Apps for Societal Impact


Mobile App



Students will self-organize into teams to identify a social problem that can be addressed by creating a new mobile technology. Students can apply to participate in the CITRIS Mobile App Challenge from December 17, 2015 to January 29, 2016 at 11:59 pm PST.

Over the course of the Winter and Spring 2016 quarters, students will develop the apps while receiving mentorship & guidance from CITRIS faculty & staff, entrepreneurs, developers, non-profit leaders and prospective clients.

The challenge will culminate with a public Demo Day at the end of the spring quarter where teams will give short presentations and prizes will be awarded in various categories. Teams may win up to $2,500 in scholarship funds and preferred consideration for application to startup incubator programs.

Slide overview of CITRIS Mobile App Challenge:

Participation Criteria

  • Teams must comprise at least three members
  • All team members must be currently enrolled at UC Davis (either graduate or undergrad)
  • Mobile app must address a need in Connected Communities & Civic Tech; Health & Wellness; People & Robots; and Sustainability & the Environment
  • Projects must NOT be an existing, sponsored research or faculty project
  • Teams must commit to weekly updates and presenting the results of their work at a final event in May 2016


Meet every Friday from 11:30 – 1:00 pm, Room 1065, Kemper Hall

Feb. 12: “Defining the Problem” presentation by the Big Bang Business Program

Feb. 19: “Pitching like a Pro” presentation by the Big Bang Business Program

Feb. 26: “IBM Bluemix” presentation from Nanci Knight, IBM

March 4: User interface and user experience training

March 11: Front-end & back-end development

March 18: Front-end & back-end development

April 1: “Perfect your elevator pitch” presentation by Big Bang Business Program

April 8: Prototype testing/refinement

April 22 “Pitch refinement & presentation practice” presentation by Big Bang Business Program

April 29: Last-minute app refinement and pitch practice

May 6: Public Pitch & Demo Day! 1:00 – 3:00 pm, Bruce and Marie West Lobby, Kemper Hall 


Teams will be assigned mentor(s) with specific domain expertise in the project’s field. Mentors will work with the teams to ensure that the projects progress and develop within the timeline.


Weekly workshops will serve as check-ins for the teams. During these workshops, mentors will work with teams to track the development of their progress and industry or academic experts will present seminars.


Teams will have the opportunity to network with UCD faculty & staff, entrepreneurs, developers, non-profit leaders and most importantly, themselves. We hope to build a community of future leaders who share the same passion for societal impact.


The CITRIS Mobile App Challenge aims to be an experiential learning process for students. Students will learn and develop skills in app design & development, project management, teamwork, marketing and communication.

Why Apply?

  1. Add a prominent addition beyond regular work or internships to your resume
  2. Win up to $2,500 in awards!
  3. Gain university and industry visibility as an innovator and entrepreneur
  4. Receive all-star mentorship from leading industry app design experts, local start-up incubators, and the Graduate School of Management
  5. Utilize state-of-the-art glassboard design resources at the Dorf Design and Communications Classroom Kemper Hall
  6. Be invited to showcase your app at the annual CITRIS Day Reception at UC Berkeley
  7. Qualify for follow-on funding and development opportunities at the State- or National-level
  8. Have fun while enacting change that addresses society’s most pressing problems


The Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society (CITRIS) creates information technology solutions for many of our most pressing social, environmental, and health care problems. To promote innovation, community service, and career development among UC Davis students, CITRIS, the Big Bang! Business Competition, and the UC Davis Engineering Student Startup Center are sponsoring a two quarter-long competition for the best mobile apps that address identified needs in Connected Communities & Civic Tech; Sustainability & the Environment; Robotics; or Health & Wellness.

This challenge encourages teams of UC Davis students to develop innovative mobile applications for today’s most pressing societal needs. Through a rigorous 5-month process, students will design, prototype and pitch their ideas. The challenge will culminate in a selection process with prizes, along with a Demo Day to showcase the student’s projects.



Big Bang Business Logo

The Big Bang! Business Plan Competition offers mentorship, team building, education, financing and networking for aspiring entrepreneurs. Big Bang! begins in October and lasts until the following May.

By participating in the Big Bang!, you will learn how to:

    • define your problem and solution
    • develop an elevator pitch
    • define your product or service
    • evaluate the potential market
    • develop a business model
    • create a pitch presentation
    • write a business summary


The Engineering Student Startup Center (ESSC), located in 2060 Academic Surge, is a dedicated on-campus space where entrepreneurial students can gather to unleash their creative potential by facilitating ideation, prototyping their ideas and, ultimately, collaborating on technology start-ups.

The ESSC offers a wide variety of resources, including:

    • training and certification workshops
    • materials and software for the creation of prototypes
    • CubeX Trio color 3D printer for generating physical prototypes
    • Next Engine 3D scanner for digitizing 3D physical models
    • ShopBot CNC device for milling and machining of plastics, wood, and aluminum





Amazon Web Services

Big Bang Business Logo



2016 Winners

On Friday, May 6th, 6 teams pitched their apps during a public Demo Day event to a panel of judges from industrial and community organizations. The event culminated in a celebration of the students’ learning process and presentation of awards to the following teams:

  • 1st place award of $2,500: SafeTravel
  • 2nd place award of $2,000: Eventr
  • 3rd place award of $1,500: PalMe
  • 4th place award of $1,000: Food Budgt
  • Most Innovative award of $500: PalMe

Congratulations to all of the 2016 Mobile App Challenge participants! We’d also like to thank each of our judges for their time and feedback for the students:

  • Amber Harris, Program Coordinator, Child Family Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship
  • Brett Snyder, Assistant Professor of Design, Department of Design, UC Davis
  • Justin Woodjack, Co-Founder and CTO, Foodfully
  • Kyle Calica, UC Davis Student, Programmer, CITRIS Student Intern
  • Peter Forde, Senior Analyst, Innovation Alliances, University of California Office of the President (UCOP)
  • Tara Parker-Essig, UC Davis Student, UX Designer

Meet the Winners



First Place: SafeTravel (Connected Communities & Civic Tech category)

SafeTravel won the $2500 First Place Prize for their app that supports solo female travelers with access to trustworthy travel companions, a platform to exchange ‘street smarts’ among the community, and quick access to local emergency information.

SafeTravel Team: Connie Xu, Michelle Lee, Emily Alameida




Second Place: Eventr (Connected Communities category)

Eventr won the $2000 Second Place Prize with a platform that connects busy college students with career opportunities by promoting simplicity and ease-of-use with simple scheduling solutions.

Eventr Team: Disha Bendre, Brandon Luong, Lindsay Chan, Vincent Yang, Sahana Mundewadi


Third Place & Most Innovative Award: PalMe (Health & Wellness category)

PalMe won the $1500 Third Place Prize and $500 Most Innovative Prize with an app that uses sensor-based technology and real-time data to provide virtual companion support for people with Alzheimer’s.

PalMe Team: Waghmini Lingannagari, Sahana Melkris, Bimala Bogati, Sonia Gupta


Fourth Place: Food Budgt (Health & Wellness category)

Food Budgt won the $1000 Fourth Place Prize for their app that streamlines the supply chain from the wholesaler to food banks to food insecure households.FoodBudgt Team: Suraj Jena, Kumud Ravisankaran, Pranav Gupta, Ninad Mehta, Veronica Scott



Disha Bendre, Brandon Luong, Lindsay Chan, Vincent Yang, Sahana Mundewadi
Eventr connects busy college students with the career opportunities available by promoting simplicity and ease-of-use with simple scheduling solutions. Users can minimize their time spent searching for internships, company info sessions, and other corporate events by using our application, which compiles all career related data into a simple, streamlined feed. The feed can be viewed in the app’s calendar or integrated with Google and Apple Calendars. This app pulls data from the user’s university list servs, making it essential to all students looking for future careers via university recruitment.

Food Budgt

Suraj Jena, Kumud Ravisankaran, Pranav Gupta, Ninad Mehta, Veronica Scott
Food Budgt works itself into the every link in the supply chain, all the way from the wholesaler to the food insecure households. It calculates demand from individualized balanced diets for each user, and finds out supply from local wholesaler stock data, and eventually uses merge-and-divide to route food in the right direction for maximal utilization of the resources while maintaining a health standard.


Abdulrahman Sahmoud, Arthur Shir
Hitup is a tool targeted at college students for coordinating friends who want to hang out with each other. Beginning from a person who wants to be social, Hitup takes care of coordinating everything in between with the key features of a Defined Decision Maker, an RSVP system, Organized Messaging, and Listed Event Details.


Waghmini Lingannagari, Sahana Melkris, Bimala Bogati, Sonia Gupta
Palme is an innovative sensor based technology that uses real-time data and serves as a virtual companion that takes care of patients without the aid of a caretaker. The App helps patients complete their tasks without forgetting important things. Since patients can forget or lose their phone, Palme features a GPS tracker and a voice interactive chip that is embedded in the back of a necklace or watch so the patient can continue to preset reminders and tasks without the phone in their hand. Overall, Palme ensures that patients can prolong their feelings of independence and self sufficiency and that caregivers and loved ones can feel more at ease with the security of patients well being. There is a limited amount of technology to geared towards alleviating the holistic pain of this disease, so we hope with the help of technology, our app will be a great contribution to benefitting society.


Jiarui Wang, Yang Du, Yangguang Liao
Remember the last time that you had an impulse to play basketball, but it turned into a painful process of contacting every one of your friends only to find out most of them already have plans? We can help you change it! RendevenT helps you instantly connect to others nearby who would also love to participate in the same offline activities. So the basketball plan won’t be a problem any more!


Connie Xu, Michelle Lee, Emily Alameida
Solo traveling is increasing and 72% of these travelers are women. With increased solo traveling, safety concerns grow. SafeTravel is a social network application for female solo travelers that provides access to trustworthy travel companions, a platform to exchange ‘street smarts’ among the community, and quick access to local emergency information. SafeTravel fosters a community of like-minded individuals so people can get the support when they need it, but maintain their independence when they want it.For more information about the CITRIS Mobile App Challenge challenge at UC Davis, visit the winners of the 2016 UC Berkeley CITRIS Mobile App Challenge.

Photo credit: Adriel Olmos


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