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Two Russ College computer science students were runners up team in recent J.P. Morgan Code for Good Challenge.
Competing Oct. 4-5 in Columbus, Ohio, teams had 24 hours to make a fully-functional app for one of two leading nonprofit organizations: Goodwill or HandsOn Network. They were also tasked with presenting their solution to a panel of senior technology leaders and representatives from the participating nonprofits.
OHIO’s Taffie Coler and Kevin Janowiecki were on team “Code5Good” with four other students from the University of Michigan, Ohio State University and University of Virginia. They placed as runner-up in the “HandsOn Network” category. HandsOn is the world’s largest network of local volunteer centers, aiming to inspire, equip and mobilize volunteers.
“I was extremely happy, but I was really surprised because a lot of the teams said they already had experience in everything,” Coler said. “So for us to come in there, with our whole team inexperienced and learn everything new, I just thought was amazing,” she added
The team intended for Code5Good’s app to enable users to modify their HandsOn account, sign up for volunteering opportunities and use its suggestion system. The app was designed to respond to each user’s interests and skills.
“Let’s say they really liked flowers,” Coler explained. “They could say ‘I like flowers’ and find gardening opportunities like Athens Beautification Day.”
Coler said she gained important technical skills, having had little to no experience with some of the required coding tools.
“PHP is a language that is used widely over the Web for more complicated applications,” Coler explained. “In this instance I was able to use PHP to ‘translate’ and hook up the Android application to the database on the server because Android applications can't natively do that.”
David Juedes, chair of the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, said he was proud of the students’ accomplishments. “They learned a lot from the experience beyond the classroom and are excited to try again,” he said.
Coler said she hopes to use her newfound knowledge for her capstone senior design project, in which students work on teams all year on concept through execution of their own design.
”Building an app is fun – seeing information travel from the bowels of one server, into your pocket. It was really exciting to be a part of that experience.”