Students at Meyzeek Middle School win national app design contest

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Six students from Meyzeek Middle School have been named Best in Nation winners in the fourth annual Verizon Innovative App Challenge for their mobile app concept, Pharm Alarm.

The app will help patients diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and their caregivers keep track of medications and contact information. 

Students on the winning team:

  • Simi Balasubramanian
  • Myuka Bhamidipadi
  • Francesca Campisano
  • Shreeya Julakanti
  • Mia Mercer
  • Elli Tilford

The last thing the six seventh-graders expected to walk into as they entered school Tuesday morning was a media frenzy.

But that's exactly what happened Tuesday morning when they found out they had won the "Verizon Innovative App Challenge."

The prize for the national app design contest includes a $20,000 grant and the chance to develop their app with experts from an MIT Media Lab.

"We just had to come together, we created something we thought could help so many people across the nation and world," said Shreeya Julakanti. 

The group created the "Pharm Alarm" app. 

It stores information about the user's medication, what time they should take it, and sets appointment times.

If the user does not confirm that they've taken the medicine, it will call contacts the user has provided.

It was inspired by one of the winners, Elli Tilford, whose grandfather suffered from dementia. 

"He would always have to remember to take his medication and make appointments and since we live in Kentucky and he lives in Pennsylvania we couldn't always check up on him, and so the app would have been a perfect solution," Tilford said. 

Although Tilford's grandfather passed away before she and her teammates could develop the app, she hopes it can help other families with loved ones in similar situations.

"This will pretty much erase that fear -- you'll always know if they took they're medication, if they went to their appointment, they won't have to worry about it anymore," Tilford said. 

All of the winners are happy because they have developed an app that helps people, but they hope it proves something else too.

"It shows girls can do just as much as anyone else," Julakanti said. 

Once complete, the team will own the full rights to their app, which becomes available for download in Google Play. In June, they will present their apps in person at the National TSA Conference in Nashville, courtesy of Verizon.

The Pharm Alarm team is one of eight national winning teams -- eight Best in Nation and one Fan Favorite Award winner -- from across the country (see the full list of winners here).

The Verizon Innovative App Challenge is a national no-coding-skills needed competition, created by the Verizon Foundation in partnership with the Technology Student Association, and presented in collaboration with MIT Media Lab, that challenges student teams across the country to come up with ideas for apps that could solve a problem in their schools or communities. 


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