As Dean Gates said mentorship is crucial to empowering minorities. First years at UVA may find themselves overwhelmed by the population of the student body and new academic challenges. They can find mentors, friends, or conversational buddies who are more experienced (upperclassmen) and can advise them on how to get the best experience at UVA. It may be difficult to find people with similar backgrounds in such a large crowd, and a database that matches first years with upperclassmen for a free lunch together could help create support for new Wahoos.
What it does
The app matches first years and upperclassmen based on the first years' interests and cultural backgrounds. DiningWithAMentor is a web service which connects students with other peer mentors for advice/mentorship over a meal at a UVA dining location usually provided by the mentee with a guest swipe from their meal plan.
How we built it
We used a wordpress website with an embedded Google forms, which uses Google Scripts as a backend to analyze the Google form data. We chose a simple Google form interface to make the app easily distributed by other clubs and societies at the university.
Challenges we ran into
None of us had any experience with hackathons before, we met today morning and decided to form a team. Again none of us had any experience on Google apps script before, we learnt it through tutorials and online documentations to create the backend which took most of our time. Integrating diversity automatically in the match making process. How to analyse google form data without a mySQL database. We tried php, we created a flask app and none of it worked for our project so we ditched those.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
Beautifully designed wordpress website that can be rolled out today without any problems. Integrated Google forms so that the it would help the APIs in the backend. We boiled down this idea from a list of 11 ideas which we came up with today. Out of those 11, this idea seemed to be the best suited for UVA students.
What we learned
Creating a flask app with google scripts app. Wordpress designing. Some of our members have never created a web application (three of us are non-CS majors), so we learned a lot about connecting the front end (HTML or Wordpress) to the back end of things. The relatively simple task (matching students with meal swipes and students without meal swipes who are seeking mentors) turned out to be complex, and we went from trying to use PhP for the first time (guided by our kind CS major groupmate) to trying to use Google Cloud with Flask to trying to use Google Scripts, which was completely new to us.
What's next for DiningWithAMentor
Try to make this as a mobile app (both iOS and Android apps). Use a mySQL database. Use professional version of wordpress and use fancy plugins. Get additional feedback from users and improve the google forms. Improve overall match making process.