SFU team wins best student prize in 48-hour appathon

Federal government invited software developers, graphic designers and students to design an app.

  • Jun. 7, 2015 7:00 p.m.

A team of Simon Fraser University computing science students has won a 48-hour “appathon” during which they conceived and built an app to help Canadian high school students compare the costs of a post-secondary education anywhere in the country.

Canadian Open Data Experience (CODE) 2015, hosted by the federal government, invited software developers, graphic designers, students and interested individuals to create an app using Government of Canada open data available on the CODE site.

The competition also encouraged participants to mash up these federal data sets with provincial, territorial and municipal data found on the site’s Open Government across Canada page.

SFU team members Jonathan Bhaskar, Bradley Ellert, Jasneet Sabharwal and Maryam Siahbani won the $5,000 prize for Best Student Team for High School Down, Where Next?

The graduate students only learned about the appathon on the day it began, and joined in several hours late. They spent what remained of the first 24 hours brainstorming about what they could do with the data sets, and then spent the second 24 hours building the app.

Team member Sabharwal is an international student from India studying at SFU for a master’s degree in computing science, specializing in natural language processing. He used big-data and data-visualization skills learned during a Mitacs internship at Worksafe BC to more quickly build the team’s app.

“At a glance, users can view the average rent and tuition fee for any program and institution in the country,” he says. “Other apps currently on the market only permit students to compare two or three institutions.”

The SFU team hunkered down in residence to create the app, which they’re now hosting online. The app includes a map of post-secondary institutions in Canada and charts showing the number of post-secondary institutions by province, their program costs, and average local rents. Users can click on, or drag their selections, then download the results.

The CODE competition attracted 125 submissions and 1,300 participants from across Canada.

SFU computing science professor Fred Popowich says managing Canada’s big data capabilities is critical to the country’s competitive advantage, and there is a growing need for education and training in the field.

Last fall, SFU launched Canada’s first Professional Master’s Program in Big Data in a bid to help meet the demand for big data specialists. One of the team members, Jonathan Bhaskar, is a student in the program.

Just Posted

More ‘Messiah’ in Surrey: City’s new orchestra twice performs Handel’s classic

First Fleetwood Christian Reformed Church, then the Bell theatre with Vancouver Bach Choir

Surrey, Santa Claus is coming to town with lighted trucks

Special events in Cloverdale and Surrey Civic Plaza on Dec. 2

A ‘Peter Pan’-to opens in Surrey this week, and tickets are being snapped up

Show at Surrey Arts Centre is produced by FVGSS, A Musical Theatre Company

Threatened frog re-discovered in Delta Nature Reserve

The Burns Bog Conservation Society is asking residents to report sightings of the red-legged frog

White Rock pier light show

Dancing lights highlighted off the water front

B.C. to allow ride hailing services to operate in 2019

Fee will be applied to fund options for disabled people

Burnaby woman’s car crash death now considered a homicide

Nicole Hasselmann, 34, was killed and a man was sent to hospital after the crash

Chocolate lab missing along Coquihalla

Brad Gibson is asking for help locating his missing dog.

B.C. connection to launch of new $10 bill

Great nephew of Viola Desmond says bill is a ‘step in the right direction’

Elections BC keeps eye on Canada Post dispute, but no change in Nov. 30 deadline

Vote No spokesman say an extension of one or two weeks would ensure all ballots are counted

Langley school pulls Japanese ‘rising sun’ flag after student petition

School district promises consultation with students and parents, defends using flag for war history

Calgary bobsled death inquiry recommends infrared technology, safety audits

A judge found the deaths of 17-year-old twins Evan and Jordan Caldwell were accidental and caused by blunt-force head and neck trauma

Most Read