Computing students develop apps to make life better

Faculty launched the annual intense May project for first year Computer Systems Technology Diploma students with the theme Conflict and Dialectic.

“We know students are thinking about the conflict and tension in the world right now, whether extreme weather, global unrest including war and disinformation, mental unrest, or rising commodity prices,” explains Carly Orr, BCIT Computing faculty project course lead for Burnaby campus.

“We want them to consider what software can do to make life easier — what processes or tasks might be tedious or complicated to do? What issues, logistics, opportunities, or needs might be unique to our times?”

The challenge

Thus 219 students are sent off, tasked with developing mobile-first web applications to help make someone’s life better, taking inspiration from one of the challenges they see today. Over five weeks, with guidance from 11 faculty members, student teams develop an end-to-end web application with various features. The project includes unexpected scope additions part way through (just like with a real client!), and milestone requirements like a 30-second pitch video.

Students use Agile methodology, with a user-centred design focus. They choose the specific technologies to use, applying the full range of skills learned in the program’s first year, and even things they self-teach during the project.

The project concepts and results are impressive, including welcoming and resettling refugees, food waste reduction, and finding a place to cool down in a heat wave. Final video presentations are inventive, some inspired by Dragon’s Den, and others shot as webcasts and team interviews.

Have an idea for a student project? The deadline to submit project ideas for second year students is August 1st. 

Audience choice winners

Audience and classmate favourites include:

Most Innovative: Tie between Hope in a Box and Buddy Up

  • Hope in a Box that could enable users to purchase and send care packages to a location of their choosing across the world. “Hearing about current events in the news, and seeing images of people’s current living state, was really eye-opening for us,” explain the creators. “It made us appreciate how comfortable our lives are in Canada, and we wanted to give back to help those in need.”
  • BuddyUp is a chatroulette web application that helps gamers find other gamers based on the games they play, including an optional chat feature.

Most Useful: Fuel Line finds fuel-efficient travel routes for users.

Best Design & Best Teamwork: MyMind offers virtual therapy sessions so both patients and therapists can feel comfortable at home, and students can attend to mental health within the constraints of their schedule.

Teamwork gets the job done

The whirlwind build offers many aha moments and lessons for the software-developers-in-training.

“We learned that your team members are the most important thing in any project,” says Towa Quimbayo, team MyMind.

“Lean on your teammates, don’t be afraid to redistribute workload, and help each other when necessary,” adds team Gen WE.

“You have proved yourselves worthy of the BCIT CST reputation of being “crunchable” and hands-on,” Carly tells students at the end of the five weeks. “Go forth and continue to be agile, reflective, and resilient developers, capable of solving problems in a complex world!”

Feature image: ShakeGuard, runner up for best design

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