We were inspired to create this application as we realized that college students need a more efficient platform to coordinate rides home from college campuses. Most students currently utilize a FaceBook group to request and offer rides, which is difficult to navigate as feeds tend to become cluttered with a stream of incoming posts. Our team decided to create an organized and systematic platform that would allow students to register as a driver and/or rider to arrange rides.
We have built our website and planned out an interactive application by creating a mockup of what we envisioned our web development to look like (attachment included on Devpost), so our next step would be to actually implement our vision for our application. CalUCarpool will walk students through a systematic, step-by-step process of registering, verifying their license and student status, and learning how to use the app to find a carpool group to their desired location. Drivers will be able to choose the location they are going, how far from the destination they are willing to drive to drop riders off, and the date and time they will begin their car ride. They will also be allowed to choose if they are driving one-way or roundtrip, and in the case of the latter, drivers will again choose the date and time at which they are heading back to campus. Riders will also have the option to type in their destination and how many miles is an acceptable distance to be dropped off at. Similar to drivers, riders can choose a date at which they would like to leave and options for potential drivers will appear from which the riders can choose the driver whose time, date, and location best aligns with their needs. The fee that riders must pay the drivers is based on the mpg, distance (miles), and gas price at the time.
At CalUCarpool, we aim to create a safe and enjoyable experience for both drivers and riders. Our organization strives to be inclusive, environmentally-friendly, and ensure the safety of the college students verified with us. We follow through on these values by only allowing students with .edu emails to register with us, which ensures that they are college students. We also require student drivers to upload their license information so we can verify that they have no major driving infractions. In addition to protecting student safety, we create an inclusive space by making sure no student is ever rejected from receiving or giving a ride based on their background, which includes race, gender, and sexual orientation. Users will have the ability to rank other drivers and riders and potentially file complaints if they face such discrimination. In addition to all of these features, another attribute to our application that will set us apart from competing apps is our incentives to actually register and be environmentally friendly. By carpooling, students would be reducing their carbon footprint which goes with one of our values to be environmentally conscious. Students earn points when they carpool with other students via our app and the California University with the most points can win fun prizes, such as a free concert at their campus. One major obstacle that our team had to push through was the fact that none of us have previously attended a Hackathon before this. This was a completely new experience, and we were all intimidated at the get-go. We were unsure of what we were going to build and how we would go about the process of building our project. When inspiration finally hit to create a ride-sharing web app for California college students, we were still initially confused on where to start the process of building the application. Unfortunately, one of the biggest challenges we faced was our inability to implement all of our ideas in the short of amount of time we were given. Due to the time constraints and our minimal coding experience, our team spent many hours simply learning how to code. Through attending workshops and committing hours to teaching ourselves we managed to create the website portion completely from scratch. We were unable to complete the actual app development but we did draft our vision for it, which we mentioned previously. In addition, another major challenge we faced was working only in a team of three as our fourth member left the hackathon early on and did not contribute to the project. Looking at the more technical aspects of the project, we were initially unaware that CSS could be implemented externally from HTML, so we had to continuously scroll up and down our code, ultimately making things more confusing and disorganized for our team. Towards the end of the hack, once we were satisfied with our web design, we struggled to upload our files to the server (through filezilla) with our registered domain and time constraints inevitably lead us to forgo this aspect. As a team with solely first-time Hackers at any hackathon, we are pretty proud of ourselves for what we had created in the short time we had. We learned so much from this experience and hope to continue to attend many more hackathons in the future. We had to teach ourselves how to code HTML5 and CSS3. One specific aspect of our project that we are excited about was the fact that we bought our very first domain! In addition to the technology side of our project, we are proud of developing an application that aligns with our own core values of sustainability and building relationships within communities. The most important thing that we learned was that sleep is necessary for normal brain function. With the lack of sleep, the copious amount of Yerba Mate drinks were no match for our fatigued minds and bodies. Besides learning that sleep deprivation is a no-go, we learned all about how websites work and how much work goes into building a working, visually appealing, and user-friendly website. In addition, we gained a lot of experience in learning how to lead a team of equally passionate people with a diverse set of skills and mindsets. Although there were some disagreements, we all learned how to communicate and cooperate with one another to build a cohesive final product. As mentioned previously, our team had little to no experience in the coding world, making it extremely difficult to create a website completely out of scratch. We ended up having to teach ourselves how to code via various Google Searches of tutorials and intense study of other user’s codes. Eventually, we were able to use Adobe Dreamweaver CC and created a website using HTML5 and CSS3. We used a parallax scrolling technique on the home page, and then used simple images, columns, and a sticky nav bar to create the rest of the site. In addition, we created a yellow car PNG in Adobe Illustrator and integrated it as dividers on our site. Finally, we uploaded the site to our domain: www.calucarpool.com (a name which we obsessed over throughout the weekend)