Students showcase projects, win prizes at Expo 2016

Dalton Simancek talks to visitors about his project, Breadcrumbs Nature Guide.

Students exhibited more than 30 projects and competed for awards at the 2016 ExpoSItion, an annual event in which UMSI students showcase design, research and service projects.

The event, with prizes sponsored by Coyote Logistics, awarded more than $6,000 in cash prizes as students competed across four categories: Technology/Design; Civic Tech; Diversity, Equity and Inclusion; and Academic/Research. Professors, prospective employers, fellow students and others cast votes to determine the winners.

Sophus Q&A App, a context-aware knowledge sharing platform that crowdsources information from local experts to answer users’ questions, took the top prize, the Inspiration, Innovation & Impact I3 Award, which came with $1,000. PhD candidates Gaurav Paruthi and Priyank Chandra created the platform, which also won in the Technology/Design category.

PhD student Chuan-Che Jeff Huang discusses his group's entry, DoIIIT Together.

Chandra and Paruthi collaborated with PhD student Chuan-Che Jeff Huang to create the winning project in the Academic/Research category. That project, DoIIIT Together, is a creative space for interdisciplinary creation and research collaboration located in the North Quad.

Access: A Mobile Application to Improve Accessibility, created by MSI students Yi Yang, Yidi Hong, Yunqi Hu and Varun Joshi and MDes student Kai Yu, received the most votes in the Civic Tech category. The Diversity, Equity and Inclusion award went to MSI student Dalton Simancek, creator of Breadcrumbs Nature Guide, a mobile app that communicates with Bluetooth-powered beacons scattered along a nature trail to deliver audio messages containing navigational and contextual information.

Other projects addressed campus safety, housing, library access, cycling safety, legal aid and more. A gallery of projects is available here.

Michelle Jackson and Betty Ku with their project, Village App.

The impact of many ExpoSItion projects extends beyond campus. One such effort is Village App, created by MSI students Michelle Jackson, Betty Ku and Nishan Bose.

“We really wanted to address something that was a real problem, not a student problem, and affected people across demographics,” Jackson said.

The app connects parents to coordinate children’s transportation and won runner-up in the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion category. While it started as a class project, it’s grown into something more for Jackson, who has a flexible job lined up so she can continue her work on the app after graduating this year.

“It’s not a school project for me; this is what I’m doing,” she said.

Posted on March 25, 2016