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Purdue team takes home top honors in ECS Hackathon

Thursday, August 12, 2021

Hackathon team

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the nature of work. From the office to the commute, the boardroom and beyond, no part of the workplace remains untouched.

In a recent hackathon on the topic hosted by ECS, seven students from Krannert’s MS in Business Analytics and Information Management (MS BAIM) program took home the top prize with an app that helps companies improve the mental health of their workforce.   

Participants used open-source data to address the challenges of this new abnormal and create innovative workforce solutions aimed at shaping the future of work. Teams competed across two brackets: one for ECS employees and a graduate bracket for students interested in developing enterprise solutions.

The three final teams selected by judges in each bracket were measured on project scalability, technical solutions, difficulty, and transportability, as well as overall value in addressing the future of work. The finalists presented their projects live via a web conference to ECS leadership, industry experts, and academics.

The winning team from the student bracket — “What the Hack!” — was comprised of Krannert MS BAIM students (pictured, l to r): Anisha Desai, Snigdha Rai, Mayank Jha, Kshama Sharma, Usama Ather, Prerak Patel, and Sakshee Agarwal.

“It was a great experience working with my team,” says Agarwal. “With our versatile experiences in the tech and management space, each of us had something unique to contribute to the project, which is what made it a success.”

The topic was open ended and left a lot of room for innovation and creativity, she says.

“Instead of just going with a technical topic like other teams, we decided to address a more pressing issue that we were passionate about — mental health,” Agarwal says. “Our app was Espoir, which means hope, and was designed to help improve an employee’s mental health while also benefiting the company, making it an essential workplace requirement to adjust to the new normal.”

According to Jha, the Espoir app provides a forum within an organization for all employees to self-assess their mental health using diagnostic surveys.

“Since the surveys are anonymous, it affords individuals a sense of privacy while divulging information about their mental well-being,” Jha says. “Managers and administrators get to check on the status of their employees’ mental health, as well as keep track of the progress made.”

The app also incorporates mental well-being tools like Mood Tracker for employees to keep stress and anxiety at bay.  These tools are accessible at any time of the day based on the user’s convenience.

Agarwal says the experience allowed her to implement not only what she learned through the MS BAIM program, but also her previous work experience. “I got new insights into building a product from ground up, working as a team, and delivering a well-executed presentation to a panel of professionals,” she says.