SCI students win top prize in Deloitte Challenge mobile app development contest

A team of three Lipscomb University students recently took top honors and $9,000 in prize money in the first-ever Deloitte Challenge, a competition among Nashville’s colleges and universities that challenges students to demonstrate their technical know-how by developing a working mobile application to solve a practical business problem.

Deloitte Challenge 2013For the inaugural challenge, teams were asked to develop a mobile app that would facilitate coffee/food runs for groups working on client sites. Each team had access to a mentor from Deloitte to assist them in thinking through customer needs and other development issues. Following a three-week intensive development period, each team submitted their apps and delivered a presentation to a team of judges from Deloitte. The apps were evaluated based on usefulness, innovation, technology and quality. Results were announced at a banquet hosted by Deloitte at the Music City Sheraton Hotel on Feb. 23.

Lipscomb’s School of Computing and Informatics fielded two teams in the challenge. The team comprised of Alexander Givant, a senior computer science major; Marian Rushdy, a senior electrical and computer engineering major; and Stuart Pounders, a junior computer science major; placed first ahead of teams of undergraduate and graduate students from Middle Tennessee State University, Belmont University and Fisk University. Also competing in the challenge from Lipscomb was a team of computer science seniors led by captain Phillip Yates, including Christina Martin and Dylan Jones.

“It is great to see Deloitte encouraging and investing in this emerging talent. We were all impressed with the ideas that the teams presented, and it took quite a bit of discussion to come up with the three finalists,” said Lawrence Blank-Cook, director of Knowledge Management Solutions at Deloitte and one of the contest judges.

The Lipscomb team won the competition with its app iOrder, a mobile application for the Android platform allowing users to order premium coffee and lattes from the convenience of their mobile phone. Each team member received $3,000 in prize money.

“I am extremely proud of both of our teams; they really love what they do and it shows,” said Steve Nordstrom, director of undergraduate programs for Lipscomb University’s School of Computing and Informatics and the faculty sponsor for the two Lipscomb teams. “Their passion for their craft along with their enthusiasm and strong work ethic carried the day. It is very exciting to imagine how each of these students will be changing the landscape of computing in the years to come. They are ready.”

Students said the contest was a challenging and beneficial learning opportunity.

"The competition was a great experience, and it was made even better because I had a great team. We worked really well together, and it paid off in the end. It was a lot of fun and is something I would definitely do again,” Givant, captain of the winning Lipscomb team.

“Personally, the pressure and the competition in this challenge pushed me to solve problems faster and brainstorm the necessary functionality more efficiently,” said Rushdy. “I also appreciate the importance of the design stage that leads up to implementation. Every second working on this app was very enjoyable and fulfilling. I feel more confident in my programming skills than the day I started and I would most certainly do it again if I had the chance.”

For more information about the School of Computing and Informatics, visit technology.lipscomb.edu.