Joel Austin of Sewickley and Gregory McKibbin of Warren, both sophomores, created an app called BABL designed to help Pitt students on all campuses meet and connect with other students in order to speak or learn to speak another language.
The University of Pittsburgh’s Computing Services and Systems Development department sponsored the contest for students on all five Pitt campuses. The Pitt-Bradford students placed second from among 25 entrants in the “Code It” category, which required them to build a working prototype of their app that functions on a mobile device.
The Pitt-Bradford students will share a prize of $2,000 in Amazon gift cards.
The app ties Pitt usernames to Facebook accounts, allowing them to use Facebook to connect once matched. Users can search for others by campus as well as language. Users can add up to five languages when they sign up.
Austin explained how he got the idea for the app.
“When I was just starting to learn Japanese three years ago, it was very difficult for me to find anyone who could teach me, and relying solely on textbooks will never get you anywhere in your studies,” he said.
McKibbin came up with the name BABL, which puts a modern twist on the biblical Tower of Babel.
Don Lewicki, associate professor of CIS&T and director of the program, said, “This is an outstanding achievement for these students, who represent our program so well.”
Austin said that BABL will be released in the Google Play Store this summer.