical activity and motor skill proficiency. Devon Aleszczyk, Alexander Fettner
NomsAway To do in depth market research to verify initial findings and find potential customers to use a multifaceted, nutritional tracking applications. The app has been adapted (based on feedback) to be more flexible, save profiles, monitor nutritional intake both at home and out, and allow users to look at menus and pay for items through the app. The concept is now a business model. Kevin Chang, Mitali Desai, Anne Sanger
Preconception Peer Education Work hand in hand with the Delaware Heath Infant Mother Consortium to produce a video clip to educate Delawareans on the importance of preconception care. Will also work with preconception peer educators on campus to share research and knowledge. Emma Myers
QuadCrew: Adaptive Rowing for the Disabled While adaptive scull-style rowing is a Paralympic sport recognizing internationally, the existing adaptive technology caters to users who, at minimum, have arm and shoulder function. No adaptive technology exists for quadriplegic participants, for sweep-style rowing or for the use of a sliding rowing seat. The goal of this project is to develop an inclusive adaptive system that allows persons with severe physical disabilities to row on the water in a standard sweep-style boat as a part of a 4-8 person team. Sarah Masters, Robert Bryant, Candace Galentine, Matthew Imm, Sarah Masters, Molly Wessel
SFH: FEmpower To develop materials that could utilized for sustainable teaching at the community level, that focus on not only creating opportunities for non-working women to learn real-life trade skills but also for Haitian women to learn about personal well-being with a modern focus. Will work with Students for Haiti, as well as UD faculty. Jae Yoo, Emily Zhang, Sarah Mottram
The Lightcap Lifestyle Began as a different approach to health/behavior change through developing a healthy lifestyle - focus on positivity, acceptance and reinforcement. Turned from just advocacy into an entrepreneurship with coaching opportunities, webpage, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter. Collaborating with dieticians and using questionnaires to gauge effectiveness. Hannah Lightcap
The Monkey See, Monkey Do Campaign To create more educated parents and help fight childhood obesity. Will create banners, flyers and posters, as well as info/recipe booklets in front of participating grocery stores. Will monitor by feedback. Lindsey Root
Wearable Tracheostomy Overlay for Simulated Patient Use To develop a working prototype of a tracheostomy overlay for simulated patient use adhering to both actor and nursing students' needs. Brad Biggs, Devon Bond, Nick Campagnola, Ed Doll, Nate Hott
What's My Grade? Lack of nutritional knowledge creates void in health by creating an uneducated consumer who might not understand good food choices versus bad. Product marketing targets those in lower economic brackets - so by creating a grading system, people would have the chance to make more informed decisions about their health. Will research through questionnaires and experimenting with stickers on foods in resident halls, then evaluating the success on the small scale before taking it further into the public. Lizzie DeLacy


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