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Global ISPE Student & Young Professional Hackathon – Exhilarating & Educational!

Student & Young Professionals Hackathon participants

The inaugural Global ISPE Student & Young Professionals’ Hackathon at 2019 ISPE Annual Meeting & Expo brought together 36 students and Young Professionals from around the world to compete in a team-oriented, highly educational workshop. The Hackathon demonstrated industry-relevant, real-world issues while enabling the students and Young Professionals to obtain project management and collaboration skills and network with colleagues and industry professionals at all levels.

The participants were put into six multi-disciplinary teams, representing hypothetical project teams established to develop programs and functions required in a pharmaceutical company’s manufacturing facility in 2030. Each team was given a unique challenge. Using materials from past ISPE Facility of the Year Award Category winning pharmaceutical manufacturing facility projects, the participants were tasked with solving these challenges and developing presentations to share their innovative ideas and solutions. Coaches were on hand throughout the two-day Hackathon to mentor and assist the students and Young Professionals. Challenges given to the teams were:

  • Future Expansion
  • Resiliency Against Environmental Event
  • Supply Chain
  • Future Flexibility
  • Environmental Impact
  • Serialization & Resource Usage (including people)

At the completion of the workshop, the teams presented their solutions to a group of ISPE Industry Professionals and Past-Chairs, who determined which team had developed the most appropriate and innovative presentation and identified the winning team, which was announced at the ISPE Member and Award Breakfast.

I signed up for the Hackathon, because I wanted to learn more about the pharma industry. This experience ended up being so much more!  I knew I’d have the chance to discuss current challenges with fellow Young Professional’s & students, but we also had insightful conversations with industry leaders. These industry professionals had the chance to share their experiences & different perspectives to help us frame our project. The hackathon challenge allowed for us to explore various challenges in pharma manufacturing that we will soon encounter and provided a unique platform for discussion on possible improvements. It was a great event to learn and network, and I would highly recommend attending next year! 

Sarah-Catherine Dannelly, GEMU Valves, Inc., CaSA Chapter

Our gratitude to the many ISPE Volunteers who helped with this endeavor – it could not have happened without you!

ISPE Chapters: Boston Area, Delaware Valley, Greater LA Area, Midwest, New Jersey, San Diego, and San Francisco/Bay Area, each of whom provided support for a Welcome Reception on Friday, 25 October, giving Hackathon participants the opportunity to begin networking, meet their weekend colleagues, and kick-off the exciting weekend in a comfortable and fun environment.

Each team reflected a thoughtful mixture of diverse backgrounds and experiences which created an atmosphere of creativity, innovation and camaraderie. This event is invaluable to any student or young professional interested in furthering their knowledge and paving the way for a long and successful career!

Andria Thomas, Senior, Solano Community College Biotech Manufacturing Program, San Francisco/Bay Area Chapter

ISPE Foundation, which provided ISPE Foundation and Women in Pharma® Student Travel Grants to 12 students from the US, Europe, and Asia, enabling them to attend ISPE Annual Meeting & Expo 2019 and participate in the Hackathon.

For me, the Hackathon was a lot more than just a competition. I improved in many aspects. It unlocked my potential to the light, and I learned to share what I can do with people… my every moment in Las Vegas is valuable and it still inspires me to improve myself.

Onwara Wongwatcharamongkol, ISPE Student Thailand

FOYA ContributionsFacility of the Year Awards (FOYA) articles were available to all team members as background material for their research, and two companies were used as specific examples on which to base their team challenges and solutions – Jazz Pharmaceuticals (2017 Project Execution Category Winner) and BioMarin Pharmaceuticals (2018 Project Execution Category Winner). Thank you to all FOYA program participants, whose outstanding work is important not only for our industry, but as models of exemplary Facilities of the Future for our students and young professionals.

The topics were all real-world issues in the biopharmaceutical industry, which was great for students as we don't learn those in universities. I gained experience working with people from different background/age/educational level, as well as valuable networking opportunities.

Yongao (Mary) Xiong, UC Davis PhD Program, San Francisco/Bay Area Chapter

The Task Team helped ISPE identify content and develop challenges for the Hackathon, and coordinate and manage the event.

Heather L. Bennett-Kelley
Project Manager/ Engineer
ACCO Engineered Systems
Placeholder Person Graphic
John Clarke
Senior GMDP Inspector
Wendy T. Haines, PhD, DABT, CQA
Associate Director of Technical and Scientific Services
PharmEng Technology
Alex Schramm
Automation Engineer
Banks Integration Group

My hackathon experience was tremendous. I enjoyed being tasked with supply chain, something I had zero experience in prior. It was rewarding to apply my engineering mindset and problem-solving skills to an area a bit different than what I'm used to, and I was quite happy with our team's performance. I enjoyed working on a multidisciplinary team and would recommend the experience to a colleague.

James Sinoimeri, Northeastern University, Boston Area Chapter

Experienced Young Professional & Industry Professional Coaches as well as the Task Team members, who were on hand throughout the event to mentor and assist the teams.

Dante Amatangelo
Executive Consultant
PQE Group
Nissan Cohen
Biopharmaceutical Water Doc
Placeholder Person Graphic
Stephen Hall
Chief Process Engineer
Genesis Engineers
Monique L. Sprueill, PMP
Director, GCP Process Quality Lead
Bristol Myers Squibb
Zen-Zen Yen
Head of Maintenance Operations
Bayer AG

The 2019 Hackathon provided me with the opportunity to learn from and be guided by leading professionals in the field where I was able to understand the connection between R&D and manufacturing.

Daniel Maldano, Recent Graduate, Rowan University, NJ Chapter

Judges -  Judged the six teams’ presentations. While all the presentations were outstanding and the decision was difficult, the judges selected Team Four (Challenge: Future Flexibility) as the winning team for its’ members’ futuristic mindset, workforce of the future, teamwork dynamic, and incorporation of marketing and branding in their presentation.

Michael A. Arnold, RPh
Senior Director, Strategic Partnerships & Past ISPE Board Chair
Pfizer Global Clinical Supplies
Heather L. Bennett-Kelley
Project Manager/ Engineer
ACCO Engineered Systems
Eamon P. Judge
Global Engineering Advisor - European FM Leader
Eli Lilly and Company
Kelly M. Keen
Vice President, Head of PMO Project Management
Celonic Ag
Antonio R. Moreira, PhD
Vice Provost, Academic Affairs
University of Maryland
Arthur D. Perez, PhD
Retired Director Information Governance and Management
Novartis Pharmaceuticals
Christian Woelbeling
Executive Industry Advisor

Presenting my team’s hard work to ISPE members and industry leaders added to the excitement and overall sense of accomplishment, as when we received feedback and support from our fellow hackathon attendees.

Kathrine Parga, Keck Graduate Institute, Master of Engineering in Biopharmaceutical Processing, 2021, Greater Los Angeles Chapter

ISPE Student & YP Hackathon Participants:

Team One: Nate Cunningham, YP, Azzur Group; Daniel Maldonado Herrera, Recent Graduate, Rowan University, Aaron Koch, North Carolina State University; Maria Rivera, Keck Graduate Institute; Andria Thomas, Solano Community College Biomanufacturing Program; Onwara Wongwatcharamongkol, Silkaporn University, Thailand

Team Two: Adetayo Adeboyejo, Keck Graduate Institute; Ramila Khadka, North Carolina Central University; Chaikere Phasuriyavi, Chulalongkorn University, Thailand; Cy Rodriguez, YP, PPD Pharmaceutical Product Development, Philippines; Jiazhen Rong, Harvard University; Indraj Rooprai, East Carolina University; Jitha Sridhar, Keck Graduate Institute

Team Three: Yazmin Estrada, Keck Graduate Institute; Nyasha Madziva, YP, Azzur Group; Salokya Sarira, University of Minnesota; Adrian Schimek, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology; James Sinoimeri – Northeastern University; Yan Chun Yeoh, Thomas Jefferson University

Team Four: Sarah-Catherine Dannelly, YP, GEMU Valves, Inc.; Phuong (Sophie) Le, University of Minnesota; Elice Kitchen-McKinley, North Carolina State University; Yemisi Mohammed, North Carolina Central University; Matthew Ong, National University of Singapore; Kathrine M. Parga, Keck Graduate Institute

Hackathon Winning Team
Hackathon Winning Team

Team Five: Dea’vion Godfrey, North Carolina Central University; Mustafa Gunduz, Fachhochschule Nordwestschweiz (FHNW), Parizad Panthaki, Keck Graduate Institute; Chaiyakarn Pornpitchanarong, Silkaporn University, Thailand; Mehraud Razzaghi, University of Minnesota; Nick Surdyka, YP, Takeda

Team Six: Brian Avina, Keck Graduate Institute; Latisha Rene Hightower, North Carolina Central University; Brian Hogan, Keck Graduate Institute; Robin Schiemer, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology; Jordan Taranto, University of Minnesota; Yongao Xiong, UC Davis

We had a blast working together, leaning on the strengths and skillsets that each of us brought into the team, discussing all of the proposed solutions, and collaborating on the presentation. We debated, joked, argued, laughed, got back to work, assigned speakers, and powered through the presentation within 24 hours. The coaches gave us insightful comments and suggestions based on their experience and expertise in facility architecture, bioprocessing, manufacturing, and quality assurance, which helped us to evaluate further and articulate our ideas, and we were able to continuously improve and refine our ideas.

Phuong (Sophie) Le, University of Minnesota, Midwest Chapter

Congratulations to the winning team – Team Four: Sarah-Catherine Dannelly, GEMU Valves, Inc.; Kathrine M. Parga, Keck Graduate Institute, Phuong (Sophie) Le, University of Minnesota; Matthew Ong, National University of Singapore; Elice Kitchen-McKinley, North Carolina State University; and Yemisi Mohammed, North Carolina Central University. Winners each receive a complimentary one-year membership to ISPE.

The hackathon experience at the ISPE Annual Meeting in Las Vegas was one of the most educational experiences I’ve had - it allowed me to put to work everything I’ve learned in school and at my internship, bring me out of my comfort zone, and pushed me to rise to the challenge. The experience was demanding yet rewarding. Because our team had a variety of backgrounds we all were able to come together and solve a problem, and I think working as a team the entire time, rather than a “divide and conquer” strategy, is what brought us together in a positive way. Being part of the Hackathon is something I will carry with me forever. The connections you’ll make will last a lifetime and the exposure to this vast network could be key to your success.

Elice Kitchen-McKinley – North Carolina State University, CaSA Chapter