The Annandale Campus hosted HackDC 2015 in the Richard J. Ernst Community Cultural Center in September. The event attracted students from several different colleges and universities in the Northern Virginia area and across the nation.
During HackDC, the participants worked with clinicians, technology experts and veterans to develop different mobile apps that could help with managing PTSD. Through the hackathon, LongView International Technology Solutions encouraged collaboration and also raised awareness about PTSD, which affects one in three troops returning home to the United States.
Brian Burack, a first-year computer science student at NOVA, had great success at LongView’s first HackDC. Burack and his teammates were recognized for creating the Best Mobile App for Clinicians during the weekend-long event.
Burack and his teammates developed “myBivy,” a mobile app that can be used on a smart watch to help monitor a veteran’s sleep patterns and track data about whether the veteran has night terrors or exhibits any other symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) while resting. With the data generated by myBivy, clinicians can use the information to treat veterans. The goal is to decrease the frequency of night terrors and other PTSD symptoms.
Although only in his first semester at NOVA, Burack has shown a lot of potential and takes what he learns and applies it to real-life situations, according to Computer Science Professor Ahmed Abdel-Latif.
“My goal when I teach is to infuse passion and hard-wired problem solving abilities to my students. Brian has been an excellent student who does not take the course materials only at the teaching level. He’s always trying to correlate the materials to practical usage,” Abdel-Latif said. “We stress creativity and teamwork on certain projects when I teach alongside my students. Brian has taken this collaborative problem-solving technique and used it with a team to build something that can possibly help veterans with PTSD.”
Burack worked with Tyler Skluzacek of Macalester College, Damola Adediran and Sarah Kirby of University of Maryland – Baltimore County, and Sravya Kalva of George Mason University. The team won $1,500 for their efforts and has plans to continue to develop the app in hopes of changing lives. They first hope to raise funds and receive support through a Kickstarter campaign. As of October 26, the team had raised close to $20,000.
Tara Seth, a business administration student at NOVA, was recognized during HackDC 2015 as well. Seth, who participated with a group of students from George Mason University and will graduate from NOVA in spring 2016, received the People’s Choice Award. Seth and her team decided to donate their $500 cash prize to veteran causes.