BU students are taking courses across the University where they are making change through business and tech ventures, as artists and creatives, and as advocates compelled to innovate along lines of social inequity and injustice. These courses develop coders, business administrators, fine artists, engineers, social workers, policy designers, curators, and so much more.
The Innovate@BU Idea Cup was established to highlight—and award— course ideas taking any form and hailing from every corner, school, and college of the University. On December 5, 2019, fifteen finalist student teams will present their ideas through showcase tables and a short pitch. The top three winners will receive cash prizes and support to continue working on their project and the audience favorite will receive $250.
Preview the finalists below and meet them on December 5 at the BUild Lab.
Course: GE 532 Research for Environmental Agencies and Organizations
Professor: Rick Reibstein
Team: Avital Chissick (CAS’20), Katherine Calandriello (CAS’20)
The goal of this project is to help protect urban pollinators and their habitats. We have identified pesticide processes and habitat conditions that can be improved to maintain campus biodiversity, make BU more resilient to climate change, reduce its carbon footprint, and protect food availability. We suggest using natural pesticides and implementing a university-wide ban on neonicotinoids, and adding habitats for pollinators by planting native pollinator-attracting plants in bare spots on campus as well as places at higher elevations such as tops of buildings and bus stops. Not only can these acts help protect pollinators but they can help BU reach their goal of carbon neutrality because increased plant life will increase carbon sequestration and also reduce the demand for mowing, which reduces fossil fuel use.
Course: XCC 433 Student Activism and Its Effects
Professor: Weintraub and Myers
Team: Melani Zuckerman (CAS’22), Sarah Bickford, Melani Zuckerman, Caroline Stromberg
As part of our Cross-College Challenge Course, our group took on the concern of food insecurity among BU students. We discovered that one-third of Massachusetts’ college students are uncertain where their next nutritious meal will come from. Many of Massachusetts’ public universities have created on-campus food pantries, often student-run, and operate on a budget of less than $5,000 per year. The cost of education continues to rise, as does the research on the detriment of trying to study while hungry. Hungry or under-nourished students perform worse in their classes and divert more energy to finding their next meal than to their next exam. We are creating a proposal to create a food pantry on BU’s campus that would be accessible to all students.
Course: CS 491 Spark! Production Innovation
Professor: Ziba Cranmer and James Grady
Team: Ishmael Perez (CAS’20), Sarah Shahinpour (CAS’20), Nick Guadagno (CFA’20)
Forget-Me-Not is a mental health management suite tailored for people with diagnoses of bipolar disorder or depression (or others who simply want a stress management tool) to be used in conjunction with counseling. It facilitates daily mood logging, journaling, medication information like storage and reminders, and features a continually-growing list of self-care exercises. The user can view their progress in terms of mood over time and engagement, review journal entries to identify triggers and trends, and generate a “progress report” to send to counselors or others who may want to check in with the user.
Course: CO201 Introduction to Communication Writing J1
Professor: Sam Sarkisian
Team: Andrea Lim (CAS’21), Victoria Calandrino (CAS’21), Zachary Goldman (COM’21)
SafeTalk BU is a proposed mental health hotline run by students for students in non-emergency situations. Students can utilize this hotline anytime between 8 am – 2 pm, and 24/7 during reading periods and finals. SafeTalk BU is for those situations when students are stressed and need to speak with someone. A student volunteer will be there to talk to the student because the volunteer understands the stresses of college. BU students should not feel the need to disregard their mental health until it becomes a problem they cannot ignore. The service would ensure that a mental health professional is on call at all times in cases of emergencies or if the student volunteer needs help with a caller. Student volunteers will be chosen through a rigorous application and a semester-long training.
Course: FT728 Creating New Ideas
Professor: Jodi Luber
Team: Sherry Xiao (COM’20)
Instant Travel is a local travel recommendation platform with tons of influencers sharing live video logs about things to do in their community. Instant Travel gives all users that want to explore things around an instant experience. Instead of booking things a week in advance, Instant Travel focuses on events that are happening live while on the app. All events will be within three miles of the user and geotags will be incorporated into video logs.
Course: FT728 Creating New Ideas
Professor: Jodi Luber
Team: Ben Oppenheimer (COM’20)
OSB is an app designed to make sports betting fast, easy, and compelling on mobile devices. We offer minimal fees on earnings, undercutting our competitors’ standards, and unique features to combat addiction while providing desirable gameplay.
Course: CM714 Professional Presentation
Professor: Domenic Screnci
Team: Yazhu Yang (COM’20), Liangwen Luo (COM’20)
Sanctuary is a peer-to-peer community website that provides a friendly and open communication channel for all teenagers who faced, experienced, or witnessed cyberbullying. This website will utilize an anonymous front-end system and real-name back-end system to protect users’ privacy and monitor any inappropriate words/behaviors. Features include: Watchman for reporting cyberbullying cases over the internet; Shelter, allowing victims to share their stories; Keyword monitoring for tracking and signaling potential suicidal intentions; Confession Room as a place for bullies to share and work through guilt; the Rehab feature will be organized by a professional psychologist, educator, and law enforcement, and; Dreamers feature will provide a multilingual service for immigrant’s children whose first language is not English.
Course: CS491 Spark! Production Innovation
Professor: Ziba Cranmer and James Grady
Team: Zachary Halvorson (ENG’20), Sky Tse (CFA’20), Stathis Karatsiolis (CAS’20)
Espresso making is a very complicated and difficult process, especially for a home user that has a manual hand lever espresso machine. Applied pressure is one of the most important factors in that process. Currently, there are not any low cost and effective ways to accurately track that pressure for each shot of espresso. Providing a computer vision-based tool would drastically lower the cost to accurately track pressure over time, allowing espresso enthusiasts to more closely track and control pressure as a variable. This would improve flavor, reduce waste, and make the process of dialing in a shot of espresso faster and more enjoyable by being able to control an additional variable.
Course: EK210 Introduction to Engineering Design
Professor: James McDaniel
Team: Brock Nelson (ENG’22), Henry Kaufman (CAS’22), Neev Mittal (CAS’22)
CoStudy helps students find study partners in their classes. For the first time ever, students will easily be able to find the right people to accompany them in their academic endeavors. Increasingly large lectures, busy schedules, and creeping mental health issues have led to a lack in student connections on campuses across the nation. Our mobile application creates an efficient way for students to find “the needle in the haystack”, or the best-suited study partner based on their class schedule, free time, and location preferences. We are planning on licensing this software to universities as a proven method to increase diverse student connections on campus and better academic performance on campus. As a group of BU students going through these issues, we feel as though our software meets real student needs in a way that real students will use.
3-d Printed Cookbook Stand
Course: SAR OT618 Directed Study in Evidence-Based Practice
Professor: Karen Jacobs
Team: Kevin Peng (ENG’21), Leah Smith (SAR’21), Libby Miller (SAR’21)
Our team developed a 3-d printed cookbook stand with adjustable viewing angle, clips, and handle. The handle allows for one-handed adjustment of the viewing angle, and the clips hold the book open during cooking. This is meant as an assistive device for individuals with fine motor impairment. This particular product was designed for a patient with hemiparesis (paralysis on one side of the body) after a stroke. Individuals with this injury need to adapt their environment to facilitate cooking. Cooking provides an important source of good nutrition and can also improve motor function. It is also a hobby for many patients and fosters a sense of independence, both important factors in improving life satisfaction after a stroke.
Course: OM865 Idea Lab
Professor: Nitin Jogelkar
Team: Ashish Khuarana (Questrom’20)
CATALYST is an online career counseling platform that uses psychometric and quantitative analysis to help students aged 12-18 select the best possible career option. The idea is to help students make informed decisions regarding their career and not rely on parental and peer influence. This will address the needs of millions of students who have talent and knowledge to excel but lack proper guidance and resources.
Community and Law Enforcement Assisted Recovery Website
Course: SB806 Communication Strategies for Public Health
Professor: Jacey Greece
Team: Gregory Kantor (SPH’20), Haley Friedler (SPH’20), Leah Stansky (SPH’20), Rafik Wahbi (SPH’20)
In collaboration with the emergency services in Winthrop, MA, the Winthrop Department of Health has created the Community and Law Enforcement Assisted Recovery (CLEAR) program. CLEAR serves to connect individuals with substance use disorder (SUD) to recovery resources, including peer recovery coaching, following an overdose. The CLEAR website currently contains limited information and does not serve the needs of the community. To increase access to information and resources for SUD prior to or after an overdose, we plan to build a tailored and engaging website for the CLEAR program that has been pre-tested with all stakeholders. The website will include tools and capabilities to facilitate accessing information by those who need it most through engaging and easy-to-use features.
Akyem Dwenase Health Center Mobile App
Course: GH743 Implementing Health Programs in Developing Countries: Making Programs Work
Professor: James Wolff
Team: Alexandra Regan (SPH’20), Brittany Aryeh (SPH’20), Hannah Demoss (SPH’20), Lynn El-Chaer (SPH’20), Tyler Takata (SPH’20)
Using Dimagi’s CommCare Community Plan, we built a fully functioning mobile application that will allow the Akyem Dwenase Health Center (ADHC) in Ghana to transition to an electronic medical system. The application will be used by health center staff to register new patients, record patient visits, and analyze patient data. The mobile application includes a registration form, health visit forms, and a case management function. Case management allows additional information to be added to patient records at future visits. The team has built an application with five forms: “Registration Form”, “ANC Visit Form”, “Labor and Delivery Form”, “Discharge From Labor Ward Form”, and “Postnatal Care Form”. The forms collect the information required by the Ghanian Ministry of Health (MOH). Health center employees can download this information as a .csv file and use it to understand patient demographics and health center trends, and file reports to the MOH or potential funders.
Course: EM500 Introduction to Emerging Media
Professor: James Cummings
Team: Rebecca Giovannetti (COM’20), Rachael Dier (COM’20)
We will develop a Google Chrome extension aimed to help people search more efficiently on Google by nudging users to correct biased wording and suggesting better search modifiers to filter results accordingly. The tool would use natural language processing to identify biased wording or phrases in search queries, and highlight them in order to nudge users to click on the extension icon – which will then open a pop up informing less polarizing ways to word the query (and get less biased results in the process.) Additionally, this pop up would link to a website with complete tips and modifiers, as well as an explanation to the way the engine works to help people make better use of the Google search engine.
Restorative Justice Research Proposal
Course: HC450 Proposal Workshop: Keystone Project Colloqium
Professor: Judith Oleson
Team: Sarika Ram (CAS’21)
This semester, I developed a research proposal to create an evidence-based restorative justice program framework to be utilized in the aftermath of hate crime. Restorative justice (RJ) is a reconciliatory approach that focuses on fulfilling the needs of survivors and repairing harms inflicted by perpetrators. RJ processes include victim-offender mediation, family group conferences, and community mediation. The goal of RJ is to increase understanding and empathy between perpetrators and survivors of crime and develop paths of action to repair harms caused by perpetrators. For example, an anti-Semitic individual who vandalized a Jewish family’s home by spray-painting Swastikas on their windows would participate in several mediated processes and conversations with representatives of the family and the local Jewish community, apologize to both the family and local synagogue, and pay for repairing damages to the home.