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Amanda Alexander served as the U.S. project manager, working with students from around the world.

Student Voices: International Transdisciplinary Project Examines Memory Disorders

As part of Professor Les Sztandera’s qualitative and quantitative marketing research and product development iMBA class at Jefferson, I enrolled in Aalto University’s Product Development Project for the academic year.

Through the program, we studied how memory disorders affect patients and caregivers and how they can be better served. Our team worked with Helsinki-based neurologist Dr. Sanna Kotisaari, helping her develop an innovative day clinic to prevent and slow early-stage memory disorders.

I served as the U.S. project manager, and along with several other Jefferson students, we spent a week in Helsinki in October. Here, we met our sponsor and Finland-based teammates and participated in intensive product development workshops and activities. (The rest of the year we communicated through WhatsApp, Slack and Skype.)

Through fascinating research, we met many wonderful professionals and people who shared their thoughts and struggles in this field. Memory disorders have touched most individuals in some way, and they wanted to help our cause.

For the project, the Jefferson students—including Miranda Braun, Lauren Vastano and Adewale Sotubo—developed the clinic design and how it would be incorporated into patients’ lives, while the Finland-based group examined the innovative therapies within the clinic. Hailing from four continents and with backgrounds in business, design, engineering, architecture and technology, we challenged ourselves and our teammates, approaching the project in a unique way. We all learned from each other and tackled the task in a way likely not possible without our wide range of perspectives.

The project culminated in May with a gala and presentation in Finland. The event brimmed with international visitors and companies taking in the next generation of innovative ideas. It was a grand finale to eight months of hard work on a project that has greatly enriched my education and had a profound impact on my future endeavors.

At the gala in Helsinki, the team showcased their sensorial therapy room for the proposed clinic, incorporating projected scenery, holograms, light therapy, sound and aromatherapy stimulation for patients.