Western Engineering PhD candidates win President’s Challenge with Mobile MRI


From l-to-r: Maxine Montpetit, Jaimy Hannah, Riddhi Gadre and Glen DSouza. (photo by Brandon MacIntosh/Ivey)

Western Engineering PhD candidates Riddhi Gadre and Glen DSouza and their team, Mobile Diagnostic Imaging, have been named winners of Western University’s inaugural President’s Challenge. 

The challenge saw hundreds of students, using interdisciplinary knowledge and tapping into Western’s entrepreneurial expertise, to tackle a major societal challenge – keeping Canadians out of the hospital.

“At Western, we really want to challenge our community to think about big solutions to tough problems – and how they can make an impact – especially our students,” Western President Alan Shepard said. 

“The President’s Challenge is an opportunity to bring forward unique, creative ideas while also developing the entrepreneurial and leadership skills they need for their future careers.”

Gadre and DSouza’s team wanted to answer the question: What if a change in access could cut MRI wait times in half?

Gadre, a third-year chemical and biochemical engineering PhD candidate supervised by Western Engineering professors Kibret Mequanint and Ajay Ray, said one case study the team reviewed in the United Kingdom showed wait times were cut from 13 to six weeks using a mobile model at one hospital.

“We want to enhance the reach of our healthcare system into every corner, with effective time management for appointments allowing for quicker diagnosis and better patient outcomes,” she said.

The idea is to start with mobile imaging in major urban centres, home to large hospitals, and then work toward more rural locations.

Gadre and DSouza, a PhD candidate in chemical and biochemical engineering supervised by Western Engineering professors Madhumita Ray, Anand Prakash and Chunbao Xu, partnered with team members Maxine Montpetit, a master’s student in neuroscience and Jaimy Hannah, a PhD candidate in psychology, to enter the competition. 

The President’s Challenge was launched with over 400 registrants and 120 teams, representing every faculty at Western University. There were 53 final submissions, of which ten were selected for the Semi-Finals at Western University on March 13. The top five teams presented at the finals on April 5 in Toronto.

With files from Megan Stacey, Western News