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UTSC students take up the app challenge

Scarborough-Rouge River MP Rathika Sitsabaiesan (left) and UTSC Vice-Principal Research Malcolm Campbell (right) congratulate IDS Connect creators (Photo by Ken Jones)

Think of it as UTSC’s version of Dragon’s Den, only here contestants are looking to impress judges with ideas for unique mobile apps that may eventually have broader market appeal.

The UTSC AppStar contest challenges students to develop an idea and even turn it into a useful mobile web app, and win some cash in the process. This year’s contest attracted 70 entrants registering close to 30 apps for development, with nine reaching the finals. The process starts from identifying a crucial issue that needs to be solved, brainstorming on how to solve it, then coming up with an app concept and developing its full functionality.

Computer Science students James Jing, Jamie Tung and Ryan D'Souza are the brains behind IDS Connect that took top prize in the Educational category.  They first met in class several years ago, connecting through their dedication to software programming. Starting with an interest in coding language, they were determined to develop something tangible that could help other students. They landed on the disconnect many students feel when they go abroad for co-op placements.

“The whole purpose of software engineering is getting a solution to an existing problem. That’s why we have to talk to people around us to know what they really need,” says D’Souza.

IDS Connect serves as a platform for International Development Studies students on overseas assignments, helping them share materials and news with other students from home.

The trio dreamed of founding their own company for their app. So they did--Society of Research and Development (SRD).  There is already a logo.

An app called Clapp won in the Campus Life category. Clapp helps clubs and associations manage their membership and facilitates admission into programming by showing club executives important data on events, student engagement and attendance rates. The app was designed by Jason Du, Denis Wu, Jason Van and Yi He.

Both teams won $3,000 prizes at the AppStar award ceremony on October 11th.

Rachid Ali, an AppStar contestant last year, launched his app at the awards ceremony. UTSC Study Space helps students find available study space on campus and checks classroom schedules in real time.

Others recognized at the awards event include:

-       2nd place, Educational category: PrerequiTree, designed by Caden Armstrong; leads students through the pre-requisites "maze."

-       2nd place, Campus Life category: Expo, designed by James Wang, Joanna Rong, Arthur Ng, Minty Zhang, and Michelle Yang; and aimed at serving as a social media platform for use by UTSC clubs.

-       Greatest design challenge: Mapian, a crowdsourcing platform and social networking app for community news designed by Ravi Ravindran, Marla Charlette, Parisa Pouramn and Adam Ortiz.

-       Best code: LingoGames, an app that assists students learning a new language using phone games. Designed by Victor Belokour and Vladimir Vassilovski.

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