Baylor MIS Students Compete in Microsoft's 2011 Imagine CupFeb. 15, 2011
Baylor Management Information Systems (MIS) students design a business plan and technology capable of addressing one of the U.N. Millennium Goals on poverty and hunger.
by Kelsey McCarty
Waco, Texas, home of Baylor University, is also home to a frightening statistic.
Current statistics from the Waco Tribune Herald and Bureau of Labor Statistics rate poverty levels at 30.9 percent; however, seven Baylor students and a TSTC student are using their knowledge and technology skills to improve that percentage.
Microsoft hosts a yearly competition called Imagine Cup | USA. Microsoft has designed this competition to encourage students to better utilize technology in order to address needs and goals in their community.
"The Imagine Cup is a competition where students design a business plan and technology that will address one of the U.N. Millennium Goals like poverty or hunger," said Brandon Satrom, a 2000 Baylor graduate and Microsoft Technology Evangelist.
"We have had eight social sector leaders in our class talking about the social problems in Waco," said Hope Koch, associate professor of Information Systems. "The students spent a day at the homeless shelter trying to grasp the problem in the Waco community."
Students submitting their models in the Microsoft competition are Brian Keffer, Amanda Mitchell, Brooke Mills, Ethan Briggs, Kendall Zapffe, Nick Stephens, Chris Welcelean and James Han.
Team "Baylor Gold" and "The Mobilizers" are implementing project plans to help poverty levels in two unique ways. Both project plans are using the advantages of technology. And both teams stress the need for community participation, service and action.
Team "Baylor Gold" is creating a system to respond instantly to those in poverty.
Ethan Briggs, James Han, Nick Stephens, Brooke Mills
Waco's Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) formed the basis of the idea. Baylor Gold's mobile application will allow citizens to locate resources for the homeless like shelter and food from their mobile phone.
"The Mobilizers" are hoping to boost the number of service volunteers. Many organizations are in constant need of more volunteers. Unfortunately, current volunteers are unable to locate suitable opportunities and immediate need within specific organizations.
Chris Welcelean, Kendall Zapffe, Amanda Mitchell, Brian Keffer
The team's solution is a database similar to an electronic marketplace like E-bay. Their marketplace will help volunteers and volunteer organizations find one another. Volunteers will be able to create an account, which will retain general information such as age, skills and times of availability.
This business model seeks to bridge the gap between volunteers and service organizations. The network will make the information about service organizations' needs readily available to volunteers.
"We had meetings with local service community leaders and they all talked about their problems and things they haven't been able to solve," said Brian Keffer, junior MIS major. "Then we started realizing the power behind our brainstorming. A few of us got to go to the Meyer center. We talked with the homeless and saw what they were going through and how dedicated they are to finding jobs to get themselves out of poverty."
Both Baylor teams have submitted their project plans and advanced to round two of the competition. By March 14, they will have a working prototype of their system, an updated business plan, and a five-minute video explaining the solution.
After all submissions on March 14, judges will pick a finalist in each category. Ten finalists (five teams from the fall and five from the spring) will move on to the U.S. Finals in Seattle, Washington, in April 2011.
The winning team at the U.S. Finals will win $8,000, a $25,000 donation to their school, Windows Phone 7s for the team, and a trip to New York City to compete in the Worldwide Finals. The overall winner will win a Worldwide title and $25,000.
For complete details and rules visit: http://www.imaginecup.us/competitions/SoftwareDesign