As universities across the nation are transitioning into online learning, some students lack the resources necessary to make this switch. The University of Texas at Dallas, for example, faces the difficulty of providing computers to its students. According to this article (https://www.utdallas.edu/news/campus-community/computer-loans-covid19-2020/), "the cost and shipping time" makes it difficult for the university to rent computers and distribute them, and there are about 50 requests for computers still pending.
To solve this problem, we realized that many students actually have spare tech such as laptops lying around. If we can pair up the people with spare tech with the people who need them, we will not only eliminate the cost of renting computers but also reduce the cost of shipping by pairing up the people who live close together. To add more incentive, the university can also pay the lenders a small amount of money in the form of tuition reductions.
However, this platform is not restricted to lending laptops. It can also be used to exchange textbooks and other study resources. With its filtering and chatting functionality, Rentech has the potential to become the central marketplace for students to exchange resources.
What it does
In this mobile-friendly web application, users can create listings of their spare electronics. A borrower can then search for these listings using a comprehensive filtering mechanism, with the results sorted by how close they are to the borrower. The borrower can then request the listing and chat with the lender.
How we built it
We created a database in firebase Cloud Firestore, exposed it with a REST API using firebase cloud functions, and connected it with a React-Redux frontend. Auth is done using firebase auth, and we store the token in local storage to persist the session.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
This was the first time we used Frrebase for app authentication, cloud storage, database, and server. The documentation was confusing at times as the API offers a ton of options. However, we are most proud of staying up for the entire duration of the event.
What we learned
We learned the importance of not underestimating the difficulty of a task. Many of the components we added seemed easy, but making it work smoothly was quite frustrating. We also learned that rather than jumping right into a project, it's often necessary to plan out your part beforehand.
What's next for Rentech
Rentech isn't only relevant during times like these. Rentech can provide countless, less privileged people with access to technology. This will not only help colleges account for those who can't pay for their own technology but also benefit those who lend out their devices and resources. With this idea in mind, we'll never leave another child behind.
Try out our app!
We here are the accounts made for demo:
username: firstname.lastname@example.org password: bevoxv
username: email@example.com password: temoc1
username: firstname.lastname@example.org password: reveille