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Thursday, May 15, 2008

Four undergraduates win $25,000 prize in Google mobile software competition

Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Professor Hal Abelson, left, stands proudly with students who won the Google Android Prize, just after their presentation. They are Christina Wright,senior in electrical engineering and computer science, Claire Bayley,sophomore in physics, Carter Jernigan, senior in electrical engineering and computer science, and Jasper Lin, senior in math.
Four MIT undergraduates shared a $25,000 prize as round one winners in Google's Android Developer Challenge, a worldwide open competition for software developers based off Google's Android software stack for mobile applications.

The students--sophomore Clare Bayley and seniors Carter Jernigan, Jasper Lin and Christina Wright--were awarded the prize for their term project in 6.087/6.081: "Building Mobile Applications with Android."

The winning project, "Locale," lets cell-phone users manage settings on their mobile devices. Unlike normal settings managers, Locale can automatically change settings based your current location, for example turning the ringer to vibrate when you enter work or class, or automatically forwarding calls to a landline when you are at home.

6.087/6.081 is an experimental course offered this semester by the EECS department in cooperation with MIT's Information Services and Technology (IS&T). The course was taught by EECS Professor Hal Abelson with the assistance of Andrew Yu, manager of IS&T's mobile-devices platform project. The course taught how to pick a project idea and rapidly bring it to fruition through the prototype phase.

One noteworthy feature of the course was its use of mentors--professional application developers from the Boston-area software developer community who volunteered to work with the teams. The mentor for the Locale team was Eric Carlson of ConnectedBits.

Locale was one of 50 winning projects selected from a field of 1,800 entries. As round one winners, the MIT students are eligible to compete for higher levels in the challenge, leading to prizes of up to $275,000.

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