Adelphi University Students Win Second Place At MobileMonday NYC API-First Hackathon

Adelphi University computer science students come in second at MobileMonday NYC API-First Hackathon.

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Adelphi students came in second place at MobileMonday NYC API-First Hackathon, judged by IBM’s employees.

Photo by: Adelphi University

Garden City, NY - July 17, 2017 - You probably know supercomputer Watson as the master answering machine from Jeopardy, but did you know that it’s also the perfect gift finder? 
 
For Adelphi University computer science students Sarthak Arora ‘18 from Brooklyn, Prasanth Venigalla ‘18 from Glen Head, Jai Punjwani ‘18 from Bellmore and Harmit Minhas ‘18 from Queens Village, coming in second place winning $1,500 at MobileMonday NYC API-First Hackathon judged by IBM’s employees was just another step towards exploring their interest in Watson and the future of artificial intelligence (AI) technology. 
 
Surrounded by big name schools and professionals in the field of computer science, coding and developers - Arora, Venigalla, Punjwani and Minhas were not deterred when they entered the Hackathon which ran from Friday, June 2 to Sunday, June 4 at Galvanize in New York City.
 
“They were all people who were interested in computer science, so it's not like you're going against people who have no idea,” explained Arora. “There were a good amount of professionals that already had full time jobs, so the pool of people we were going against were pretty competitive people.”
 
Their goal was to utilize IBM’s latest AI technology Watson and Bluemix Online to create something innovative and practical. After roughly an hour of brainstorming, the team came up with the cleverly named “Watchu-Wantson” app which uses conversation and personality insights to analyze someone's Twitter profile to find the perfect gift.  
 
“They didn't just want an idea, they wanted something that actually worked,” explained Arora who pitched the idea to the judges. “So we wanted to sell them on the idea that it wasn't just about picking a gift, but it was about getting to know people and making a connection before you actually meet them. The things that we tend to miss in human interactions, social media would never miss. It’s a fuller experience to get to know somebody and I think they bought that.”
 
It wasn’t all easy though, the team had problems implementing the technology with their original idea - Facebook, which did not allow them access to the data in friend's profiles unless they also had the app. Twitter was their last resort, but that did not stop the team from winning second place after advancing to the second round.
 
Adelphi has a lot to do with the team’s victory. They first were able to practice their skills at Adelphi’s Hack the Library 2015 event where the team won first place with their app Study Sessions, which is currently on the AU2Go mobile app and helps connect students in the University's Swirbul Library who are studying similar topics.
 
“Realizing that we are competitive in the job market, so people who come from big name schools we tend to think they have more knowledge than we do, but we were much more competitive than a lot of people there and they came from those big named schools and Adelphi computer science department does make us competitive enough to be in a competition like this.” said Venigalla.
 
This isn’t the end for “Watchu-Wantson” though, Venigalla recently purchased IBM’s TGBot kit and he wants to connect the app in order to create a talking robot that would make gift suggestions. The students also wish to pursue app creation and cyber security as careers in the future after graduation.      
 
About Adelphi: A modern metropolitan university with a personalized approach to higher learning
 
Adelphi University is a highly awarded, nationally ranked, powerfully connected doctoral research university offering exceptional liberal arts and sciences programs and professional training with particular strength in its Core Four—Arts and Humanities, STEM and Social Sciences, the Business and Education Professions, and Health and Wellness. Adelphi is dedicated to transforming students’ lives through small classes, hands-on learning and innovative ways to support student success.
 
Founded in Brooklyn in 1896, Adelphi is Long Island’s oldest private coeducational university. Today Adelphi serves over 7,600 students at its beautiful main campus in Garden City, New York—just 23 miles from New York City’s cultural and internship opportunities—and at dynamic learning hubs in Manhattan, the Hudson Valley and Suffolk County, and online.
 
More than 100,000 Adelphi graduates have gained the skills to thrive professionally as active, caring citizens, making their mark on the University, their communities and the world.