Grand Challengs Creates Opportunites for Impact

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Four second-year students participated in a "codeathon" which challenged participants to create an application that would use Jawbone’s UP wristband to reduce stress.

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  • GC Codeathon GC Codeathon

Four second-year students from the Grand Challenges Living and Learning Community took grand prize honors at a “codeathon” in New York, N.Y.

The competition, which was sponsored by the Clinton Foundation’s Clinton Health Matters Initiative, Jawbone, and Tumblr, challenged participants to create an application that would use Jawbone’s UP wristband to reduce stress. The “GTBuzz” team was prepared for this challenge through experience in the Grand Challenges Living Learning Community, where they are working on a project focused on preventing childhood obesity.

The team’s application, Buzz, connects to a user’s Google calendar and allows the user to prioritize their own stress levels related to events such as “tests” or “meetings.” The UP wristband then collects data on the user’s sleep patterns and movement throughout the day. Buzz then assigns a daily “stress score” based on the health data collected during designated time periods and the number and level of stressful items on the user’s calendar. The user can use their stress score to monitor their daily stress levels and practice stress-reducing techniques accordingly.

GTBuzz team members attributed their success to the problem identification and solution development skills that they learned in Grand Challenges and the cross-disciplinary nature of their team.

“All of the other teams were made up of computer science professionals,” said Patrick Kelly, a second-year business administration major and member of GTBuzz. “We were the only team of students and the only team that had members from different backgrounds. We were successful because we were each able to think about the challenge differently and could offer different opinions about how to design our solution.”

Both the Clinton Foundation and Jawbone have expressed interest in continuing to work with the team to develop Buzz at another competition in January 2014, in addition to supporting the team as it continues work on other Grand Challenges projects.

A part of the Office of Leadership, Development and Education and in partnership with the College of Engineering, the Grand Challenges program is a living learning community that began last fall and is open to incoming freshmen of all majors. It tasks participants with finding solutions to worldwide issues related to food, water, energy and health and teaches students a curriculum centered around problem solving and effective teamwork.

GTBuzz is just one example of the many Grand Challenges teams that are already making a significant impact in their chosen areas of study. Other teams have gone on to win prizes at case competitions and to present at conferences all over the country.

For more information about the Grand Challenges Living and Learning Community, visit the program’s website at

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Clinton Health Matters Initiative Codeathon Series, grand challenges
  • Created By: Alison Hemmelgarn
  • Workflow Status: Published
  • Created On: Jul 31, 2014 - 5:35am
  • Last Updated: Oct 7, 2016 - 11:16pm