App That Automates Circuit Design Wins Big at BU Spark! Demo Day
Other winners: an app that pairs students from China with potential roommates and one that connects individuals with life/wellness coaches
An app that makes circuit design easily accessible, especially for novices, was the big winner at this year’s BU Spark! Fall 2021 Demo Day, held last month. The app, called autopcb, was designed by a group of students called Team Circuit and essentially reinvents the laborious process of designing circuits.
The autopcb platform lowers the barrier of entry for designing circuits, according to team members Caspian Chaharom (CAS’23), Chloe Adamowicz (CAS’22), Harunobu Ishii (MET’22), and Kelsea Mann (CFA‘23). “Amateurs working on amazing projects will no longer have circuit design as a speed bump in creating something exciting,” Chaharom says.
In the autopcb app, a user draws a high-level design in its intuitive, user-friendly interface, and clicks a button. The app does everything else, including generating a ready-to-manufacture circuit board. The app took home the evening’s top prize, the Judge’s Choice Award for Innovation Fellows.
This year’s competition was presided over by 13 judges, including BU Spark! alums Asad Malik (CAS’20), a software engineer at Phillips, Gowtham Asokan (CAS’21), a data scientist at Harvard, and Sandy Seedhom (CAS’20), a data engineer at MassMutual, along with Langdon White, a Faculty of Computing & Data Sciences clinical professor and BU Spark! technical director, and Michelle Voong, data science solutions engineer at BU Spark!
BU Spark! is the University’s technology incubator and experiential learning lab for student-led computational and data-driven projects. The biannual showcase, held December 10, marked the return of an in-person event, while also offering an opportunity to tune in virtually. In addition to the BU Spark! Innovation Fellows, who presented original apps and websites they had worked on all semester, the evening included X-Lab participants, who work with outside organizations on computing and data science projects through a variety of BU Spark! practicum courses and the Justice Media Co-Lab.
Gagan Kang (CAS’22), Bernard Mulaw (CAS’22), and Jason Zhang (CAS’22), who are part of BU Spark!’s software engineering practicum, garnered the Audience Choice Award for X-Lab Projects for EvolvU, an app that connects health and wellness, life, spiritual, and business coaches with individuals who need specific kinds of mentoring. “Life is full of uncertainty, and coaching can go a long way in improving one’s decision-making and satisfaction with the direction in their lives,” Mulaw says.
The app also allows eligible coaches who are interested to sign up to offer their services.
“EvolvU, like many of the projects we support in Spark! and specifically, my CS-501 class, started a little bumpy,” White says. “However, the team really came together… I was particularly impressed by their ability to take and incorporate feedback from myself and other project stakeholders.”
Duo Xu (CFA’22, CAS’22), Winnie Mei (CAS’22), Wayi Chen (CAS’22), Jiaqi Lin (CAS’23), Gaoning Zhang (CAS’22), and Yichen Liu (CAS’23) won the Audience Choice Award for Innovation Fellows for their app RoomWe, which matches Chinese students with compatible roommates on and off campus. The program is accessed through WeChat, one of China’s most popular social media platforms.
“Chinese international students are a large and growing community of BU,” says Xu, the team lead. “As international students ourselves, we understand that most Chinese students have problems finding roommates and aren’t always satisfied with the school’s roommate pairing process. Our program will collect students’ basic information and create tags for their roommate preferences.”
Students wishing to find a roommate based on personality type can take an Myers-Briggs personality test (MBTI). Users then receive a list of recommended roommates based on their preferences and selected tags. They can also use a filter function in the search page to search for potential roommates using additional criteria. The program, the RoomWe creators say, also features a save page that stores potential roommates for students and allows them to send or accept invitations. Once a roommate match has been confirmed, the individuals can begin chatting via WeChat.
Many of the teams who presented say they plan to continue developing their projects, moving from working prototype to functional products for public use.
“It is great to receive confirmation from experts that they think our project has potential to solve real-world problems that don’t have a solution yet,” Mann says.