Friends, coders, countrymen, build me an app

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Fifty-two hours, five teams, five working apps.

Five Android app development teams faced off this weekend in the second annual Ideas of March competition at Cal State Monterey Bay. On Friday afternoon, young coders from around Monterey County formed teams and heard pitches from local businesses and community groups. They picked one and spent the next 52 hours building apps that fit the need.

This afternoon, they presented their work to a panel of judges, myself included. The team awarded the Best Overall title built an app for a small local newspaper that combined existing website content, social networks and a community news crowdsourcing feature.

The Technical Merit prize went to a group that created a binary and hexadecimal training app for the Military Cyber Professionals group. They turned it into a slick networked game. The Community Impact award was to given to the team that wrote a help app for a local computer recycler, Loaves, Fishes and Computers. The app will be given to people who receive refurbished computers and will walk them through some of the most frequently encountered problems.

The other two teams did good work too. One developed a general platform for supporting walking tours. Pre-recorded information automatically plays at GPS-determined locations. The other built an app for the school’s counseling center that provides suicide prevention information, as well as direct phone and web links to hot lines. The code for all the apps is available on GitHub

Local software professionals volunteered their time for the weekend to mentor the teams. They were absolutely key to the success of the event. It was co-sponsored by the Information Technology department and the Institute for Innovation and Economic Development at CSUMB and the Monterey Business Council.

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