In the spirit of giving back and lending a helping hand, computer engineering seniors from the University at Albany decided to focus their capstone project last spring on developing new technology that could improve employment opportunities for people with disabilities.
The students – Andrew Boggio-Dandry, Anthony Castro, Egzon Shehu and Steven Yoo – partnered with the New York State Industries for the Disabled (NYSID) and Living Resources, two agencies whose mission is to improve the lives of those with disabilities.
The tool they constructed, dubbed Bee Notified, provides digital reminders to streamline time management. The application can store calendar events, such as a work shifts, and notifies users to ensure they stay on task and get where they need to be on time. Unlike other calendar-based applications, Bee Notified recognizes the user’s location and compares it with where they should be as determined by calendar events. If a user doesn’t arrive at their expected location at the expected time, administrators are notified.
“The UAlbany ‘Bee Notified’ capstone design team has set a standard for others to follow,” said College of Engineering and Applied Sciences Dean Kim Boyer. “Their work is not just a technical achievement; it also exemplifies the College mission of ‘Science in Service to Society.'”
After completing their app, the team entered Bee Notified in the CREATE Symposium in April, and took home third place and a check for $5,000. The students were equally grateful for the experience and support provided by NYSID and Living Resources.
“From the outset, the dedicated team of people at both NYSID and Living Resources have been receptive to our questions and supportive of our ideas,” said Castro. “It has been really fantastic to work with them and experience the support they have for their student program. The staff took time out of their day to speak with us whenever we needed feedback or had questions. In these conversations, we were able to hear some of the stories of disabled clients who had their lives changed by the organization, as well as feedback on the positive aspects of the Bee Notified system and possible improvements.”
Located in New York’s capital city, the University at Albany offers its more than 17,000 students the expansive opportunities of a major research university and an environment designed to foster success.