‘I hope that it helps people’

NDSU students are positively impacting the community and using technology to create innovative solutions to local needs.

Seniors Brian Friedt, Kaylee Swenson and Dylan Taves are designing an app for the Gladys Ray Shelter in Fargo to better help the homeless population and their caretakers in the Fargo-Moorhead area.

The app is designed to connect the mobile outreach team at Gladys Ray with those who need their services.

“The app will help the people already helping homeless people of Fargo better improve their operations,” said Freidt, a computer science student from Harvey, North Dakota.

“It will help them track statistics and trends so they can see the impact they are having and improve their tactics in response to their measured success.”

Users of the app will be able to contact Gladys Ray and request assistance directly. This will streamline the process for connecting with a local shelter. The app also will allow the shelter to respond to messages and collect statistics they can use to improve their services.

“I think this app would be a way that we can minimize the damage to people, mentally and emotionally, because they will have people to talk to and resources,” said Taves, a computer engineering student from Glyndon, Minnesota. “I think this is going to be a good resource for people to use and I hope that it helps people. That’s the goal.”

The project is part of the Grand Challenges Scholars Program at NDSU. The program aims to solve big problems with innovative engineering solutions. Students in the College of Engineering develop projects with a faculty mentor as part of the program.

“We’re getting very real-world experience,” said Swenson, a computer science student from Glyndon, Minnesota. “It’s not something you would get just in a classroom.”

The app is in its early development. Last spring, the students worked on planning and understanding what they wanted the product to do and capabilities it would need. This fall, they are starting to build the physical application.

“We are learning as we go,” Taves said.

Once the project is finished and the application is live, the group hopes the local community will get a lot of good out of what they’ve created.

“Being able to help those around us is one reason I wanted to work on this project,” Swenson said. “One of the things I want to do with my major when I graduate is to use it to better the world around us and improve the lives of others and, hopefully, help the community.”

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