Congratulations to the Inaugural PIN Award Winners

February 21, 2022, 12:02pm EDT

The Partnership for Inclusive Innovation is pleased to announce the recipients of its inaugural team research recognitions, the PIN Awards! We congratulate the Augusta Happy Hands Project and the Georgia Highlands/Lake Allatoona Association Research Project for receiving the PIN Community and the PIN Student Team awards, respectively.

The PIN Community Award is given to a team consisting of a community or municipality and a researcher from a local college or university. This year’s local community focus was COVID-19.

Receiving the PIN Community Award, The Augusta Happy Hands Project gamified hand hygiene to encourage more people to practice proper hand hygiene. Backed by psychological research that positive reinforcement, specifically happy faces, can improve desired behaviors, this team of Augusta University advisors and students developed a 3D-printed sanitizer feedback unit called “Happy Hands.” It displays a red, frowning face whenever it detects people nearby. It then changes to a green smiley face when someone utilizes the hand sanitizer.

The Happy Hands team was motivated to address the sanitation issue upon learning that healthcare workers’ hands are the main method of transmission behind healthcare-associated infections.

Augusta University student Anish Sangar said: “Happy Hands represents our solution to decrease the spread of both COVID-19 and all healthcare-associated infections.” The unique nature of this project required teamwork across several departments at Augusta University, and the team found the multidisciplinary nature of their work to be both educational and remarkable. In addition to encouraging hand hygiene, the Happy Hands units are inexpensive and can be adapted for different hand sanitizer units.

The PIN Student Team Award celebrates a cohort of Georgia students working on a project that created impactful and “smart” change.

The Georgia Highlands/Lake Allatoona Association Research Project, which won that award, is a joint effort of Georgia Highlands College students, the Lake Allatoona Research Group, and the Lake Allatoona Association. Participating students collect water samples along Lake Allatoona and bring them to a lab where the samples are tested for chemicals, levels of E. Coli, total coliform bacteria, and total bacteria. This opportunity allows students to learn proper field collection techniques, research presentations., laboratory techniques, and laboratory and research skills. This project has been a life-changing introduction to research for many Georgia Highlands College students.

One student from this project has been accepted to present at the National Association of Biology Teachers, and several students aspire to present to the National Council for Undergraduate Research.

Not only are students able to get involved in the community while learning scientific skills, but the Lake Altoona Association has received valuable data and resources from the students’ work.

All teams were nominated in the fall of 2021. A panel of academia and private sector, smart city leaders selected the awardees. Through these awards, PIN aims to recognize and celebrate efforts made by collaborative community and student teams whose innovations are making positive social impact across Georgia. These small scale teams that produce strong partnerships and high-level outcomes often go unrecognized, but their work is essential to advancing Georgia’s communities.

In the first year of the PIN Awards, these two projects have exemplified “smart” progress that will greatly improve the communities in which they exist. PIN is excited to celebrate more projects in the future that raise the standard of innovation here in Georgia.

Sponsored by the Georgia Chamber of Commerce and the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, and in partnership with the Technology Association of Georgia, these teams were officially announced and celebrated at the TAG Technology Awards on February 17th. To learn more about the PIN Awards winning projects, please view the recording of our #SMARTer Together webinar featuring both teams here.

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