TechPoint’s S.O.S. Challenge yields promising solutions to problems created by COVID-19 pandemic
The coronavirus pandemic has upended just about every aspect of life around the world and has caused global leaders to question how to manage through and beyond it.
Here in Indiana, the 500+ college students and the 200+ Indiana tech sector coaches and advisors who took part in the TechPoint Summer Opportunities for Students Challenge (S.O.S.) were undaunted by the prospect of offering marketable solutions for Indiana businesses, nonprofit, tourism, sports, transportation and health organizations.
Solutions included ways for food pantries to streamline and improve safety and services, a Yelp-like app for consumers to judge which restaurants or other venues are offering the most effective COVID-19 safety measures, an app that helps chronic pain sufferers get relief through telemedicine, a way for sports fans to safely participate in sporting events and an app for getting through airport security lines with fewer virus risks.
“We were really impressed with the work the students put into these solutions, and are really happy that each of the 90 teams we assembled entered a well thought-out solution,” said Mike Langellier, TechPoint president and CEO.
The three teams with the highest evaluation point totals presented their digital solutions – Red Riding Hood, NoQ and Whistle – to Governor Eric J. Holcomb via Zoom on July 31. He described them as “fantastic” and offered suggestions for and encouragement to take the apps to market. The projects, he said, “reinforce Indiana’s place in the world where IN stands for Indiana but also innovation.”
Elevate Ventures, which supports entrepreneurs with development and capital, surprised the S.O.S. Challenge teams during the virtual presentations by inviting them to apply for its Elevate Nexus startup pitch competition.
Students were grouped into 90 teams and charged with developing a product and a marketing plan in one of nine categories of service provision. Nine teams, composed of 44 students from 11 Indiana-based colleges and universities, emerged with top honors. These teams and Team 8, the COVID-19 Outbreak Detection category Fan Favorite award winner, will share a $25,000 prize purse.
See the roster of winners, and their solutions, below. For those keeping track, Purdue had the most students represented on the Best Solutions’ teams, followed by Indiana University and Rose-Hulman. Also represented were Ball State University, Butler University, DePauw University, Ivy Tech College, Purdue University Fort Wayne, IUPUI-Indianapolis, Marian University, Valparaiso University and Wabash College. Out-of-state institutions were University of Michigan, Washington University at St. Louis, Emory University and Liberty University.
TechPoint S.O.S. Winners, Challenges & Solutions
Best Solution – Work From Home
The Challenge: Work From Home has become the norm for workers whose companies can continue working in this manner but many are concerned about the long term negative effects of remote work on productivity and necessary collaboration.
The Solution: Adaptive, an app that allows managers and teammates to view their team’s availability, break down to-do lists into manageable daily schedules and collaborate amongst the team whether they are working in the office or remotely.
Judges’ assessment: “We believe this is a creative solution to the challenge that adeptly addresses the concerns the stakeholders identified. They found it contained the most well-developed user stories, user analysis, problem solving ability, and the flexibility of the application.”
- Ashley Dawson – Project Manager, Senior, HR & Marketing Analytics, Liberty University
- Jasmeet Kaur – Senior, Business, IUPUI
- Chien-Chun Wu – Masters of HCI Design, Indiana University Bloomington
- Zach Skiles – Junior, Computer Science, Purdue University
- Elizah Weating – Senior Computer Science, Indiana University Bloomington
Special thanks to Anne Hardwick and Jonathan Lee of Renaissance Electronic Services, Tylor Garrett of ClusterTruck and Jordan Miller of Springbuk for coaching this winning team.
Best Solution – Community-based NonProfits
The Challenge: The pandemic has increased unemployment and demand for food pantry assistance, but many volunteers who would normally help process requests are staying home to mitigate exposure to the coronavirus.
The Solution: Red Riding Hood, an app for food pantries that streamlines the process of food selection and delivery. Customers can select specific baskets of food that the pantry has in stock based on their dietary restrictions and select a preferred pick-up time, which helps the pantries keep workers socially distanced.
Judges’ assessment: “We loved this idea. The user flow is seamless and intuitive. This team received a perfect technical score in this category, and has the distinction of earning the highest combined point total of any team in the competition.”
- Hannah Cougill – Project Manager, Senior, Business, Indiana University Bloomington
- Andrea Wynn – Junior, Computer Science & Software Engineering & Math, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology
- Sean O’Donovan- Sophomore, Computer Science & Data Science, Purdue University
- Joe Lyon – Junior, Computer Science & Computer Engineering, Butler University
Special thanks to Jake Friedly and Joel VanAuken of Renaissance Electronic Services for coaching this winning team.
Best Solution – Schools and Colleges
The Challenge: The pandemic caused schools and universities to pivot to online learning from in-person norm, but little structure was included to help students and instructors manage the new approach to learning.
The Solution: Uunify, an app and website that manages students’ schedules during online/hybrid learning and enables schools to manage how they deliver their materials to the students. All lectures and assignments a student needs to see are on a single page, which improves students’ ability to manage time and decrease the chance of missing something and falling behind in coursework.
Judges’ assessment: “ We were impressed by the team’s decision to pair their solution with the learning management system. We can see how a software product like this could help significantly with organization and schedules.”
- Michael Nutt – Project Manager, Senior Computer Science, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology
- Chloe Koutsoumpas – Sophomore, Biomedical Engineering, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology
- Drew Retherford – Senior, Business Management & Management Consulting, Purdue University
- Evan Nichols – Junior, Computer Science, Wabash College
Special thanks to Josh Burgess and Stephen Inglish of Baker Hill for coaching this winning team.
Best Solution – Transportation
The Challenge: Many people consider air travel to be too risky as the pandemic continues, in part because the airport security clearance process is tedious, confusing includes long, crowded wait times during peak hours.
The Solution: NoQ, an app that allows users to pre-book and reserve security slots online, eliminating security queue times and easing the overall process for passengers and TSA agents.
Judges’ assessment: “This visually appealing solution seems like a viable product that could go to market with relatively little tweaking. The solution addresses the issues of crowding that is heightened during COVID-19, but could be useful even during non-pandemic times.”
- Ashik Devakumar Project Manager, Graduate, Mechanical, Purdue-Fort Wayne
- Michael Hall Junior, Mechanical Engineering, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology
- RaviTeja Jorigay Human-Computer Interaction, IUPUI
- Sumadhuri Damerla Graduate, Computer Science, Purdue-Fort Wayne
- Meroune Baoch Software Engineer, Sophomore, Ivy Tech College
- Dhruvin Patel Freshman, Mechanical Engineering, Purdue University
Special thanks to Joseph Cudby of NEXT Studios and Andy Ragozzino of Republic Airways for coaching this winning team.
Best Solution – Tourism
The Challenge: The pandemic has drastically reduced tourism and residents’ patronage of businesses in Indianapolis as consumers are concerned about risk factors associated with visiting restaurants, bars and other entertainment venues.
The Solution: Indigo, an app that takes a Yelp-like approach to crowdsourcing business data via ratings and reviews to enable users to see the COVID-19 safety protocols taken by various restaurants, hotels, airlines, tours, and other attractions and others’ first-hand experiences at these locations
Judges’ assessment: “This “Yelp-like” system is likely to resonate with visitors. The interface is visually great and easy to use. This team received the only perfect technical score in its category! Well done!”
- Aniket Agnihotri – Project Manager, Computer Science, Sophomore, Purdue University
- Jack Deputy – Senior, Informatics, Business and Financial Literacy, Indiana University
- Halley Martin – Senior, Graphic Design, Psychology and Studio Art, Marian University
- Cage Thompson – Senior, Finance, Indiana University
- Xinye Yang (Angela) – Senior, Math and Economics, DePauw University
Special thanks to Joe Rogalski, John Knight and Garry Marty of Delta Faucet Company for coaching this winning team.
Best Solution – Sports & Entertainment
The Challenge: Much of the fun of a sporting event is being with a crows of passionate, deeply involved fans watching a game. These gatherings and activities are too risky in the midst of a pandemic but demand for similar activity is soaring.
The Solution: Whistle, a website that allows fans to remotely watch sporting events and predict what action will happen next and earn points toward prizes for accurate predictions.
Judges’ assessment: “This was a very creative idea with a well-organized presentation. The team demonstrated an in-depth understanding of the audience, the market potential and the enjoyment users would get from competing during the game. The website is well laid out given the timeframe the team had to work and allows the “customer” to engage with the product rather easily. “
- Michael Boyajian – Project Manager, Senior, Marketing, Valparaiso University
- Chris Breuer – Junior, Finance and Quantitative Science Student, Emory University
- Sumeeth Guda – Sophomore, Data Science and Mathematical Statistics, Purdue University
- Katelyn Le – Senior, Pharmacy, Butler University
- Dianne Santos – Senior, Computer Science Student, Purdue University
Special thanks to Adam Roark and Dylan Brenneman of Atrium for coaching this winning team.
Best Solution – Telehealth
The Challenge: Patients suffering from chronic pain generally must visit their physicians to continue treatment. Telemedicine has yet to offer easy solutions for them.
The Solution: PainTrakr, an app that enables chronic pain patients to easily report their symptoms to their doctors, keep track of medications and compile patient data for clinicians.
Judges’ assessment: “This is a great concept that could easily be marketed today. We believe it has huge potential to track daily pain and functional symptoms for chronic pain patients. Additionally, it’s a great looking mobile app!”
- Alex Smith – Project Manager, Junior, Biology, Washington University in St. Louis
- Ash Fowler – Senior Computer Science, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology
- Patrick Haimbaugh -Junior, Computer Science, Purdue University
- Jacob Haggarty – Sophomore, Finance, Accounting & Business Analytics, Indiana University Bloomington
- Claire Mihalko – Junior, Chemical Engineering & Chemistry, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology
- Jayanth Tatikonda – Sophomore, Biomedical Engineering, University of Michigan
Special thanks to William O’Hayer of Lena Works and Satish Dadhwal of Infosys for coaching this winning team.
Best Solution – COVID-19 Outbreak Detection
The Challenge: As colleges and universities seek to safely open campus, many are concerned about the efficacy and affordability of the planned measures.
The Solution: GoVidU, an app that monitors COVID-19 “hot spots” on campuses, requires symptom check-ins from students and allows for active communication between students and administration.
Judges’ assessment: “We believe this team did great research and put together a very strong and ambitious project. It serves an important use case, and the project came together with nice execution and marketing/support planning.”
- Samantha Becker – Project Manager, Junior, Healthcare & Business, Butler University
- Rachel Lindsey – Junior, Pharmacy, Purdue University
- Sripranav Potturu – Sophomore, Computer Science, Purdue University
- Anh Le – Senior, Computer Science, DePauw University
- Mirica Yancey – Senior, Computer Science, Valparaiso University
Special thanks to Daniel Robertson and Brad Mills of the Indiana Biosciences Research Institute for coaching this winning team.
Best Solution – Restaurants & Small Business
The Challenge: Identify a solution to regularly test/monitor Indiana’s citizens, quickly identify hotspots, and enable contact tracing and other measures to mitigate and limit further outbreaks.
The Solution: Insight, a web-based calculator platform that enables restaurants and small businesses to input expenses and revenue data to adequately suggest new prices for products and services. It is a user-friendly platform that calculates estimates based on the current changes to the market and allows the user to interact with the data through the visualization.
Judges’ assessment: “We were impressed by both the practical and empathetic approaches to this model, knowing this is very needed both now and in the future. We really enjoyed the visualization the team provided and the level of detail your design provided.”
- Lucas Maggos – Project Manager, Senior, Finance, Indiana University Bloomington Kelley School of Business
- Kayla Smith – Senior, Telecommunications, Emerging Media, Marketing and African American Studies, Ball State University
- Nolan Cauley – Senior, Computer Science, Media Persuasion, Spanish and Music, Indiana University Bloomington
- Shivam Gupta – Master’s student, Human-Computer Interaction, IUPUI
Special thanks to Courtney Cameron and Leon Ravenna of KAR Global for coaching this winning team.
Fan Favorite – COVID Detection Team 8
The Challenge: Hoosiers do not have a way of adopting and effectively using a single news source that gives information on every aspect of COVID-19 for their area.
The Solution: COVID-Hero for the Rescue. It’s an all-in-one app containing all the resources for COVID detection and safety. This one-stop-shop kind of news source keeps users up to date on the spread of Covid-19 while simultaneously encouraging them to make more well-informed decisions.
- Hunter Sylvester, Business Analyst, Data Science, Marian University
- Akhil Vadlamudi, Project Management, Business Analyst, Indiana University
- Mauminah Raina, Data Science, Software Developer, IUPUI
- Shreedhar Pandey, Software Developer, Project Management, Valparaiso University
- Sabrina Chowdhury, Software Developer, Data Science, IUPUI
Special thanks to Gabby VanAlstine, Nicole MacLean and KC Baker of Emplify for coaching this winning team.