As previous high school students, we know the struggle of finding help with career counseling, college counseling, and tutoring. Opportunities are different all around the world so we wanted to create a platform to balance them out here in West Lafayette, Indiana.
What it does
Purdue Plus connects high school students in West Lafayette to experienced Purdue University students willing to provide their expertise. Purdue University students have gone through high school and have overcome many of the obstacles current high schoolers are going through, which is why they are the best resources for these students to succeed. Both grade school students and Purdue Students make a profile with information like subject preferences, preferred number of hours a week, location, and more. The app stores information for both sides (the mentor and the mentee’s answers) through Firebase and then allows the mentor to select a mentee based on their answers. Once the mentor has chosen the mentee, the mentor will be able to connect with the student and develop a schedule that works for both parties.
How I built it
We used Xcode to make the app using Swift as our object oriented programming language and Google Firebase to store user data. We began building the app by creating the minimal viable product using post it notes, and proceeded to replicate this through multiple storyboards. Once the storyboards were running, we implemented Firebase using Ruby to install Cocoapods. The Firebase acted as our database and thus the information inputted by the user from the UI on the storyboard were stored and made available to the mentor.
Challenges I ran into
As beginner hackers, we were unfamiliar with Swift and Firebase, the two main components of our project. As a team, we watched tutorials, received mentor help, and played around with code to understand the languages and features. In addition, we scrapped our initial idea and created a new idea and project about 12 hours into the hackathon. Each member on the team tackled a specific component (storing data through Firebase, setting up text fields for each input source, installing pods using Ruby, creating storyboards with Swift).
Accomplishments that I'm proud of
We are proud of creating our first iOS application that tackles a problem we believe Purdue students are more than capable of resolving. Additionally, we implemented our knowledge about terminal and methods/classes from our CS lectures to adapt to a different object oriented programming language.
What I learned
As a team, we learned the basics of Swift, firebase, and Ruby. This hackathon was a learning experience as we ran into many different errors that we had to solve to overcome. We learned how to self learn and solve problems through research and experimentation; as well as consulting mentors with specific questions after trials and tribulations rather than asking open ended questions.
What's next for Purdue Plus
We want to add a video connect feature, that allows students to be able to meet with their mentor on a virtual platform if they cannot come to Purdue because of unforeseen circumstances like family emergencies, injuries, or severe weather. Further, we want to make Purdue Plus a class offered at Purdue. Currently, the computer science department offers a credit course that counts towards Purdue students cumulative GPA for volunteering at local elementary schools. The same can be done for our tutoring/career building program; however, with our platform any Purdue student in any major can be part of this process and receive credit for the hours they put into mentoring.