Health

Disrupt Berkeley Blog 1 – Michael Zhu

This semester (Fall 2019), I am taking a course called Disrupt Berkeley where we have to develop a solution to a problem on the Berkeley campus. It is a new Challenge Lab course (INDENG 185E) under the SCET Entrepreneurship Certificate.

Coming into this class as a first semester freshman, I was a little nervous about team formation because I wasn’t sure if people would want to take in an inexperienced newbie. However, I knew my strengths best and marketed my ability to code and build web/mobile applications, which I knew would be in high demand. Thankfully, I was able to form a team with Joyce Thong, Josh Gonzalez, Hannah Shirley, and Dillon Patel. I love the fact that we are made up of a very balanced and diverse group of individuals. We have freshmen, junior transfers, exchange students, Haas majors, CS majors, and even an interdisciplinary major.

The problem that our team wants to tackle is the current inability for students to track their meal swipes and flex dollars. If students want to know how many swipes they have left each week, they must log in the cal1card website every time and manually count the swipes they have used. The website is designed poorly and has no indication of when the meal swipes reset so students can only guess an approximation for their number of swipes left. To solve this, we hope to create a mobile application that allows students to view their meal plan information in an easy and simple manner. Some of the features will include displaying the number of swipes left per week, keeping track of flex dollar usage, and being able to upgrade meal plans through the app.

However, this meal plan tracking app is only the beginning of our project idea. We want to expand our project and make it scalable across not just Berkeley’s campus but all other academic institutions as well. To accomplish this, we will implement a rating system for the food items that each dining hall makes. This allows students to provide direct feedback to their school’s dining system on what food items are most popular and iteratively improve the weekly menu. We can take this data and analyze it using machine learning to provide even deeper insights to colleges about their students’ health, eating habits/preferences, general well-being, etc.

Regarding my predictions/fears/strengths/weaknesses about this project, I have an overall positive outlook about what our final product will look like. My most optimistic prediction is that we go on to represent our class and win at the Collider Cup. At the very least I want to get a good grade in this class to keep up my GPA. Some fears I have are about whether or not we will have enough time to produce the finished product that we have conceptualized so far. I think our team has a lot of strengths; we have coders to build the product and business oriented minds to lead the ideation and market research parts of the project. A weakness we might have is the time scheduling for the when our team will work together. All of us have very different schedules and we already had some difficulty in planning when our first team meeting would be. However, I believe we will be able to overcome this through intelligent task delegation and effective communication.


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