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Members of the Cornell Mars Rover team operates the rover as three area young people look on during the 20th BOOM technology showcase event, April 18 in the Duffield Hall atrium.

Rovers and robots and beats, oh my! BOOM celebrates 20th year

Young Kim '20 talks about his team's mobile app, Uplift, which provides information on fitness resources at Cornell, during BOOM, April 18 in the Duffield Hall atrium.

Keivan Shahida ’20 said he has time for classes, but to hear what else the sophomore from Scarsdale, New York, has on his plate, one can’t be too sure.

Shahida is the iOS development lead for AppDev, a student-run app development group whose Pollo technology – a mobile app that tracks student responses to instructor poll questions, similar to iClicker – was featured at the 20th BOOM (Bits On Our Minds) technology showcase, April 18 in the Duffield Hall atrium.

“Initially we’re focusing on iOS app development,” Shahida said, “but now [we’re] branching into Android and web application development. We’re currently working on five different projects, including Pollo.”

As development lead, Shahida oversees all of the team’s projects – including the Ithaca Transit-Live Tracking app, also featured at BOOM – and a team of about 20 developers. AppDev also recently added operations and marketing teams to its roster, and has garnered sponsorships from several major companies.

BOOM gave Shahida’s Pollo group and the other 35 student projects featured at the event a chance to show off their stuff for fellow students, faculty and staff, and middle- and high-school students from the Ithaca area.

“A lot of the time, we’d create an app and put it out,” Shahida said, “and there wouldn’t really be any celebration or culminating moment for us to share it. So BOOM is an opportunity for us to do that.”

James Haber ’18, lead of the Cornell Mars Rover team, concurred and noted that exposing these technologies to young people can be life altering.

“There are a lot of high school students here, and we actually have two people on our team who went to Ithaca High School,” he said. “This is definitely a good opportunity to reach out to the community and show how we’re building this cool thing.”

Other projects included Deaf Dance, a wearable device that helps deaf and hard-of-hearing people see and feel the beat of dance rhythms; Banana Maven, an artificial intelligence solver that can play Bananagrams, a word game similar to Scrabble; and UpLift, an app that provides up-to-the-minute information on Cornell fitness resources.

Amy Lin '18 talk about Banana Maven, an artificial intelligence solver that can play the word game Bananagrams, during BOOM, April 18 in the Duffield Hall atrium.

According to Marcie Lanham – program coordinator in Computing and Information Science (CIS), which co-hosts BOOM with the College of Engineering – the showcase serves multiple purposes for the students and corporate sponsors.

“The main goal is students getting a chance to basically do their pitch for their projects, for future jobs, future competitions, even just launching their product, whether it be an app or whatever,” she said. “This also gets them some one-on-one time with corporate recruiters. A lot of these recruiters come looking for résumés from these students.”

The 32 corporate recruiters representing the 11 sponsors also served as judges for the project competition, with each sponsor awarding a prize of $750 to their favorite project or idea.

A middle school outreach program was held in conjunction with BOOM, according to Leslie Morris, director of communications at CIS, who helped organize the event. Approximately 50 local middle school-aged children visited hands-on stations in an engineering research lab, followed by the opportunity to attend BOOM. “The video games and robots were definitely favorite projects for them,” Morris said.

One of those robots was RoboMixer, a drink-making device and the brainchild of team members Lola Legrand ’17, MPS ’18, Sam Hamburger ’18 and Gillian Boehringer ’18. Boehringer said RoboMixer was designed and built as a project for INFO 4320 (Introduction to Rapid Prototyping and Physical Computing), which gives students a wide range of skills, including laser cutting and 3-D printing.

“Overall, it was just a fun project for us – we wanted to make something that could make something,” Boehringer said. “Whether it was food or beverage, we didn’t really know at first. It developed into this because, obviously, it’s a fun thing to do senior year, and definitely useful.”

All BOOM projects and descriptions are listed here. The award winners were:

Sponsor Awards (sponsors listed first)

  • Air Liquide: Health Tracking app for IIH (idiopathic intracranial hypertension).
  • Amazon: Ithaca Transit App.
  • A16z: UpLift.
  • Bank of America: Campus Tour app.
  • Capital One: QuACC.
  • Disney: Spyderbot.
  • Ernst & Young: Ithaca Transit App.
  • Goldman Sachs: In Domain Cross-Writer Sentiment Classification on Movie.
  • JP Morgan: Cicero DB.
  • Schlumberger: Robomixer.
  • Workday: Banana Maven.

Statistics Award: WikInsite.

Faculty Choice Award: Brella – Personal Weather.

Legacy Team Award: Cornell Autonomous Bicycle.

Media Contact

Jeff Tyson