April 11, 2014

App contest highlights student innovation

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill.  -- Southern Illinois University Carbondale students showed their innovation and creativity in creating special software applications at the 2014 Saluki App Competition.  

Any student or student-led team creating a mobile device software app that makes the campus or region a better place could compete.  Each team included one or more students who could work with faculty, staff, alumni or members of the community. At least half of each competing team had to be comprised of spring 2014 SIU students. 

The applications entered in the second annual competition on April 7 were diverse and useful.  The competition featured two contest categories: judge’s choice and popular vote. 

The judge’s choice awards went to the top applications in two categories.  The “maroon” category focused on improving or enhancing SIU academics, research, or promoting university athletics.  The “blue” category, meanwhile, focused on productivity or enhancement involving work, travel, leisure, search, or directories and networking.  Online voters selected the people’s choice award. 

The winners, by category, along with a brief description of the app, the prizes won, and available information about the creator(s) are: 

Judge’s Choice: Maroon category

• First -- UniverCity, an application highlighting events at universities throughout the country; freshman Jordan D. Jones, Sterling Steverson and Marshon Tucker, all undecided majors, $300 prize.

Judge’s Choice: Blue category

• First -- (tie) Gluten Free Converter, a smartphone app to convert recipes and assist people with gluten-free cooking; Alex Hutchinson, a senior marketing and finance major and Alex Glasnovich, a senior majoring in information systems technologies; SITrails, an android app to help people find hiking trails, plan group hikes and secure related information in the region; senior Jeremy Packer and junior Mohammed Alabandi, computer science majors, and Randall Brownlee, a senior majoring in information systems technologies. Each team won a $300 prize.

• Runner-up -- Gym Pals, an app to help people find others to exercise with; Sanli Brandmeyer, a graduate student in communication disorders and sciences, and Ryan Woodward, law student, $150 prize.

People’s Choice Award

• First -- BangBang! Shooter Game, a carnival-style shooting reaction/memory game, by Justin Dial, a junior, who is majoring in information systems technologies, $150 prize.

• Second -- The Gluten Free Converter, $100 prize.

• Third -- SITrails

• Honorable Mention -- SIU Campus View, an app to help visitors and newcomers to campus find their way around SIU, by Jake Bock, a junior majoring computer science; and SI News, an application that compiles news from local sources into one online location, from Kristi Strobbe, a junior majoring in exercise science.

Judges were John Ahrens, SIU director of enterprise applications; Lauren Siegert, online director for The Southern Illinoisan; and Tom Harness, owner of Harness TechED, formerly with Orderbolt. 

Sponsors of the Saluki App Competition include SIU’s Center for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities, Technology Transfer Program and Student Innovation Incubator.  Gluten Free Converter and SI Trails are both tenants in Saluki Ventures, the Student Innovation Incubator at the university’s Southern Illinois Research Park. 

For more information about the competition and contestants, visit the website at