March 7, 2017 -- One of the hardest things about leaving an elderly loved one with a caregiver is not knowing all that goes on in the day – such as what medications were taken, what meals were eaten and what kind of pain they may have experienced. And that’s where students from Westchester Community College see an opportunity.
“We conducted focus groups and wanted to come up with a way to have more interaction between families and caregivers,” said Laura Antonucci, a marketing student at WCC. “Our app is called Connect Care, and it would help with connecting and organizing information. It also would include a family tree, so caregivers can remind seniors about family birthdays, recitals, anniversaries, and other important events like that.”
The Westchester Community College team is one of dozens competing in the 3rd Annual #WestchesterSmart Mobile App Development Bowl, an initiative started by Westchester County Executive Robert P. Astorino and Pace University’s Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems.
The contest is designed to put the best young technology minds to work building mobile applications that will improve life for people age 65 and older. More than 440 students are registered to compete in this year’s Mobile App Development Bowl – the biggest yet – representing Westchester, Rockland, New York City, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts and even as far away as Scotland.
On Friday, teams attended workshops at Pace’s Pleasantville campus, where they received coaching from industry experts on how to fine-tune the design, coding and presentation of their apps.
“We are so proud of all of you in this room,” County Executive Robert P. Astorino told a room full of students Friday. “The best and the brightest are coming to Westchester, and the best and the brightest are already in Westchester.... This is what makes Westchester Smart – our talented young people, eager and able to do innovative new things. And in the case of the App Bowl, you’re putting technology to work for the generation that has come before you.”
“This year’s Mobile App Development Bowl is the biggest and best,” said Dr. Jonathan Hill, Dean of the Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems at Pace University. “Three years ago, we had 170 registered participants. Last year’s contest had more than 250. This year we’re at 440. I think we are on to something here, Mr. Astorino. I think we have tapped into some real talent.”
Contestants will present their final apps during the Judging and Awards Ceremony at Pace University on April 28, vying for cash prizes, paid internships, tech gear and bragging rights. In the meantime, students are working to develop their apps along with their team coaches.
As seniors at Nellie A. Thornton High School in Mount Vernon, Samantha Jagmohan and Savika Balran are developing an app called “Pointers,” which offers a range of health, nutrition and everyday tips to seniors.
“I think it’s going to be empowering for them,” said Jagmohan, 17. “They’re getting to an older age, but they can still take care of themselves. It’s a way to monitor these things for themselves without being told what to do.”
Meanwhile, a team from Mamaroneck High School is working on an app called “Gifts for Grandkids,” which generates gift ideas for grandparents looking to nail it on birthdays, holidays or even just a little bit of spoiling. Team members Charles Fuss, Noah Wolfson and Max Torre said they’ve already learned a lot through the process of developing an idea and working with other team members on the tech end.
“It’s been really eye opening,” said Wolfson, 16, a junior. “I didn’t know how much goes into building an app.”