A SUNY Oswego student team of Alexis Indick, Anisha KC, Bharati Mahajan and Tonia Sanzo won Best User Interface at the WiCHacks competition earlier this year for their app “TRANSition,” which promotes inclusion and connectedness for the LGBTQ+ community.

WiCHacks is an all-female and non-binary 24-hour hackathon hosted by the Women in Computing organization at RIT. A hackathon is a collaborative programming event in which participants create an app, website, game or other piece of software over the course of the event. Three teams from SUNY Oswego, featuring members of the campus chapter of Women in Computing, participated in the competition, which ran Feb. 29 to March 1. 

The team initially considered a dating app for members of the LGBTQ+ community, but knew products catered to that market but not necessarily other needs of the community.

“We realized there aren’t any apps that are more focused on closeted/questioning people and a more platonic aspect,” said Mahajan, who is in the master’s in human-computer interaction graduate program.

“So, we wanted to create an app where people can explore and learn more about their gender identity and sexual orientation,” Mahajan added. “We believe that there’s nothing revolutionary about technology if it is only for a limited number of people. Some people might not be out to everyone, some simply might enjoy a degree of privacy on the internet.”

In producing the TRANSition app, the team members collaborated while dividing up tasks for the 24-hour sprint.

“I worked on idea formation, sketches, wire-framing, high fidelity prototypes, graphic design, and illustrations,” Mahajan said. 

KC worked on back-end development through Android Studios. “I implemented the onboarding, credentials and explore pages,” the computer science major noted. “I also helped with styling the buttons and backgrounds.”

“I helped out with the Android Studio work and with copywriting,” said Indick, who is a software engineering major.

“I helped in idea formation and user-testing,” added Sanzo, who is also a software engineering major.

The team’s win came from lessons learned from their Oswego classes, as well as picking a cause and identifying challenges where their product can make a difference. 

“The LGBTQ community has come a long way in a short amount of time, but there’s still plenty of opposition to face down, from common bullying to discrimination,” Mahajan said. “So we decided to work on this issue. We anticipated the user preferences and then created an interface that understands and fulfills those preferences like providing users with a platform where they can connect to their community.”

The team wanted to celebrate love and inspire solidarity, so they said they “used bright and happy colors, and our hand-drawn fun illustrations created a unique product personality and experience that set it apart from other applications available in the app store.” 

Top lessons learned included the importance of teamwork and creativity in problem solving. 

We discovered that working together created better results than working solo, especially when innovating new ways to use technology and protect it from potential vulnerabilities,” Mahajan said. “WiCHacks offered the chance for us to come together and learn from each other’s successes and failures. WiCHacks challenged us to exhibit our ability to innovate and create compelling, real-world solutions, utilizing the latest technology.”