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Thomas C. Skalak

Thomas C. Skalak

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Charlottesville, VA 22904


VP for Research

OpenGrounds Challenge in Partnership with Hearst Business Media

HearstThis September, OpenGrounds launches its next OpenGrounds Challenge in partnership with Hearst Business Media.  The challenge asks the university's students to imagine ways to help people make better choices about their own health.   Undergraduates, graduate students and post-docs from all schools and disciplines will be invited to imagine the games, biometric devices, clinical tools, and social networks that could drive people to be accountable for their own health and live disease-free. Proposals may include concepts ranging from health awareness, monitoring specific conditions, disease or general fitness, to life choices such as food, exercise, environment, and education.  They will be  in competition for a total of $25,000 in prizes. The inaugural OpenGrounds Challenge, which took place last fall, was sponsored by Vonage, a leading telecommunications firm, and asked students to imagine the next evolution of social messaging. 

The partnership between OpenGrounds and Hearst Business Media began with a Design Gathering in 2010, bringing Hearst executives together with UVA Faculty to work creatively on challenges ranging from telemedicine and medical records to health access and communications. Faculty from architecture, medicine, the sciences, engineering and nursing collaborated with the Hearst Business Media leadership to develop techniques for diagramming ideas, participate in role modeling simulations and brainstorming sessions. This engagement laid the foundation for this fall’s Challenge.

Hearst Business Media is hoping to learn more about how young people think about and make decisions about their own health. OpenGrounds and Hearst Business Media are working with Survey Monkey to develop a survey that will be launched later this month, in order to gain insight into college age attitudes toward health and health care. This survey will provide a common information resource for those involved in the competition, as well as an interesting window into the beliefs, practices, and motivations of the age group.

This collaboration exemplifies the way OpenGrounds works with institutional and corporate partners to provide new opportunities for students and faculty to develop novel approaches to complex problems. Through corporate Challenges, industry partners are able to break out of conventional thinking and engage the creativity of university students with new insights and disruptive approaches to pressing societal issues.

“OpenGrounds was created to generate new ideas that will make a difference, connecting people and inspiring action across boundaries within and beyond the University,” said Bill Sherman, Founding Director of OpenGrounds. "The Hearst Business Media Challenge applies the creative capacity of our students to a critical societal need".

For more information please contact Bill Sherman or Lindsey Hepler at, (434)243-4889.