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Westchester County App Bowl Searches For Health Solutions

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Westchester County and Pace University, with the David and Minnie Berk Foundation, are holding the first ever Westchester Smart Mobile App Development Bowl.

Teams of high school and college students will build apps to assist in the treatment of Alzheimer’s patients. The teams will compete for cash prizes and paid county government internships. Additional prizes are still being decided.

Apps in the competition can range from simple “busy body” games to help keep Alzheimer’s patients’ minds engaged, to apps with complex AI that can track a patient’s activity and alert doctors to noticeable changes in their device use patterns or internet searches that would indicate panic or worry.

Courtesy of Pace University

Jean Coppola

Jean Coppola, associate professor of information technology and director of the gerontechnology program at Pace, had been working with students and geriatric facilities for 10 years. She began working with students to assist the elderly with technology in 2005, which she called a huge success—that program received press coverage and sponsorship from IBM. Since then she has taught a class called “intergenerational computing,” which focuses on gerontechnology and challenges students to make a lasting difference in their communities.

“Now fast forward, we have over a dozen community partners and have built over a dozen computer labs with donated resources and grants to infuse technology to the elderly so they are not left behind,” Coppola said.

The contest was conceptualized after Pace alumni visited Coppola’s students working at a local assisted living facility and came to Coppola with a grant from the Berk Foundation. The Westchester Department of Social Services also matched the grant after being contacted by Deth Sao, the director of development at Pace Unversity’s Seidenberg School of Computer Science & Information Systems.

Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino says the competition is being held to encourage youth who are interested in technology to stay in the county.

“There is no limit on the creativity that students can apply to the apps,” Astorino said in a press release, “This is a chance for students to showcase their talents.”  

A kick off event will happen February 27. All registrants are invited to attend and stay for the workshop immediately afterwards to go over rules and help teams prepare. Pace will provide guidance and support throughout the competition with free technical resource, instruction, and workshops. The apps will be presented and judged on April 17 at Pace University.

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