Our team at this hackathon was built up of primarily first-generation immigrants. We believe that education is the most powerful resource for immigrant and visible minority communities to uplift themselves. While brainstorming common issues faced in the black community we realized that each of us had difficulty finding resources and help while navigating our post-secondary journey. Finding university programs that suited our interests and career goals, and the associated costs, academic prerequisites, and application requirements is a difficult process, particularly for first-generation students, and non-naitive English speakers. With our hack, we hope to enable more students in marginalized communities to pursue post-secondary education.

Meet Future U:

Future U is a web-based resource center for first-generation immigrant students and their families. It is available in multiple languages for non-naitive English speakers and pulls its information from the websites of Ontario Universities and Colleges, Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP), and myBlueprint to help students and their families plan for a successful future.

How we built it:

Future U is a simple mobile-friendly website, built using HTML, CSS, and Javascript. On the backend of our site, we have a NoSQL database that pulls batches of information from the Ontario Universities Info website, Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) and myBlueprint to display possible pathways to post-secondary education and any information students may require. Our IBM-Watson powered chatbot is equipped with knowledge about the website and commonly used features, this can help first-time users find the information they need. Each page on the site is equipped with the Google Translate API allowing for the information to be translated to the native language of the user.

Challenges we ran into:

As a team of primarily novice hackers, bringing our idea to life was a challenge. Building and integrating our NoSQL database was our largest challenge, that with more time and technical knowledge we know we can improve in the future and make Future U a success!

Accomplishments that we're proud of:

As a team of mostly novice hackers, we are proud that we so proud to have built something that is functional and can be seen!

What we learned:

We learned how to build a website that is also mobile friendly. We learned how to collaborate as a team using different backgrounds. This truly has been a phenomenal mind-blowing experience. In addition to learning how to build a chatbot and its capabilities and its integration into our website. We learned the capabilities of different applications and platforms that area tour hands to integrate our projects, things we never even thought of.

What's next for Future U:

Our first possible area for improvement is to increase the size and accuracy of our database by building the capability to parse through the website of Ontario colleges and universities for up to date and accurate information. We hope that our site can link through to multiple resources to help families find guidance in choosing programs, planning and financing education, and accessing grants, scholarships and other available aid.

Another area for improvement is with our user experience, in the future we would like to meet with potential users of our resource in their communities and learn about the features that work best and ways that we can improve user interaction with our site. We would aim to build a more aesthetically appealing and dynamic UI, and include features that improve the accessibility of our service. Features that could be added in the future are a speech to text search so people can search for programs or schools without typing, text to speech for those who are visually impaired, and accessible view of the site. We would like for our resource center to reach as many communities as possible to make education available for anyone.

As we develop our app, we aim to leverage IBM Watson's Chatbot capability to be a guide for those using the site. Hopefully one day we can build the chatbot to intake information directly about the student and give suggestions regarding programs, recommended resources and financing their education.

Built With:

HTML5, CSS, JS, Firebase, IBM Watson, Google Cloud Services - Google Translate

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