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Two Drew University Students Compete in UPitchNJ Startup Competition

Hailey Hearney C’25 and Yan Zheng Lew C’25 create app for tracking motor diseases

May 2022 – Two first-year Drew University Action Scholars, Hailey Hearney C’25 and Yan Zheng Lew C’25, entered the state-wide UPitchNJ start-up competition.

When they learned that developing an app was a project option, Hearney and Lew jumped at the chance.

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The team's pitch presentation highlighted their MoveMetrics app idea.

The two, under the mentorship of Minjoon Kouh, associate professor of physics and neuroscience, developed their app idea: MoveMetrics, an app that would allow users to self-record and monitor the progression of their motor symptoms so their medical care teams are kept well informed.

“It was definitely tougher than I expected it to be,” said Lew, who plans to major in computer science and physics and minor in mathematics.

“We were essentially trying to create a startup health tech business, so there were many aspects of it on the business side that I wasn’t expecting. The computer science aspect was very eye-opening, as I was able to really delve into the programming side of things and learn about all the different kinds of software available that would come in handy for our project.”

Having never worked on developing an app—or even any sort of STEM project—Hearney came away with a great deal of knowledge.

“My grandfather has Parkinson’s so this project is something that I felt a personal connection to and really wanted to develop further,” she said. “I learned more about motor diseases, the app development process, and how to work as a team in this area of study. I also learned and experienced the labor that goes into creating this type of product, such as researching competitors, conducting stakeholder interviews, and drawing up prototypes.”

For Hearney and Lew, the opportunity to enter their project into the UPitchNJ competition, sponsored by Nokia Bell Labs, helped them take their idea—which they’ll continue to develop as an undergraduate research project on campus—to the next level. They compiled a five-minute video presentation detailing their idea and pitching the app.

“Throughout the process, we gained feedback from outside mentors, which we then used to help set up an action plan for the future,” said Hearney. “Working with my team and our mentor from Nokia Bell Labs also helped me develop my communication, time management, and professional skills.”

“I was exposed to new things and actively engaged in something that I was passionate about,” said Hearney. “I am very excited to continue working on the project next semester!”

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