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On Friday December 2nd we reached an important milestone for this year’s Notre Dame App Challenge when we held our Poster Day at the Hesburgh Library on the University of Notre Dame campus. The Notre Dame App Challenge is a first-ever event to give anyone on campus—students, faculty and staff—the chance to build their app from concept to reality, get real-world help refining their idea, and compete for over $10,000 in prizes. The Challenge started September 12th, 2016, will conclude in March 2017, and is open to all Notre Dame students, faculty and staff at Notre Dame. It is funded by the university and SAP provides orchestration and technical assistance throughout the process.

Drawing from Notre Dame President Fr. John Jenkins’ charge to “advance our vision of Notre Dame as a powerful force to heal, unify, and enlighten our world”, ideas submitted for the Challenge should build their idea around one or more of these three goals. 

Challenge Structure 

The App Challenge operates on a three-round model. Round 1 was open to anyone at the main Notre Dame campus and involved the submission of over 80 ideas. A committee of judges from across campus selected 20 submissions to proceed to Round 2, which involved working with those chosen submissions to prototype and refine the app ideas. These 20 semi-finalist ideas received expert assistance from across campus in areas including user experience, interface design, intellectual property, technical feasibility and information security. One of SAP’s contributions to the challenge was to host a SAP Code Jam on November 1st to teach student teams how to prototype application ideas on the Hana Cloud Platform.

The judging committee will soon select three finalists to proceed to Round 3, in which each of the three finalists is paired with student developers hired by Notre Dame to design and build the a minimum viable product of each finalist idea into a real native or web app (depending on the content and customer needs). At the end of Round 3, each finalist will present their app to the judging committee during a public presentation in March 2017, and the committee will choose the grand prize winner.

The Poster Day provided a unique opportunity for the competing teams to share personal insights on their ideas and express the passion they have for bringing these innovative apps to life. Many of the teams were able to demonstrate working prototypes of their app. In addition to our judges, the event was open to the public and all members of the Notre Dame community including faculty, staff and students. We had a great turnout and were very pleased to use a brand new space in the Hesburgh Library, the Scholars Lounge. This recently completed room is part of a multi-year Hesburgh Library Renovation. Guided by a master plan, the renovation is a multi-phased process begun in December of 2014 and spanning several years. The focus will be on a bold and total space transformation that creates connections among scholars, services and resources; enhances teaching and research; and inspires learning and discovery for Notre Dame students and faculty in the digital age.

We look forward to selecting our finalists who will then proceed on to build an app for the final judging session in March.