I’ve always felt very personal about the issue of anti-social-academia. During my freshman year at UW, I noticed that I was pretty bad at connecting with new study buddies in my classes. Looking around the lecture halls, I’d see hundreds of other students rushing to and from class, just minding their own business in a hyper-stressed, hyper-awkward setting. Recently, this problem of anti-social-academia is exponentially more relevant, as we see that students are isolated from one another due to the threat of COVID19. Because of all these negative findings, we felt inspired to create a study buddy finder app/site to help UW students combat academic-isolation. Flashforward to today: we present our solution called KiwiLink - the ultimate UW study buddy finder tool.

What it does

KiwiLink is the ultimate UW study buddy finder site. KiwiLink is specific and it’s focused; all KiwiLink users are identified by their classes and majors and by a short bio. The best part about KiwiLink is that it uses an algorithm to match users with other users in a relevant way with the For You Page. Users can quickly find other people that have a matching class or major, since the For You Page automatically handles class and major filtering. We also have the Explore page, which lets users experience a more free type of unfiltered social setting. In the Explore page, users get to befriend people of all sorts of academic backgrounds and interests. In both pages, users are able to request to add other users as friends. After users have friended each other, these friends are able to message each other about UW or about specific coursework or whatever, and they can also create group-chats in order to unite a study group for a specific class.

How we built it

We first started by designing our webpage project prototype through Figma. For the software development part, we built our frontend structure using ReactJS, and we tackled the backend by using Firebase to communicate with a database. We spent approximately 16 straight hours developing javascript and CSS code in a collaborative fashion using VSCode’s LiveShare plugin.

Challenges we ran into

We realized that we had to “untrack” a file using git because I realized that we had exposed our firebase API key to the public (due to publicizing our repo). As a result, we aren’t able to publicize a file called “fire.js,” which includes MUCH of our backend code. We had to make multiple repositories because of inexplicable complications Figma kept causing Victor’s MacBook to crash Sleep deprivation

Accomplishments that we're proud of

  • Elegant figma model
  • Great progress despite feeling very stressed from limited time
  • Had good time brushing up on React despite feeling rusty
  • Able to stay up all night
  • Communicated well with teammates

What we learned

  • A lot about ReactJS syntax
  • A lot about Firebase systems
  • GitHub security
  • API Publicity vulnerabilities
  • How to work under pressure
  • Skills on using real-time collaboration tools such as LiveShare

What's next for KiwiLink

  • We are very interested in continuing to support the lifecycle of KiwiLink by seeking funding and VC support
    • Continue to work on a related app (different from KiwiLink website, but fundamentally similar)
    • Continue to target UW students as the main target audience for this service
    • Continue to try to improve academic sociability and wellness at UW
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