Two Ohio Dominican University students were on a team that took first place at the 2018 JPMorgan Chase Code for Good competition. More than 100 students participated in the 24-hour competition, which took place Oct. 19-20, 2018 at JPMorgan Chase’s technology headquarters in Columbus.

During the competition, 16 teams of four to six students from around the world attempted to develop a technology solution for one of two organizations: The Refugee Hub, which works to increase protection and rights for refugees, and OhioGuidestone, a foster care and family services organization that offers community-based services, including mental health and residential care.

Mustafa Nor ’19 and Chidi Emeh ’18, who are both seniors majoring in Software Engineering at ODU, were teamed up with students from The Ohio State University and the Flatiron School’s Coding Bootcamp, and tasked with designing an iOS app to benefit clients of OhioGuidestone, many of whom suffer from mental illness.

The teams did not know which organization they would be working with until the competition kicked off, and then worked through the night discussing, designing and developing their app and proposal.

“I was pretty nervous,” Nor said. “I never attended a hackathon before, so it was a little bit daunting to see all those students.”

The team not only presented their idea the following day to representatives from JPMorgan Chase and OhioGuidestone, they actually demonstrated a working prototype of the app, which they named “GuideMe.”

“GuideMe” is designed in way that users tell it they are about to participate in a certain activity, such as walking or reading. Prior to getting started, they tell the app how they feel by clicking one of several smiley faces. Then, once they’ve completed the activity, they again tell the app how they feel. The app will also remind them throughout the day to participate in an activity. At the end of the week, a counselor can view a summary report that shows which activities had the biggest impact on each individual.

“We noticed that all the teams were doing some sort of PowerPoint presentation instead of a demo, so we decided to just ditch our original presentation and show off the app itself,” Nor said.

“One of the main key points of our app was to measure or ensure value was provided to the users,” Emeh said. “We had a summary page at the end of the app to show how the users improved in mood over time. This was a clear way to determine if an activity it suggested was working, or if the user should try something different.”

After all the teams made their presentations, the ODU team’s app was declared the winner. A team from JPMorgan Chase is now refining the app for eventual use by OhioGuidestone.

“It feels really good to know that someone out there is going to be able to use our app to make a positive change in their life,” Nor said.

Every year, several ODU Software Engineering and Computer Science majors participate in the competition. A team of five ODU students also claimed top spot in 2015 when they designed and developed a prototype of an app to be used by the LeBron James Family Foundation.

“I have learned so much at ODU,” Emeh said. “Not only have I learned how to code, but I’ve also learned how to plan, design and build a solution that meets the client's requirement in a timely fashion while staying within the constraints.”

As first-place winners, Emeh and Nor walked away from the competition with bragging rights and a new Apple iPad Air tablet.

“I was really excited for the iPads, but I couldn’t wait to get home and sleep,” Nor said.