Hacking Healthcare Solutions Using Allscripts Development Tools

Over the weekend of January 23rd and 24th, students at Dalhousie University participated in the Allscripts Developer Training Workshop and Code-a-Thon. The goal: to create an innovative solution to a healthcare-related “challenge” as presented by the Allscripts on-site support team or another challenge identified by the student team using the Allscripts Unity API – a suite of tools open to the third-party developer community.

To kick things off, students spent three hours learning all about the Allscripts developer portal, Unity API, and how they can integrate these tools into the developer’s preferred workflows and environment. After the training, students were treated to lunch and the Allscripts support staff presented a design challenge to the students. Over the next hour or so, students formed small project teams and began working on the presented challenge or a challenge of their own choosing. Students continued to work feverishly on possible solutions up to the idea presentation showcase at 2pm on Sunday afternoon. Unlike most hack-a-thons, idea pitches were not judged but instead, event attendees, including Dr. Raza Abidi of NICHE Research Group, participated in a lively Q&A period following each presentation.

All parties felt that there were many positive outcomes from this event including the strengthening of connections between students, the faculty, and Allscripts. Students also benefitted from free access to the Allscripts Developer Portal, including hands-on training and support at the event on how to code using the Allscripts Unity API. Several great ideas were generated as potential healthcare-related solutions and all partners have committed to providing the necessary supports for student developers wishing to continue development.

Team 42—WAP
Team 42—WAP

Technology Innovation Course Launching January 2016

This winter, we are offering the brand new Technology Innovation course. It is now open for registration. The course incorporates elements of entrepreneurial mindset, design thinking, UI + UX, rapid prototyping, and software engineering to address the growing demand in industry for workers who possess these skills and for developers in the startup space.

Interdisciplinary Design students from NSCAD University will be joining students at Dalhousie University in this unique, multi-institutional classroom hosted at ShiftKey Labs every Monday from 5:30 pm to 8:30 pm. Students will be introduced to entrepreneurial mindset and design thinking in weeks one and two of the course. In week three, an industry expert/researcher will present a design challenge to students who will then form small project teams and work together for the remainder of the semester. Teams will apply the concepts learned in-class to solve the challenge balancing the viability and feasibility of the idea from both business and technical perspectives. A variety of subject matter experts, technical experts, coaches, and other supports will be integrated in to the course to ensure that project teams have the resources needed to be successful. The course will conclude with a public showcase of each project to peers, faculty members, researchers, and the broader community.

If you would like to see the detailed course outline, please access the CSCI 4190/6904—Technology Innovation shared document. Please note that this course is restricted to students in their 3rd year of studies or above. Undergraduate students should register for CSCI 4190 and graduate students should register for CSCI 6904 through the Academic Timetable.

Helpful hacking – Dal News – Dalhousie University

Innovacorp and ShiftKey Labs — the Dal-hosted information and communications technology sandbox — set the stage for the first-ever Halifax Smart Energy App Challenge this fall.

Kicking off with a “Hackathon” event in late September, 40 participants across 10 teams were challenged to develop a new app to benefit participants in Halifax’s Solar City program, which offers homeowners and businesses in Halifax solar energy options.

Continue reading “Helpful hacking – Dal News – Dalhousie University”

Students Build Online Resumes with the help of WordPress, Microsoft Azure

On November 16, students from Dalhousie, St. Mary’s, NSCC and NSCAD came out to learn more about the advantages of building an online résumé. Dalhousie’s three Microsoft Student Partners hosted the event to teach students about WordPress, the Azure Cloud and useful online résumé techniques.

Microsoft Student Partners
Microsoft Student Partners

Students gained valuable skills and learned how an online résumé is a great tool to stand out as a candidate in today’s job market. Students were also given an introduction to a Content Management System and to the Azure Cloud.

ShiftKey Labs was happy to provide the venue for this event as well as lend promotional support to the schools involved to get the message out to students!

Special thanks to Colin Melia, Microsoft Regional Director, for leading this session.

Students Heed Advice at Common Founder Pitfalls Event

In the afternoon of November 5, presenter Colin Conrad shared the common pitfalls faced by founders when building teams, searching for capital and determining equity shares. Based on Noam Wasserman’s Founder’s Dilemmas, we discussed what the data has to say about the characteristics of a strong founding team, common founder pitfalls, and the statistical impact of key early decisions on a startup company two years down the road.

Colin Conrad, a PhD student at Dalhousie studying through the Faculties of Management and Computer Science, did a terrific job delivering this presentation to students. Colin has been providing consulting and research services for six post-revenue startup companies in the space of E-commerce or Health since 2012. He also led RealLike, a “gracefully” failed Offline-to-Online point of sales platform for retailers. We were very grateful to learn from his successes and failures along the way and to have him share his experiences with students.

ShiftKey Labs is proud to have planned and organized this event. Students from all partner institutions, including Dal, SMU, NSCAD, NSCC and Volta Labs, were in attendance at the event.

Design Thinking: A Framework for Innovation

On November 4, ShiftKey Labs members took part in Design Thinking event. Facilitated by Jenny Baechler, participants learned about the tools and techniques of design thinking as an approach to innovation. We explored ideas from some of the leaders in design thinking including Tim Brown, David Kelly and Roger Martin. These leaders have made design thinking an important piece of the start-up ecosystem.  Topics included building a culture of innovation and creative problem solving. These topics provide teams with resources to tackle early-stage ideation – strategies for brainstorming, framing opportunities and creating human-centred solutions that have an impact. Students loved taking part in this hands-on, high-energy workshop!

Jenny Baechler

Facilitator Jenny Baechler is the Associate Director of the Corporate Residency MBA program and a Lecturer for the Rowe School of Business at Dalhousie University. She holds an MA in Peace and Conflict Studies from the European University Centre for Peace Studies and is a PhD Candidate in Dalhousie’s Interdisciplinary PhD program. Her research integrates the fields of public administration, peace/conflict studies, international development studies and complexity theory and explores opportunities for and barriers to cross-boundary collaboration (whole-of-government) within the context of international stabilization and peacebuilding efforts.

ShiftKey Labs would like to say a huge thanks to Ms. Baechler for facilitating the workshop and for all students who participated!

Design Thinking Workshop

Dalhousie University Faculty of Computer Science Society “Game Jam”

The Dalhousie University Faculty of Computer Science Society, in collaboration with ShiftKey Labs, presented Game Jam over the weekend of October 24-25. This event provided the opportunity for all interested parties to come out and make a small game over the course of the weekend. Collaboration was key at this event, as those more experienced lent a helping hand to participants who had never even heard of a Game Jam before! This event offered an early opportunity for Computer Science students to get some hands-on learning and also allowed for those with a general interest to try their hand at game creation.

For those with less experience, the society hosted a tutorial session leading up to the Game Jam on October 14. The session was focused on how to use Unity which is a very popular engine used by teams of all sizes and suitable for games of all sizes; Unity is also one of the most accessible tools out there. The session taught the basic controls and functionality of the engine and how to set up a project.

ShiftKey Labs was thrilled to have sponsored this collaborative hands-on event by providing the venue as well as offering promotional support to get the word out to interested members at NSCAD, NSCC, SMU and Dalhousie University.

ShiftKey Labs was JAM-PACKED for this exciting event!
ShiftKey Labs was JAM-PACKED for this exciting event!

Game Demo Screenshots

A clone of the classic game "Asteroids"
A clone of the classic game “Asteroids”
A "university simulator" game
A “university simulator” game

Big Data Congress Education Day

Halifax hosted one of the world’s largest premiere Big Data for business conferences from October 19-21. The conference brought together business, government, and academia to discover how Big Data is contributing to business productivity and to our day-to-day lives. Partners of the conference included big names like Google, Boeing, Cisco, IBM, Hitachi, Adobe and NTT Data.

During the final day of this exciting conference there was an Education Event specifically designed for high school students to connect them to entrepreneurship and technology. The Department of Education and Early Childhood Development is supported approximately 600 students from all across the province to attend the event and hear about the impact that technology has on the world around them. The focus of the day was entrepreneurship, technology, hands-on learning, and engagement – which was perfectly aligned with our goals here at ShiftKey Labs. This portion of the event included guest speakers, mentoring opportunities, idea generation, workshops and more!

ShiftKey Labs had a great day promoting NS Sandboxes to high school students and facilitating a business model design challenge during this event.

Big Data Educationsandbox

The Human Face of Big Data Movie Night

On October 22, ShiftKey Labs had the pleasure of hosting a viewing of the award-winning movie The Human Face of Big Data as well as a post-movie discussion led by Stan Matwin, Director of the Institute for Big Data Analytics. During the discussion, Dr. Matwin explored key points in the movie and their impact on our personal and professional lives. This event was open to anyone who was interested – and we certainly saw a lot of interest. The timing of the event could not have been better, following on the heels of another very exciting big data event in Halifax – the Big Data Productivity Congress 2015.

ShiftKey Labs planned and executed this event and promoted it cross-institutionally. We were pleased to present both an acclaimed film and speaker to our members and broader community.

For anyone who missed it, the movie synopsis is featured below:

The Human Face of Big Data captures an extraordinary revolution sweeping, almost invisibly, through business, academia, government, healthcare, and everyday life. It’s already enabling us

  • to provide healthier lives for our children;
  • to provide our seniors with independence while keeping them safe;
  • to help us conserve precious resources like water and energy;
  • to alert us to tiny changes in our health, weeks or years before we develop a life-threatening illness;
  • to peer into our own individual genetic makeup;
  • to create new forms of life;
  • and soon, as many predict, to re-engineer our own species. And we’ve barely scratched the surface…

This massive gathering and analyzing of data in real time is allowing us to address some of humanity’s biggest challenges. Yet, as Edward Snowden and the release of the NSA documents has shown, the accessibility of all this data can come at a steep price.

Stan Matwin
Dr. Stan Matwin and students at the “Big Data” movie night


Emerging Web Technologies Meetup – Web Worker Tutorial

Do you find it difficult trying keep up with the fast-paced development in web technologies? This web-based meet-up was created as a way to learn more about these emerging technologies and tackle problems that may arise in our day-to-day lives. This can also serve as a space to work together on a common idea or problem that is plaguing the industry and as a platform to pitch an innovative idea for feedback and collaboration opportunities.

The October 13 meetup featured technology experts, students and members from the broader community who have a keen interest in technology. These meetups will happen regularly and organizers are always looking for newcomers. Whether you are a student, an entrepreneur, a professional or just someone who would like to learn more – keep an eye on the ShiftKey Labs Calendar for more information on future meetups!