Starting the Technovation Challenge

Technovation officers and members begin their building season

Charlotte Chui

On Jan. 23, MV Technovation held a club meeting as their members dove into the beginning of the Technovation Challenge. The Technovation Challenge is an international six-week app-building competition, with the building season starting in January. After, members create a business plan based on their app and participate in competitions, potentially advancing to the next round. Currently, the teams are in the beginning stages of the app-building process.

“Last week and the week before was all about coming up with unique ideas and seeing how that could be implemented in an app,” junior and programming lead Divya Karivaradasamy said. “Now they’re actually starting to build their projects.”

Sophomore Manogna Rajanala is participating in the Technovation Challenge, but hasn’t solidified an idea for her app yet. She has ideas ranging from a tracking device for those who often lose their belongings to an app that could detect carbon dioxide emissions to an education app that would provide a safe environment for disabled students.

As the Technovation Challenge involves programming an app and writing a business plan, Rajanala and her group members have different roles. The team splits up the work and the varying aspects that go into the process of building an app and completing the challenge.

“There’s the coding aspect and the design aspect,” Rajanala said. “I’m more in charge of design and making sure that the app is working well so that people can actually use it without any confusion. Being able to collaborate and get ideas off each other is the most important thing.”

Juniors and club members Cynthia Hom and Anya Chen share on a laptop during the meeting. As team members participating in the challenge, they often collaborate to make progress.

While the members must divide the different roles among themselves, the officers split up the responsibilities on the other end similarly. Karivaradasamy plans and teaches coding lessons to provide members with the tools necessary to program their app, while vice president and junior Vahni Tagirisa oversees both the coding and business aspects, working with both officers and members.

 

“[Group members] were doing an app that helps with earthquakes, and they were showing me their screens,” Tagirisa said. “There were certain features that I thought were really good and there were certain features that I thought needed improvement, so I was able to show them how they should improve that and then change that for their app.”

Tagirisa works through a similar process with teams while they write their fifteen page business plan as well. She makes sure that their idea for the app is solid enough to write a business plan, improving their projects to ensure that they’re as strong as they can be for the competition.

Though officers provide support for the teams as they work through the challenge, the process is still not without its own difficulties.

“One difficulty [is] just getting the initial ideas rolling,” Karivaradasamy said. “It does take quite a bit of time to find an idea that solves a problem, is easy to implement, hasn’t been done [and] hasn’t been perfected already by some other app.”

The officer team’s most prominent issue was with making sure that every member stays on top of the deadlines. With the relatively short competition period of the Technovation Challenge, Tagirisa feels that members often find themselves crunched for time.

Going into the beginning of the season, Tagirisa expected to have a strong, productive start, which didn’t turn out as planned. The officers planned tight deadlines to ensure that all teams would be on track to successfully complete the challenge, but they encountered unexpected difficulties.

“Things happen and certain members have other things going on, so they can’t spend all their time on this,” Tagirisa said. “We have to kind of accommodate for [teams’] progress, so it ended up being a lot more flexible than we wanted it to.”

Rajanala also had to adjust to changes and be flexible with circumstances that arose.

“[My team] actually had a group of three people, but one person dropped out,” Rajanala said. “It’s difficult, especially now it’s a group of two of us. A lot of work has to be put in, but if it was a group of four or something, each person would have a less amount of work.”

The lack of time also poses a challenge for officers. Officers have to use the first semester to teach members about coding and unexpectedly had to finish teaching during the build season as well. This is especially an issue for members who don’t have experience in coding or app creating.

Even with the numerous obstacles they have faced, both officers and members eagerly anticipate the season ahead of them.

I’m most excited about just seeing how unique each group is,” Karivaradasamy said. “They all have completely different ideas this year for features they could add onto their apps and how they want it to look. They’re all completely different so it’s good seeing those perspectives.”

With the excitement that comes along with the challenge, Tagirisa also has one goal in mind: to have all of their teams successfully complete and enter in the challenge.

“We want them to compete in the challenge and we want them to go as far as they can,” Tagirisa said. “The biggest goal is to have our teams learn something new, have the satisfaction of finishing their app and just have them compete because it’s an experience that you can’t get anywhere else.”