Five engineering students design software that cuts time spent waiting in line
Waiting in long lines is about as appealing to most Americans as getting a root canal or being audited by the Internal Revenue Service. A team of students from The City College of New York’s Grove School of Engineering has developed an online “virtual queuing” system that can save people time and has won kudos from CCNY students and administrators alike. The team, NextQ, won the $50,000 first prize in CCNY’s third annual Kaylie Prize entrepreneurship competition, which was announced following the final round May 21.
NextQ’s design and business plan prevailed over four other finalist teams. Senior biomedical engineering majors Mohammod Arafat, Joenard Camarista and Bhaskar Paneri, junior electrical engineering major Waqas Iqbal and freshman computer science major Kunal Paneri (Bhaskar’s brother) comprise the team.
Their software allows users to check in to a virtual line remotely by phone call, text message or computer browser. Then it sends out notices as a Tweet, text message or email as each person’s turn approaches. This helps businesses manage customer flow and frees individuals to engage in other activities during the time they would have been waiting around.
“They are addressing a problem that we all have, and that’s the best way to be successful in business,” said CCNY alumnus Harvey Kaylie (EE ‘60), who established the prize. Mr. Kaylie is president and founder of Mini-Circuits, a Brooklyn-based international corporation that designs, manufactures and distributes electronic components. He endowed the prize in 2010 to foster entrepreneurship and invention among City College students.
CCNY’s financial aid office has already put the NextQ system to the test, and it has received rave reviews from students and administrators. “This is what the financial aid office had been waiting for,” said Thelma Mason, CCNY director of financial aid.
NextQ has potential for use in both the public and private sectors. Patrons could take a place in line for a motor vehicle or unemployment office while still at home and arrive minutes before an agent is ready to assist them. At theme parks, guests could register for a popular ride and shop, get a snack or visit other attractions while they wait.
This summer, the NextQ team will use the prize money to further develop their business, with the goal of attracting capital for expansion. In addition, they will have full access to the Zahn Center for Entrepreneurship, an incubator space established on the CCNY campus last year to support technology start-ups.
The competition also awarded the $10,000 Dean’s Prize to GesTherapy for software that uses motion-capture technologies to enable patients to practice self-guided physical therapy or rehabilitation routines at home. Team members were junior computer engineering majors Luis Disla, Shaofeng Liu and Owais Naeem, and junior biomedical engineering major Tanjin Panna. Professor of Computer Engineering Zhigang Zhu was the team mentor.
UnPrint: A printer that can both print and “un-print” or use lasers to burn ink off paper, for “a greener, quicker, and more cost-effective alternative to the paper recycling process.” Team members: Amy Leidner, sophomore, mechanical engineering; Farjana Miah, sophomore, mechanical engineering; Surya Sanjiv, sophomore, mechanical engineering; Sammy Kupfer, senior, biomedical engineering. Mentor: James Scholtz, MS ’11, development engineer, Chromation (2011 Kaylie Prize winner).
The Plateau Mouse Surgical Platform: An ergonomically designed platform that tilts, rotates and has built-in features for surgery on mice used in research. Team members: All seniors in biomedical engineering, Dinely Colon, Dionne Dawkins, Nigel Gebodh, Mohammad Hasan, Rinosha Majeed. Mentor: Dr. Prasad Adusumilli, Memorial Sloan-Kettering.
AnyClimber: a radio-controlled surface-climbing robot capable of scaling virtually any vertical or horizontal surface for at hobbyists first and future commercial applications such as window washing and hazardous material removal. Team members: Ryan Parag, senior, mechanical engineering; Zafir Haque, senior, mechanical engineering; Shriram Maharaj, senior, mechanical engineering; Leurin Estevez, senior, electronic design and multimedia. Mentor: Saheed Pirbaksh, robotics hobbyist.
Judges for the 2013 Kaylie Prize competition follow:
• Marc D. Mantell, partner, Edwards Wildman Palmer LLP
• Dr. Edward G. Cape, managing partner, The Sapphire Group LLC
• Stephen Newman, fellow, Human Interface Technology Lab (HITLab), New York
• Wayne A. Barlin, vice president and general counsel, Wallace H. Coulter Foundation
• Frank DeBernardis, co-founder, Nascent Enterprises LLC
• Alan Schwartz, executive vice president, mdiConsultants, Inc.
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