Usyd design students `hack' needle phobias

University of Sydney students brought design thinking to Westmead when they participated in a ‘hackathon’ to help children overcome a fear of needles.

The students’ brief was based on a research project by the University, The Children’s Hospital at Westmead and Kids Research to support children with severe needle phobias which often prevent them from completing their immunisation schedule.

Multi-disciplinary student groups had six hours to design, create and present their innovative solutions at the ‘Design Hackathon’ at the Westmead Education and Conference Centre on Friday 12 April.

Unique prototypes created on the day included an interactive game featuring `Dijit’, a Tamagotchi-inspired character for smart watches to distract children from vaccinations.

“Design for health and medicine is all about finding life-changing solutions,” University of Sydney student Elizabeth Hennessey said. “It's about empathising with patients and their experiences in order to tackle challenges innovatively, improving daily life through design.”

Westmead is home to about 1600 University of Sydney students across multiple disciplines and courses, including the Design Thinking for Health and Medicine unit of study conducted by the Sydney School of Architecture, Design and Planning.

Course co-coordinators Soojeong Yoo and Dr Naseem Ahmadpour said the opportunities for collaboration at Westmead were key to student success.

“Westmead is such a collaborative environment,” Associate Professor Yoo said. “Having a classroom in a hospital environment allows students to learn about and apply solutions to problems in-context.”

“Students can work with clinicians and fellow students from across different disciplines to see how their research is applied in practice,” Dr Ahmadpour said.

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