Video – My Team Competes in GRCC’s Innovation Competition

Visualization of Parking Feature of App

My favorite thing about working at Grand Rapids Community College is the small group of amazing people I get to collaborate with on a regular basis on really innovative and tech-driven projects (many of which we’ve managed to get through bureaucratic hurdles and actually put into practice – like being the first college in Michigan to offer text message alerts for students/employees in crisis situations back in 2005).

Some of these people (Szymon Machajewski, Garret Brand, and Eric Kunnen) and I recently entered GRCC’s “Armen Award” competition as a team with a mobile application built entirely by Szymon in his free time based on a concept we developed that would help save both students and the college time and money and promote conservation and sustainable practices at the college.

You can read the full write-up here, but essentially the app makes use of the college’s existing data systems to provide people with timely information to make better decisions.  The core is a social networking platform that allows anyone to submit a conservation-minded idea, and crowdsource the evaluation process by allowing other users to vote up or down on the submissions.

We pre-loaded it with a number of our own ideas – for example:

  • We can tie into the student ID system and provide students real-time updates on where parking is available on campus.
  • Or we can allow people to “print” documents to their mobile phone rather than using printers.
  • We can also tap into the under-utilized “GreenRide” service the college offers to promote carpooling.
  • It could also analyze employee calendars and suggest carpooling when several employees are traveling to the same meeting at another location.
  • We could also streamline the publishing of faculty absences so students are instantly notified when a faculty member cancels class (currently the system is cumbersome to manage and many commuter students arrive on campus long after the faculty absence has been published).

Our presentation and Q&A session begins at 1:12:07 in the video (many thanks to GRCC’s superb Media Technologies department for editing our scattered thoughts into a coherent presentation):

Unfortunately we didn’t place in the top three, but we know our idea is a good one and we’re going to pursue it anyway.

3 thoughts on “Video – My Team Competes in GRCC’s Innovation Competition

  1. Jason Johnson says:

    Great job! I watched the video presentation and you guys did an awesome job. I love the idea and well, it sounds like it already exists in code so it’s much than an idea already. I’m glad your going to continue with the effort. Very cool.


    1. Derek DeVries says:

      Thanks man! I’ll pass along your kind words to the team. Fortunately the framework already exists, we just need the resources to develop it. Best of all, the design is going to be open-source so we’d be able to provide it to other schools/organizations to use for their own purposes.


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