In our team, we have three freshmen. As it was our first time going to college, we all made the mistake of buying a more-than-necessary meal plan. What we didn't realize, however, was that, as a WPI student, actually eating all of your meals was a luxury.

That means that we all had a bunch of meals that we couldn't finish, but had already paid for. We also had a bunch of upper classmen friends who would end up buying a meal from the campus center or a swipe into Daka (our mess hall) from anywhere to $7 - $10 per meal.

Then the idea hit us. Why isn't there a way to auction off unused meal swipes to upper classmen? If freshmen could meal swipes for even $5, that would be $5 that they would have lost normally, as they already paid for their meal plan. For upperclassmen, a $5 meal is a steal for on campus food anywhere, thus yielding a win-win solution for everybody.

What it does

It is online marketplace application, in which a user can type in a time, and it will show all other students selling swipes at the time. After you buy a swipe, it will alert the seller that you would like to buy a swipe, and then after you meet up, and he/she swipes you in, your payment will go through.

How we built it

We built the backend with Python and Flask, with the frontend being HTML/JS, with a Bootcamp framework.

Challenges we ran into

We all were touching web development after a really long time, and it took us nearly a day just to get the rust off. Additionally, in the last 6 hours, we had a weird bug in which the database was actually changing the values inside of it, which caused an unnecessary complication in the whole process.

We also had a big issue with the notification system, because we needed a way to open a pipeline between a client and a server on a new connection, and maintain that pipeline even as the user navigates the site.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

  • Push notifications for when someone wants to buy a swipe
  • We have the menu for the mess hall for each day
  • We built a secure login server in just 4 or so hours

What we learned

  • No more front end. Ever. Ever
  • What that being said, BootStrap was a savoir
  • After you learn Flask, building a service with Flask and Python is actually a lot less painful than with other methods
  • Don't do GUIs in Java

What's next for DakaExchange

  • Mobile App
  • Venmo integration
  • Geo-fencing
  • Better UI
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