At a Kansas City nonprofit, caregivers assemble binders for veterans that contain a slew of important documents that can be easily accessed if the veteran becomes ill or passes away.
But the veterans and caregivers can’t carry those physical binders everywhere.
“The biggest challenge for the binders is having the information with you when you need it,” said Shawn Moore, founder and executive director of Caregivers on the Homefront. “If there is a health crisis and the veteran or caregiver ends up in the hospital, the information needed may be in the binder but not on their person.”
So a team of Cal Poly engineering students has been working with Moore to develop an app – called ICEberg — that will replace those binders.
“The physical ‘In Case of Emergency’ (ICE) binder is composed of 41 pages, detailing important information about a veteran, such as doctor visits, medications, routine chores and bills, etc.,” said Tony Bone, one of four students working on the project. “The main purpose of our app is to provide a much more convenient user experience than a physical binder. The app also makes it less likely that the information will be lost and easier to update information.”
The project, developed in lecturer Rich Murray’s computer engineering capstone program including in-person lab time, is also part of the college’s TECHE lab, created to address and further real-world, systemic change. In addition to working on the app, the students – Bone, Sinjun Jang, Jose Ortega and Jake Park – created a 22-page design report detailing the client needs and their product.
“It’s probably one of the more refined presentations I’ve seen done coming out of capstone,” Murray said.
The team also regularly consulted remotely with Moore.
While the app prototype requires a lot of technical jargon, the team was able to explain what they were doing in an easy-to-understand manner.
“They learned how to translate their technical language and their technical solutions into customerspeak,” Murray said.
“Each time we met, I could tell they were passionate about producing a quality product,” Moore said. “They were very professional when speaking to other caregivers about how the app could help them.”
Initially, Bone admits, he tried to keep emotions out of the process.
“I just wanted to provide the app that we promised to our clients,” he said. “The more I worked on this, the harder it was for me to be ‘stone-faced’ about the app.”
Not only does the capstone prepare students for project deadlines and working with client expectations, it also allows them to work on projects that will have a positive impact.
The app, for example, will allow families of veterans to have quick access to important information.
“Also, it is a living, breathing document, easy to make changes when needed,” Moore said. “You can also ‘invite’ others to view the information, thus having a safety net in case the unthinkable happens. Wills, Veteran’s Affairs disability documents, life insurance, military documents – all at the touch of a button.”
The students have chosen to continue to work on the app as a senior project.
“To me, this is the most important project I have ever done,” Bone said.