Hillcrest High trio’s award-winning device could revolutionize concussion diagnosis
Jul 25, 2017 11:44AM
● By Julie Slama
Hillcrest High’s Shreya Mahassenan, Madison Hooper and Marie Miskin developed a device that may revolutionize concussion diagnosis and treatment. They won several awards at the High School Utah Entrepreneur Challenge.RSL’s field in October. (Julie Slama/City Journals)
In a competition that attracted nearly 150 business idea submissions from high school students throughout the state, three Hillcrest High School teenagers received several top entrepreneur awards with their idea that may revolutionize concussion diagnosis.
Junior Madison Hooper and sophomores Shreya Mahassenan and Marie Miskin developed HeadShot, a device that measures brain activity of regions of the cortex that helps athletes know how to better care for and handle their concussions.
“It’s a better idea for diagnosing where concussions are as MRIs and CT scans can’t identify where the concussions are on the brains,” Madison said. “Using electrode sponges, our device can pinpoint exactly which part of the brain is affected, helping patients know how best to care for their concussions.”
The team received several awards at the 2017 High School Utah Entrepreneur Challenge in mid-April for their project. They were the winners of the $1,000 STEM Entrepreneur Award and the Impact Hub In-Kind Award.
Madison and Shreya, who presented their project in front of a panel of judges April 15, also won $1,000 Lassonde Studios Scholarships to live in their accommodations if they choose to attend the University of Utah after high school graduation. The Institute provides students opportunities to learn about entrepreneurship and innovation.
“It’s definitely surreal,” Shreya said. “There were so many great projects in the competition. Through doing this, I learned a lot of people deal with concussions, so I grew confident in our idea.”
They began their project in January when Madison went to the counseling office in January and saw a flier about the entrepreneurship challenge.
“I decided to form a team and invited Shreya and Marie to join me. We brainstormed for ideas and since we’re all athletes, concussions came up,” Madison said.
Shreya, who plays hockey, has been diagnosed with a concussion—twice.
“I still have some pretty bad migraines resulting from my concussions. I hit my head on the ice and one week later, it spiked. I underestimated the amount of time I needed to recover and realized the severity of the injury. It really opened my eyes to the diagnosis and unknown certainties of the healing process. It put my life on standstill—not just sports, but class and everything. It took me three months to get back to normal. It’s definitely a problem and our device will benefit so many people in the world who are hit hard or impacted in the head,” she said.
The group researched other student-athletes, who play soccer and basketball, who have had concussions and second-impact syndromes.
“They all said they’d want a more specialized treatment plan,” Madison said.
The group talked to others in the medical and science fields as they developed their working theory and prototype.
“We wanted to help work out a specific brain imagining device that would have safe technology and medical approval,” Shreya said.
Once their concept was in place, Marie, who recently moved to Utah, took over the design process.
“I learned drawing from my mother,” she said. “I hadn’t ever drawn anything scientific before, but it was good to put my art to use for something outside of my norm, to draw for an intended purpose.”
Having had a concussion in basketball in California, Marie said she first looked at pictures of brains before getting her first sketch of the device a few hours later. After a few more attempts, she shared her work with her teammates.
The group then worked quickly days before the competition to create a model, which they had on display at the state challenge. Only Madison and Shreya presented their device as Marie’s mother died days before the competition. Marie arrived in time for the showcase later that day.
“She saw my drawings before she died and she was proud that I put my talent to use. Maybe I could put my art into drawing prototypes or inventions as a career. This competition taught me how to talk to a lot of people and how to explain a project. I’ve never done that before. I’ve really enjoyed coming up with an idea, finding out what we’re passionate about and researching to find a solution. This is a great group of girls who are smart and have a mindset to help change the world,” Marie said.
Shreya agreed. “I learned that we could find an innovative solution to a problem. It’s satisfying to know we’ve made a device that can benefit others.”
Madison said their project doesn’t end with the competition. Together with the STEM Action Center, who awarded them a scholarship, they will work to create an actual product and then talk to middle school students about becoming entrepreneurs.
“It was great that we all became good friends and together, we created a project that can impact the world,” she said.
Another Midvale team advanced to the final round, where they got the chance to pitch their ideas to judges, made up of many influential community leaders. Teams’ ideas and business presentations ranged from a portable solar panel to affordable homes for the homeless.
Five students, two who attend Midvale Middle School, presented an air scare device. The project is an innovative small, portable and non-polluting air dancer, which makes a positive impact by making air travel safer and saving birds’ lives by scaring them away from airports, said Midvale Middle sixth-graders Abigail Slama-Catron and Eric Snaufer, who worked with Beehive Academy sixth-graders Allison Drennan and Tim Holt and Alta High’s Katie Drennan.
They were awarded $1,000 for the best prototype, which has been tested and proven effective at the Salt Lake International Airport. Their award was sponsored by Zions Bank.
“Today was a milestone day to have the High School Utah Entrepreneur Challenge and the Utah Entrepreneur Challenge together,” said Mike Winder, vice president of community development at Zions Bank. “The energy was explosive and amazing.”
The goal of the Utah High School Entrepreneur Challenge is to help high school students explore innovation and early stage business.
“It was an incredible experience to see up-and-coming entrepreneurs showcase their hard work and pitch their idea to the judges,” said Stephanie Gladwin, a University of Utah senior and chair of the High School Utah Entrepreneur Challenge.