college finalist

Dream it. Code it. Win it. – $20,000 Prize

David Taitz and Hikari Senju  from Harvard College: Balloon

Hikari Senju: “In November last year, since I wanted to get into building iOS programs, I built a rather simple map based notification app one weekend. As winter break started, I wanted to keep working on this application, and decided to reach out to my college room-mate, David Taitz, if he would want to join me on working on this project. As we discussed the possibilities for this app, we realized that there was a need for college students to quickly invite a large group of relevant people to their location. Whether it was a pickup soccer game, or a study session, there was currently no direct way to communicate to large groups other than through group emails. But not everyone actually reads large email threads because they can quickly become cluttered.”

David Taitz: “Hikari and I saw an inefficiency in the way we organize events on campus and communicate over large groups. Each Harvard house has residential house list that is essentially that allows students to send impromptu requests to the people who are relevant to you based on location (people who live in your dorm). So, we set out to redesign this platform to encompass more relevancy based on the filtering the audience of the messages and redefining who is relevant to you in terms of location based on your mobile location.”

Dream it. Code it. Win it. – $15,000 Prize

Kevin Shi, Aman Grewal, Alyssa Davis, David Skehktman, Robert (Bobby) Walsh from The Cooper Union: Mycrophone


Kevin Shi: “For me, it was a combination of a few things. From an opportunistic point of view, developing an app was a near 0 startup-cost chance to really make an impact. I told myself that all I had to do was learn to program, and I could accomplish something incredible. It turns out that there are few extra steps within that process, but that initial mindset was enough to convince me to stay up those late nights and really focus on developing the app. From a (shy) student’s perspective, this app was a way for me to reach out to students who need help most. Mycrophone gives introverted students the opportunity to participate and ask questions in class without having to raise their hand and speak out in front of their fellow students. For me, it was a way to overcome the sickness of classroom silence. It was about giving those invisible students a voice.”

David Shekhtman: “I along with my friends Aman Grewel and Kevin Shi were afraid of asking
questions during physics lecture. When our Principles of Design teacher, Professor Lima, proposed that we design an application that could organize a question and answer interface during presentation, we immediately got
involved. The reason why I helped code the Mycrophone application was that difficult teachers intimidate students and prevent them from asking questions. As a shy student, I thought coding Mycrophone would be a justice to all those who suffer from the fear of attracting a teacher’s attention. The need to ask a question cannot be ignored. Hence, Mycrophone was to be created to serve as a platform for students like me. Through Mycrophone, I hoped that the fear of asking questions would be eliminated.”

Aman Grewal: “We’ve all had experiences of difficulty in communicating in lecture halls. Sometimes we don’t want to interrupt the professor, and sometimes we can’t hear what are peers are saying. My teammates and I were talking and agreed that there should be a better solution. After talking professors and fellow classmates, all of whom agreed with us, we decided to follow through and make Mycrophone.”


Dream it. Code it. Win it. – $10,000 Prize

Stanley Martone, Connor Croteau, Thomas Nassr, Jennifer Lepore, Matthew Cameron, Matthew Logan, Steve Oliveira from Quinnipiac University: Kricket


Thomas Nassr: “We made our application because it was something we wanted to do, physically. I just wanted to be able to tell my neighbor to quiet down in a respectful way, without giving out my personal information or involving the police. Personally, I think police should be doing other things besides knocking on doors and saying ‘quiet down.'”

TradingScreen Technology Entrepreneurship Award – $10,000

Timothy Borny from James Madison University: Oaddo



Tim Borny: “The idea for this project originated over two years ago. Originally, the focus was on empathy- on finding a way to help people understand the viewpoint of others from entirely different backgrounds. After a lot of thinking I came to the conclusion that empathy is based on shared understanding, and that perhaps the best thing I could do was to try and create a platform that brings people to a mutual understanding of reality. This is the reason there is such a large focus on internalization of this project.

I felt so strongly about this idea that I decided I needed to pick up a minor in computer science and try to teach myself how to program in order to make it happen. Seeing the project come together over the last several months has been one of the most gratifying things I have ever done.”

Dream it. Code it. Win it. – Prize for Innovation, $5,000

Gabriela Gualpa from Quinnipiac University: Unbreak



Gabriela Gualpa: “Unbreak, an app created to ease the lives of property managers and tenants by optimizing the process of handling work orders requests. Specifically, I was inspired by my dad. From when I was a little kid he was always involved in real estate, I grew up watching firsthand the process of buying, managing and selling multi-family homes. Over family dinners at night my dad would share the trouble he was having with all the paper work he had to deal with from leaky faucets to broken doors managing the several hundred units he had. That’s what made me think of the idea, why not help my dad with something so seemingly easy. At Quinnipiac it has constantly been instilled in me as an Industrial Engineer, to think of myself as an individual that creates efficiency and optimizes processes. I had recently completed a core coding class the semester before and knew I was equipped with the basic coding skills to help, so I set to work and created Unbreak.”

Tekserve – Prize for Women in Technology, $5,000

Catherine D’Ignazio from the MIT Media Lab: The Babbling Brook

             Tekserve_Women in Tech Finalist_ MITTekserve_MIT WIT Finalist_TheBabblingBrook


Catherine D’Ignazio: I was interested in creative ways that we humans could understand and relate to the natural world around us. I wanted to create a kind of bridge between humans and water that felt “natural” for humans but would also make them laugh. Natural for humans these days means something that is networked and hyper-mediated, so that’s what Babbling Brook is!”