Our inspiration grew from an experience Kat had with her experience coming to America. In an effort to culturally immerse Kat into some American culture, Union College and an individual contracting agency provided a host family for her. The application process was a crude pdf that contains minimal information that could help Kat and prospective host families decide on a match. While going through the paperwork that she had to complete, that provided little to no meaningful insight for her and her host family, we discovered an inefficient system.

What it does

Our solution to this problem was to come out with a more efficient and friendly method for finding these matches. We wanted to keep the student in mind when thinking of how to optimize this system. Our solution helps families provide information about themselves that are used to find a good match. Our software used a point system to determine how well a match was and take preference into considering. We also thought about students who want vastly different host families than those of their own backgrounds. By creating this system, we were able to match both families and students that wanted some familiarity and those that were ready to explore something new and exciting.

How we built it

We had three major components to focus on when building this software. First, we had to find a backend algorithm to do what we wanted in terms of finding the matches. Then, we had to find a way of collecting data for this algorithm that was both user-friendly and easily accessible for the software. Lastly, we had to implement the data and algorithm and return the matches. We built a website as a method for collecting data and used Java, PHP, and SQL for our software.

Challenges we ran into

Assisting a fair distribution of work was one of the most challenging aspects. Because of our different skill levels, some people had a little bit more initial work due to their ability to code. We also had a teammate drop out so redistributing work was an even greater challenge.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

We built a fully functional website that anyone can access from their computer. I was very impressed with some of the features we were able to incorporate into our site.

What we learned

We learned how to use bootstrap to optimize our site. Some of us learned HTML and CSS for the first time. We learned a lot of design methodologies, using Balsamiq. We were able to experiment with new technologies such as PopSql.

What's next for HostConnect

  • The ability for the student to select if they want a family that is similar to their background or different --- thus optimizing the system to show families that differ from the students' background
  • The ability for the Hosting Program (through the university or company) to organize a meetup of the families and their matches
  • The ability for families to log their interactions with their students
  • The ability for students to provide feedback about their host family and satisfaction levels
  • The ability for University or Host Family Company to monitor this information; therefore intervening if a match is not going - well or family/student is not receptive of arrangement
  • Anything else
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