Over the past several months, students across the US and the world have had to transition to online learning. Although this transition keeps us all healthier, it has come at the cost of reduced access to our campuses and our peers. Students who have always relied on each other to get through courses and get advice based on shared experience now struggle to make these connections due to the distance and asynchronous nature of online learning. Our app is designed to help students stay connected by giving personalized recommendations based on student interests and needs. Our app aimed to build a platform in which students can build flourishing relationships and help each other succeed online.

What it does

-Connect students based on school, major, classes, interests and more

-Service feature allows students to receive advices from mentors

-Service feature includes class advice, major advice, internship/career advice and more

How we built it

We built our app using the Python Django framework and the Django REST framework for the backend as well as the React JS library for the user interface. The Django framework enabled us to effectively translate our schema into Django Models, while the Django REST API made it possible for us to efficiently create interfaces for querying and updating our database and responding to user GET/POST requests. We used React for client-side rendering since we wanted to work with reusable components to make development easier and Sass as our CSS preprocessor to manage styling easier. We also wanted to work on a mobile web application to make our app the most accessible to students at this time since. For some components, Ant Design was used as a theming library since it helped us create better components in the most efficient way. We used Git and Github for version control and collaboration.

Challenges we ran into

We were unable to deploy our project in the cloud because we couldn’t properly activate Google SQL API, hence we were not able to connect to the database.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

Using git collaboratively was a very useful experience and it gave valuable insight on what development is like as part of a team member. Although we didn’t succeed at deployment yet, we can say that we learned about how to deploy Django projects on cloud platforms such as Google Cloud and Heroku.

What's next for CollabU

Our vision for CollabU goes beyond fostering one-to-one relationships between students. We hope to add features such as events where students can organize and host events on our platform to build strong communities. We hope to add the ability to make video and voice calls and a messaging feature. We also want to explore how we can extract data from bio by leveraging Natural Language Processing technique to further improve our recommendation systems. Finally we would like to add a scoring algorithm that dynamically updates classification of each user to enable improved matching of students in the future.

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