Computer science and journalism students team up for competition
For the fourth time in as many years, computer science students from the College of Engineering and Missouri School of Journalism students joined forces for the Reynolds Journalism Institute’s student developer competition.
This year’s contest challenged teams to develop mobile apps for the Innovation Division of Hearst, Inc., with support from technology partners Adobe, Google and Sprint.
“Originally, Hearst gave us eight vague, simple ideas and we were supposed to pick one and turn it into an Android app,” said Bryan Baugher, one of two computer science students on the winning team, Media Moguls.
After original presentations of ideas, the field was narrowed to five teams, and 25 students got down to business with feedback from Hearst and RJI mentors. Adobe provided the teams with development tools, Sprint helped test the apps during development and Google offered assistance with Android development.
“We began to work out all of the basic designs for our app — how it would look. The idea was very technically oriented, so Josh [Lory from computer science] and I split off and started working on developing the app,” Baugher said, estimating that the team, which also included J-school students Amanda Klohmann, Morgan Mitchell and Matthew Schmertz, spent in excess of 500 hours on the project.
Before she announced the winners, Beth Polish, director of Corporate Innovation and senior vice president of Hearst Interactive Media, said the judges’ decision was not an easy one.
“It’s amazing how far all of the teams got with just a kernel of an idea,” Polish said. She paused, and then added, “All 25 students will receive a Galaxy Tablet [an Android-based computer], just to say ‘wow’ to all of you.”
As the cheers died, Polish announced the three honorable mention teams and the first runner up, Team Buzz.
Comprised of computer science students Akshay Dave, Chao Shi and Fei Wu, and journalism students Patrick Sweet and Colby Gergen, Team Buzz’s app allows efficient real-time uploading to newspapers and TV stations of photo and video content from reporters in the field and gives the public a way to submit their own news content as it’s happening.
Polish said it would be available in 43 newspaper and television markets by summer.
Hearst additionally sponsored a trip to New York City for the Media Moguls.
“We visited the Hearst Tower and had lunch on the executives-only 44th floor. Over lunch, we briefly described our app and what we did,” Baugher said.
“We handed off our code to Hearst. Our project has the most work to complete it. They said they would bring in some Android developers to work on it,” he added.
Mike McKean, director of the Futures Lab at RJI, said this year’s competition demonstrated the full potential of interdisciplinary student collaborations to address the problems and opportunities facing today’s journalists.
“These students have set the bar extremely high for next year’s competitors,” he said.
The other three finalist teams are:
Team Five Bars: Amanda Bromwich, Adam Falk, Geoff Pado, Joshua Smith and Zach Wade, who created an app that allows participants to collaborate, brainstorm, and share content related to developing new business ideas, while on the go.
Team First Instinct: JiEun Choi, Hyun Ik Jang, Hyunmin Lee, Taein Park and Jaewon Shin designed an app that turns improving your fitness into a game – your avatar gains points and power based on your own real-world health and fitness.
Team App Factory: Brent Davidson, Daniel Maxson, Suman Roy, Dan Wang and Qia Wang produced a how-to app for diagnosing common maintenance problems and making repair decisions – including decision trees and step-by-step repair instructions, drawn from Hearst content.