October 22, 2018

October 22, 2018


Jindal School Student Uses Coding Skills to Win Charity Competition

Shobhit Dalal

Shobhit Dalal is a graduate student in the Naveen Jindal School of Management.

Surrounded by empty coffee cups and an endless supply of snacks, UT Dallas student Shobhit Dalal and his teammates stayed up all night recently, racing the clock to design a creative technological solution for a real challenge faced by a nonprofit.

Dalal, a graduate student in the Naveen Jindal School of Management, and his team used their creativity and technical skills to win first place in JPMorgan Chase’s Code for Good Web application challenge at Chase’s corporate office in Columbus, Ohio.

The competition brought together 66 students who are studying technology at 23 universities across the nation to help create innovative solutions to solve social challenges. The students were divided into 12 teams and were given 24 hours to create a technological solution for one of two nonprofits: American Red Cross and National Wildlife Federation (NWF).

Dalal’s five-member team was assigned the NWF, an organization that works to protect wildlife and their habitat and inspire future generations of conservationists.

After hours of planning, consulting, building and coding, the team presented to judges their mobile and Web solution that connects new farmers with experienced farmers so they can share advice and practices that will help sustain the environment.

“Our challenge was to come up with a prototype of an optimum solution so that veteran farmers could connect with nonveteran farmers and share knowledge about effective methods to help protect the ecosystem,” Dalal said.

Code for Good winners

The winning team: Dalal (center) and his teammates attribute excellent teamwork and their diverse skills for their win at JPMorgan Chase’s Code for Good Web application challenge.

The team’s application — My Garden — features photos and stories about farmers, discussions, success stories, a blog for experienced farmers, and a FAQ page where questions are asked and farmers can vote on their preferred answers.

The team was selected, along with three others, for the final round, and after presenting their prototype in that round, Dalal and his teammates were announced as the first-place team and won Apple iPad Air tablets.

“We were so excited to win,” Dalal said. “In the planning phase, we were not expecting to win, but as we started to really know what we were building and what could come of the product during the building phase, we started to believe in ourselves and believed we could win if we coded well.”

Dalal, an information technology and management student from Bombay, India, who expects to graduate in spring 2016, said he and his teammates attribute excellent teamwork and diverse skills among their group for their win.

“Everyone brought something new to the table, and this diverse set of skills helped us distribute the work throughout the night and enabled us to create a functioning prototype that was designed very well,” said teammate Ishmeet Grewal, a sophomore computer science and engineering major at Ohio State University.

“We kept a very upbeat vibe throughout the competition,” said teammate Kim Farinaka, a junior software engineering student at Miami University. “We made sure everyone was getting their work completed and helped each other along the way. At the very end of the competition, we started feeling the time crunch and worked really hard to pull the Web application together.”

Dalal said one of the biggest challenges of the contest was being unfamiliar with all of the technologies the students would be using. With the competition now behind him, Dalal said, “I’m happy that I can now say that I know how these technologies work and how to code in a specific technology.”

While winning the challenge was a wonderful triumph, Dalal said the lessons he learned from the experience — working under pressure with people he didn’t know, thinking quickly on his feet, learning new technologies — are more important as they will help take him through college and beyond.

Media Contact: Jill McDermott, UT Dallas, (972) 883-4951, [email protected]
or the Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected]

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