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Davis United World College Scholars


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A Creative Thinker's Multiple Impacts

Nishant Ganesh Kumar’s career at Johns Hopkins has taken him from a national gathering of technology innovators to the Baltimore County Jail. 
As a biomedical engineering student, Nishant (India, UWC Mahindra, Johns Hopkins ’13) led an interdisciplinary design team—the focus of a series of courses in the program—in a yearlong project that produced a safer, cost-saving new tool for doing “punch” biopsies to take skin samples. 
While volunteering as a tutor in the correctional center, he saw the chance to make more of a difference by creating Boot Up the Jail, a new program that trains inmates in job and software skills on computers newly retired by Johns Hopkins.
“Students who major in biomedical engineering typically don’t have much spare time — but Nishant has stepped up as a leader,” reflected Amy Brokl, Johns Hopkins campus liaison for the Davis UWC Scholars Program. “He has sought out mentors and supporters in a way that’s incredibly genuine and real.”
To develop their design team project, Nishant and his student colleagues talked with clinicians at the Johns Hopkins Hospital and School of Medicine. Dermatologists urged them to redesign the technology for punch biopsies, which currently involves using several instruments to extract a skin sample. 
“We came up with a way to integrate all these procedures into one device,” potentially cutting costs by 70 percent, Nishant said. The team was chosen to present its work at Open Minds 2012, the annual exhibition of the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance. Also in 2012, Nishant was one of seven students honored with a Legacy Prize by the Creativity Foundation of Massachusetts for showing “great creative promise and inspiration.”
At the Baltimore jail, Nishant was a veteran tutor when he wondered what would really help inmates prepare to find work and continue learning post-release. Through his Boot Up the Jail project, JHU volunteers now help prisoners learn to do spreadsheets, resumes, budgeting, word processing, PowerPoint, and other skills on university-donated computers. 
“Nishant has grown enormously since he was a freshman, but he has always been so gracious and thoughtful,” Amy Brokl observed. “He has taken advantage of all that Hopkins has to offer.”