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CS Square Pitch Competition encourages students to make their ideas a reality

Author: Communications

Posted on Dec 21, 2015

Category: In the Media , UNB Fredericton , UNB Homepage , myUNB

UNB’s Computing Science Creative Space Centre (CS Square) held their Student Pitch Competition recently, awarding three prizes for the top business ideas.

The Student Pitch Competition has become increasingly popular among computer science students this year, with the number of submissions doubling those of last year.

Rizwan Ali, master of computer science student, won first place in the competition for “Know Your Child”, an app that helps parents identify symptoms of mental illness their children may be experiencing. The app has a video game interface for young children and a separate interface for parents. As the child plays, the app examines the behavioural patterns of the child and presents data to the parents who can then consult with their physician.

In their value proposition, Ali’s group expressed that according to the Canadian Mental Health Association, “In Canada, only 1 out of 5 children who need mental health services receives them.” The app is designed to help parents who may not be able to identify the signs or symptoms in their children themselves.

Iman Sharafaldin, UNB PhD student, won second place for “Just feed me”, a mobile app that allows users to quickly place fast food orders in the drive through lane through the use of barcodes. Ordering can take anywhere from 10 seconds to a minute depending on the complexity of an order and during rush hour “Just feed me” could save customers up to 10 minutes of wait time.

George Yousseff, UNB bachelor of information systems student, won third place in the competition for “Cedar Systems”, a wifi network that allows businesses to provide more secure wifi to their customers by allocating a time limit per purchase. The exact amount can be tailored to sales, time of day, day of the week, etc.

“It honestly came out of not wanting to connect to an insecure wifi [network] when I was in Boston,” said Yousseff. “I was like ‘anybody could be connected to this just looking at all the information’ and people do banking and all kinds of stuff like that on [insecure networks].”

Yousseff was inspired to find a way to provide more secure access to wifi to customers while also providing a benefit to the businesses hosting the network. While he will tell you that it’s not a perfect, it is much more secure than allowing people to connect with a password and continue to reconnect whenever they’re in the area or not having a password at all.

The Student Pitch Competition is one of CS Square’s ongoing initiatives to promote innovation and entrepreneurship within the faculty of computer science by providing entrepreneurship training to its students. The Centre also offers workshops and their Bits&Bytes series to students.

“I normally participate in Bits&Bytes and all the workshops,” said Ali. “Their workshops are actually pretty good, and this term they were really good. They had really interesting programming things and tools, so like those were really good too.”

Ali was involved in the last Pitch Competition and used that experience to help prepare himself and his team. He teamed up with students studying in faculty of business administration to build a stronger business plan and had support from a UNB graduate and fellow entrepreneur to help him prepare his pitch.

While Yousseff has done many presentations at UNB, this was the first time he has ever pitched a business idea, which required a lot of practice in anticipation for competition day. Yousseff, a student ambassador for the Pand Deshpande Centre, said that the Centre provided lots of support and help leading up to the big day.

As many students are pitching for the first time, all Student Pitch Competition participants, including the winners, receive feedback on their pitches. “Not only do you get the prize, they tell you on areas to improve so it really helps you and lets you know for next time what you can do better,” said Yousseff.

Sharafaldin sees a bright future for the information technology sector in New Brunswick. “I think the Maritimes has a great potential because we have very good scholars here, we have UNB and also we have Dalhousie in Nova Scotia,” said Sharafaldin.

He went on to say that New Brunswick has the potential to progress very quickly “by supporting new ideas, supporting entrepreneurs, supporting enthusiasm.”

More about the CS Square Student Pitch Competition winners

First place: Rizwan Ali for “Know your child”: Know your child is a mobile app designed to help parents of young children identify signs of mental illness. The app works on the principle of family therapy, examining the behavioural pattern of a child through a series of games. Data mining techniques allow the app to monitor the pattern of the child’s behaviour.

Ali is completing his master of computer science with a concentration in social network analysis. He and the rest of the team are in the process of completing their feasibility study and developing and testing the app.

Second place: Iman Sharafaldin for “Just feed me”: Just feed me is a mobile app that allows users to quickly place fast food orders in the drive through lane through the use of barcodes. Ordering can take anywhere from 10 seconds to a minute depending on the complexity of an order and during rush hour “Just feed me” could save customers up to 10 minutes of wait time.

Sharfaldin’s goal is to sell the idea of Just feed me to big fast food chains like Tim Horton’s and McDonald’s in Canada. He is currently looking for a business student to join their team.

Third place: George Yousseff for “Cedar systems”: Cedar Systems is a wifi network that allows businesses to provide more secure wifi to their customers by allocating a time limit per purchase. The exact amount can be tailored to sales, time of day, day of the week, etc. Cedar systems is much more secure than allowing people to connect with a password and continue to reconnect whenever they’re in the area or not having a password at all.

Yousseff is in his last year of study at UNB and is currently looking to partner with another UNB student who can development the technical aspects of Cedar Systems.