NORMAN – An innovative new website to help students at the University of Oklahoma plan for their careers with appropriate class schedules was awarded the inaugural OU Innovators Prize.
Christopher Beasley, a junior majoring in economics and entrepreneurship and venture management from Edmond, Oklahoma, and Troy Smith, a junior majoring in computer science and mathematics from Midwest City, Oklahoma, captured the competition’s $10,000 prize for the website they named ScheduleNav.
The Innovators Prize challenges OU students to create innovative technology solutions that improve the university. This year’s theme was “community.” Student teams submitted their working technology solutions for judging in January. Three teams selected as finalists made presentations to judges and the public in February.
“We were excited to launch this competition to give OU students an opportunity to think creatively about how to improve campus through technology,” said Erin Wolfe, executive director of OU’s Office of Strategic Initiatives and Innovators Prize program manager. “We were amazed by the innovation and hard work that went into the ideas they submitted.”
"The Innovators Prize allowed us to expand on initial concepts and aided us in bringing them to fulfillment," Smith said.
Smith and Beasley’s faculty adviser, OU Price College of Business Assistant Professor Ron Bolen, called working with the pair a true joy. “From two different colleges and two different majors, they joined forces to conceptualize and develop an amazingly disruptive offering in the scheduling space. The OU Innovator’s Prize gave Troy and Chris the opportunity to push themselves technically and professionally. They represent what is great about OU and our community.”
Computer engineering juniors Andrew Nguyen from Yukon, Oklahoma, and Darius Ngo from Oklahoma City, placed second in the competition with QuickRoom, a mobile app for finding and directly scheduling available study rooms and resources on campus. Third place went to chemistry doctoral student Christopher Varjas from Southport, Connecticut, for EventLogic, a data model for recommending related student groups based on existing student memberships and preferences.
"The life skills that we've gained are priceless,” Nguyen said. “We hope that this is a reoccurring event, as we believe it is an amazing way to bring great ideas out of students' minds into the real world.”
George Thomas, director of technology engagement and student experience in OU’s Office of Information Technology and an Innovators Prize judge said, “I was blown away by the talent displayed in all of the students’ submissions. The enthusiasm they displayed toward solving problems and making life better on campus was inspiring. I can’t wait to see how the competition grows from this year to next.”