Winning opportunities – the road to Boston
2017 was the first year of the APT Rocket.Build Academy. Undergraduate student, George Christian was the overall winner with his innovative route planning tool, Geojob.
At the time of the competition George had just completed the first year of his computer science degree at Sheffield University. He had always had a keen interest in computer languages, learning C/C++, Java Python and Haskell while still at school. George heard about the competition from the University and set about building his application from scratch. He was unfamiliar with multi-value databases but his previous experience stood him in good stead.
The winning ideas
George’s application, GeoJob, was inspired by his experience of delivering polling booths to polling stations during an election. He found that he was wasting time making roundabout journeys to different polling stations, and was inspired to design Geojob to plan the most efficient route according to the priority of different locations.
The runner up, Eddie O'Donnell is a postgraduate student from the University of Bristol. He created a restaurant comparison application. Eddie’s idea was to develop an app that would be to identify nearby restaurants according to the percentages of different food types on their menu - vegan, vegetarian, dairy free and so on, something that multi-value databases lend themselves to well.
The judges were so impressed by both ideas that they presented Eddie and George with a choice: one of them would be declared the overall winner and would receive the £5,000 prize and trip to Boston; or they could choose to share the money, both travel to Boston and the final winner would be the one to receive the accolades.
Eddie and George chose to share. Both spent a week in Boston, presenting to senior executives at Rocket Software, hearing presentations from a range of speakers and attending a performance of Rocket’s own in-house band at the Hard Rock Café. George was declared overall winner.
For George one of the best things was seeing his idea develop into a real product – something that he looks forward to doing again in the future. He also appreciated the opportunity to visit Rocket. “Rocket Software is an impressive organisation – and is full of good people to interact with. Presenting to the CEO was nerve-wracking but very valuable. And it was fun to have a visit to the USA.”
Both students felt that it was an opportunity that they would recommend to others. Eddie is already looking into ways to develop his app further, and George is looking for new projects to work on in his second year of university. And neither of them has spent the prize money yet.