Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Berkeley SaaS course Demo Day Competition winners!

In the Berkeley campus version of the ESaaS course (Computer Science 169, Software Engineering), which typically enrolls anywhere from 100 to 240 students working in teams of six, we used to have an end-of-semester poster session where every team would have a poster about their project. While it made for a lively event, it was hard for me (the instructor) to spend more than a few minutes at each poster. Of course, there are many other project deliverables, so the grade didn't really depend very heavily on the poster, but I still felt that it was a hurried and stressful process that could stand to be improved.

Last summer, Cal alumna Carina Boo, who had previously served as a TA for this course and is now a full-time software engineer at Google, was hired to guest-teach the course over the summer. It was very successful, and one of her innovations was to substitute an optional Demo Day Competition for the poster session. Participation would be completely voluntary and not carry any extra-credit points; each team would have up to a 10-minute slot to both discuss the challenges/lessons learned from the experience of working with their customer and to present some technical discussion of challenges in their app that would impress a panel of three judges who are all full-time software engineers as well as former students and former TAs of this course (Kevin Casey, now at Facebook, and Tony Lee, now at Splunk).

I decided to adopt this format for this semester as well, and it worked so well that I believe I'll keep it for future semesters. 9 out of 21 teams signed up completely voluntarily to give 10-minute presentations, and some of their customers showed up as well to offer an endorsement of the team’s work. The presentations and the work represented by them were uniformly excellent, and I’m pleased to congratulate the winners here:

1st place: Berkeley MarketPlace, a Berkeley-exclusive C2C buyer and seller market (also won Best UI/UX subcategory). Congratulations to Jiazhen Chen, Shuyin Deng, Amy Ge, Yunyi Huang, Ashton Teng, Jack Ye

2nd place: ESaaS Engagements, an app to track ESaaS customers across different institutions. Congratulations to Sungwon Cho, Joe Deatrick, Kim Hoang, Dave Kwon, Kyriaki Papadimitriou, Julie Soohoo.

Runner up: Berkeley Student Learning Center, an app to help schedule tutoring sessions. Congratulations to Jennifer Be, Haggai Kaunda, Maiki Rainton, Nah Seok, Salvador Villegas, Alex Yang.

Most Technically Challenging: a tie between two projects that the judges considered to have surmounted unusually tough technical challenges:
  • iC-uC, a lab app for optometry students  help model eye geometry and vision for the UC Berkeley Optometry School. The app had to integrate a Matlab terminal and graphs with a Java wrapper and a Rails front-end.  
  • Audience1st, a ticketing and backoffice app used by various community theaters in the Bay Area. Among the features added was the online migration of the entire authentication system to OmniAuth, without disturbing the existing login experience, and without access to customers’ current passwords.

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