OU Students Generate Solutions to Opioid Crisis at “Ideathon”

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ATHENS, Ohio — A group of Ohio University students came together Monday to propose ideas to help combat the state’s opioid crisis.

A group of students brainstorm possible solutions to the opioid crisis during Monday’s “Ideathon” (Aaron Payne)

The “Ohioans Over Opioids Ideathon” allowed students to learn more about the fight against substance use disorders and then brainstorm ideas to make a submission to Governor John Kasich’s Opioid Technology Challenge.

The challenge was created to generate new approaches and technology that will expand on the work already being done in the fight against opioid addiction and turn the tide.

Rick Hodges, executive in residence at the College of Health Sciences and Professions, believes the future professionals who participated in the Ideathon could generate these solutions.

“They have access to the newest information and they’re on the cusp of the demographic that’s confronting this problem,” Hodges said. “I think it’s the best place to look for a solution.”

The approximately 20 students were selected out of a pool of more than 130 students majoring in studies that include engineering, criminology, social work, and more. And many of them had a personal stake in the project.

“The students were asked to send us a one-paragraph explanation of why they were interested in being on the team and many of the students have personal stories of how opioids had negatively impacted them, or their family members, or friends,” Regina Schwarts, Senior Director of Communications for the college said.

The students were divided into small groups and asked to generate ideas based on different aspects of the opioid crisis.

Columbus-based Deloitte Consulting LLP, which works with Fortune 500 companies to develop innovation strategies, worked with the students to narrow down their ideas and select the best one.

“To bring [our expertise] into this area with students to help them think of something that might be useful for an incredibly socially important problem is exciting for us,” Keith Cherry, principal at Deloitte Consulting said. “And hopefully the students are enjoying it too.”

Deloitte Consulting and Ohio University will help the students create a professional presentation to submit to the state by December 15.

The governor’s challenge consists of three phases.

If the students are selected as winners of the first “Idea Phase” early next year, they will receive a cash prize and move on to the second “Technical Challenge” phase in the spring of 2018.


Anyone seeking help with a substance use disorder can call the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services’ information and referral phone number at 1-877-275-6364.