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From left: Dr. Andy Hauger, Lynsey Steinberg, Nitish Sood, Bill Gray and Anish Sangari designed and implemented a device called Happy Hands. Not pictured is Srilatha Neshangi from Augusta University Health.

Augusta University team wins state innovation award

A team of innovators at Augusta University recently won the Partnership for Inclusive Innovation’s Community Award, which, for 2022, was themed around addressing the effects of COVID-19 in the local community.

The award was for Happy Hands, a device that uses positive reinforcement to encourage good hand hygiene. The device senses when a person approaches a hand-sanitizing station and flashes a red frowny face. If the person stops and dispenses hand sanitizer, it flashes a green smiley face.

The mission of PIN is to empower “inclusive innovation” in the state of Georgia — the idea that all Georgians, regardless of geographic, racial, gender and socioeconomic background, should have the tools to drive advancements and discoveries.

The PIN Awards serve to recognize collaborative teams accomplishing meaningful community research with smart technologies in the areas of sustainability, resiliency and inclusivity. According to PIN, many small-scale community research projects that result in strong partnerships, high-level outcomes and productive research teams go unrecognized for their efforts, so the awards program serves to acknowledge these projects as the cornerstone of advancing Georgia’s communities.

The design of the Happy Hands device was led by Lynsey Steinberg, a medical illustrator in the Center for Instructional Innovation, Dr. Andy Hauger, professor in the College of Science and Mathematics, and Bill Gray, manager of educational technology in the College of Education. The project was also supported by Nitish Sood and Anish Sangari, students in the Medical College of Georgia, and Srilatha Neshangi, infection prevention manager at Augusta University Health.

According to PIN, Community Award-winning projects must:

  • Show a clear connection between the project work and the selected theme
  • Be a joint effort between a local university researcher and a community, with preference for projects with team members from comprehensive and state universities, state colleges, technical colleges and HBCUs
  • Have work that shows a tangible outcome that has public benefit
  • Feature multidisciplinary work and ideally feature interdisciplinary sciences or departments

At noon Feb. 24, PIN will host a SMARTer Together webinar where project members Steinberg, Hauger and Gray will discuss the device and its impact. Register for the webinar online.

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Written by
Paige Boeke

Paige Boeke is a communications coordinator for Communications and Marketing at Augusta University. Contact her to schedule an interview on this topic or with one of our experts at

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Written by Paige Boeke

Jagwire is your source for news and stories from Augusta University. Daily updates highlight the many ways students, faculty, staff, researchers and clinicians "bring their A games" in classrooms and clinics on four campuses in Augusta and locations across the state of Georgia.

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