U of M Mobile App Challenge lifts emerging tech entrepreneurs

by Guest

UMN Mobile app ChallengeBy: Kevin C. Walker

After two semesters and with up to $10,000 in prizes at stake, four teams of student developers pitched judges for the 2012 University of Minnesota Mobile App Challenge last Friday.

Co-sponsored by the Office of Information Technology (OIT) and the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP), the Mobile App Challenge aims to reproduce the entrepreneurial experience for current undergrad students at the University of Minnesota through ideating, building and launching a new mobile phone app.

It began this past fall, when over 100 teams submitted a mobile app idea that they believed to be creative, innovative, and salable. Those  initial concepts were eventually weeded out and narrowed down through a timeline of delivery dates, combined with financial and logistical support from the University to help them transform their ideas into a functional reality.

“It’s been a real privilege to see these teams go from an idea to wrestling the development process, to giving formal presentation,” stated judging panelist Patrick Haggerty from the UMN Office of Information Technology. “Every one of them should be proud of what they stood up here today and presented.” From 100 to 10 to 5 and now — only four remain:

The Android-based Metro Transit Bus Tracking App [video] serves to simplify transit through the metro area by gathering bus arrival times, stop locations, bus headings and other route information. Its developing team is Ben Demaree and Trevor Riles.

The Mobile Language Learning App [video] helps users learn languages more efficiently by finding texts that match the level of the learner so they can study more effectively. Its developing team is Patrick Farrel, Michael Burling, Parathan Siva, Kyle Marek-Spartz, and Anna Mandy.

The iOS Wander App [video] is a goal-based itinerary application that builds in checkpoints within the users daily lives to help discover a city’s highlights and “hidden gems” that they don’t yet know about. Its developing team is Natalie Doud and Nate Martin.

The Android-based Academic Student Services App [video] serves to help students keep track of their every day needs relating to school, including class locations and start times, course information, and grades. Its developing team is Devin Martens, Kevin Skrei, and Daniel Brinzila.

“The most important thing from this challenge was the learning that took place, it’s not the prize,” mentioned Farhad Anklesaria, Senior Educational Technology Consultant at OIT. “We’re thrilled.”

“This type of app event shows that young people have the advantage,” stated Marvin Marshak, event Founder and Director of Undergrad Research at UMN. “Proof that you can go out at an incredibly young age and contribute to society.”

Judges have one week to deliberate before the winning student team of this years Mobile App Challenge is announced on Friday, March 30, 2012.  Stay tuned…