iCAN Summit - Children Making a Change - Rachel Zajdel & Tayler Fane

Team triALL, one of the centennialX student teams, has been tasked with tackling obstacles in today’s society. The team is working with Eli Lilly’s Joe Kim and iCAN to develop a solution that enhances the communication between pediatric clinical trial researchers and the advocacy chapters. Their goal is to create a more personal connection so the children patients feel a sense of reassurance and that the feedback they give is being used to improve clinical trials.

Team triALL  began their groundbreaking journey to Orlando, Florida on Thursday, July 13. Assigned with the task of hosting a presentation at a summit in front of iCAN chapters in order to gain insight on the issues with patient-doctor communication, time and effectiveness was a huge challenge. The team was given only one hour to get as much information as possible while providing the chapters with an enjoyable, interactive experience.

At the summit, the Team triALL created a presentation that would enable them more feedback and information from the patients and advocates. With interactive activities like thought clouds, where the kids could express issues they face while in clinical trials. Team triALL would then use this information to generate a solution for the most prominent challenge.

The chapters agreed that the main source of communication currently is through surveys, however that system was found to be ineffective. Regarding some of the frustrations, triALL member Alessia Martusciello commented “Once they give this feedback to the researchers, they don’t really hear back what they do with the information, and they’re saying ‘okay why did we even give it to you, we don’t know if you’re even listening’.”

TriALL’s presentation was a success as all attendees were intrigued and engaged throughout the hour. The energy in the room was astonishing and reflected the passion and dedication that the chapters and triALL put into iCAN. The information gained was essential in advancing the problem-solving process, and the connections were ones to last a lifetime. Team member Spencer Fairall remarked, “Even though we brought back all of this information, one of the most enriching parts was talking to people.”    

Team triALL is currently taking that feedback from the summit and continuing to brainstorm and figure out pathways that will lead them to their end solution. This challenge is something that really inspires the students to make a difference in the lives of those facing clinical trials and impacting generations to come.

“We were inspired going into this, but sitting across from someone who says ‘I’m a cancer survivor’ or ‘I have a rare disease’, it’s just so personally touching.” -Will Clift

The Journey Has Begun - Rachel Zajdel

The CentennialX MIT bike team has begun their creative endeavor in tackling cyclists problems at the Keswick Cycle shop in Glenside, Pennsylvania on June 16, 2017. Store owner Brian Hackford and Service Manager Chad Kachel were eager in helping the students tackle their CentennialX summer challenge.

 This summer, the MIT team started analyzing the various difficulties that all types of bikers can face. Further, they have been assigned the duty of designing a revolutionized product aimed towards fixing the problem. Together, the group will need to generate ideas and build a prototype to essentially help make the cycling experience better for all riders. At Keswick Cycle, Brian and Chad provided the team with knowledge and insight to help get the members rolling.

The team started off their visit with vigor, as they were toured around the shop by Brian and Chad, while receiving the low down on cycling and bike anatomy. From mountain to road to triathlon to fitness hybrid, the team discovered interesting facts on the cycling experience and were intrigued by the vast opportunities that cycling had to offer. More importantly, they learned about the problems that cyclists go through.

Chad and Brian discussed with the team the core necessities to an advantageous cycling experience: safety, apparel and accessories.  The shop included safety features like reflective outfits and helmets, apparel such as fluorescent jackets and accessories like portable water packs. The team ventured all throughout the shop to gain a stronger understanding of the current biking equipment so they can later brainstorm ideas hoping to adjust or create a beneficial product of their own.

The experience at Keswick Cycle was truly eye-opening for the MIT team and helped them gain valuable knowledge and resources that will influence their project and allow them to thrive. Personally, after witnessing the immense passion and drive these students have towards their challenge, I believe they are destined for greatness.

Anticpation for Creation - By Tayler Fane

A racing heartbeat. Shaky breaths. My thumb hovering over the refresh button, desperate to find a sense of relief in my inbox. Millions of thoughts rushing through my mind at a billion miles a minute, causing my trillions of cells to stand on edge. I eagerly opened the email and quickly skimmed my eyes over the correspondence. As soon as I saw the word “Congratulations!”, I quickly lifted my body from the chair and burst with movements, having little regard for tempo or rhythm. All of my hard work had finally paid off--I was really going to be a part of the CentennialX Summer 2017 Program.

    When I was first nominated, I didn’t know what CentennialX was. I went to an informational meeting to see what exactly the program had to offer, and I was a bit hesitant. They discussed the past years’ challenges, all of which had some scientific twist. Science has never really been my strong suit, so I was weary that I would not be able to keep up with the expectations. I filled out my (very long) application regardless, figuring it was a good opportunity. When I finally got called back for an interview, I got pretty excited. I remember waiting outside of the room, my heartbeat loud in my ears. I saw the person come out before me in a suit holding a briefcase and instantly got more nervous. Compared to my bright red pants and polka dot socks, he definitely seemed to have everything in order. 

Luckily, my interview went well despite my lack of formal apparel. Afterward, my friends and I chattered about the questions and the serious faces in the room. We were all anxious, wishing the best for ourselves and hopeful that we would work with each other in the summer. When we finally got the results, we were all thrilled to discover that we had all been chosen for the final challenge. We had no clue what the challenge would entail, but we were ecstatic to find out.
The challenge was indeed challenging, but it was fun to collaborate with other people who brought different ideas to the table. We had to create a product that helped fix our given problem and present it to the other groups. My group worked very well together, and we got our work done without being too stressed or low on time. The presentation was a little nerve wracking, but we did a good job regardless. This was the final step of the selection process, so after this, we had to wait until we found out if we were officially accepted or not. I was genuinely worried I wasn’t going to get in, as I really got a feel for the true competition during the challenge. I saw extremely intelligent, outgoing people who I was worried I couldn’t compare to. I didn’t know if I would make it in or not. All I did know is how bad I wanted to and how it would feel to make it this far and not be accepted. I was nervous, to say the least.

Although the process seemed to last a decade, it was definitely worth the wait. Seeing all of the determined, intelligent minds that will be working together this summer in one room sparks such a sense of inspiration within me. We all worked extremely hard to get to where we are, and we all have the same sense of determination to make this the best experience possible. Words cannot accurately describe how incredible it feels to be working with such amazing people, and I’m determined to make the most out of this opportunity. After all, we are the future.