NMT Undergrads Win $25K For Creating Android App
PUEBLA, Mexico – Five undergraduate students from New Mexico Tech participated in an international competition in Puebla, Mexico, titled, “Creatón 2017.” The NMT team won first place for creating an Android app designed to increase public engagement in local government polling and voting. They won $25,000 for their efforts.
The winning team:
- Miguel Angel Luna, Chemical Engineering
- Matthew Davenport, Chemical Engineering
- Veronica Espinoza, Chemical Engineering
- Eric Galindo, Materials Engineering
- Maria Fernanda Ruiz Maya, Mechanical Engineering
The Creatón is a collegiate-level design competition that includes 30 continuous hours with the output being a proposed public engagement tool. This competition is designed to have college students come up with novel approaches to government transparency, good government practices and public involvement. The State Auditor of Puebla, the Autonomous University of Puebla and Inteligencia Pública sponsored the event. Nine universities, with a total of 27 teams, participated Creatón. Puebla is about one hour southeast of Mexico City.
New Mexico Tech was the first university from outside of Mexico invited to participate. The NMT team chose the category of public engagement and designed an app for use on an Android device. For more about the competition, visit http://www.creatonpuebla.mx.
A major problem both in Mexico as a whole and for the citizens of the State of Puebla, is that they do not have access to information about legislation before it becomes law. Furthermore, citizens have limited means to express their opinions to elected officials.
During the workshop, the NMT team developed a prototype Android app with the purpose of increasing public participation in government. For the sake of the competition, the app was focused on the State of Puebla. The app’s purpose is to serve as a tool for the citizens of Puebla to have more easy and free access to their elected officials and bills about to be voted on both locally and nationally. The team named their Android app VozPuebla and designed a logo inspired by the blue and white colors of authentic talavera pottery native to Puebla.
The app will allow registered voters to vote in favor or against pieces of legislation and see statistics of how others have voted. A powerful part of this app is that the data collected from citizens will be sent directly to their elected officials. Lawmakers will know if the majority of the citizens of Puebla agree or disagree with a proposed law, and can tune their vote accordingly.
The app also has a feature that allows citizens to see a picture of their representatives and access their email and social media information. In order to register for the Android app, a citizen has to enter their INE (Instituto Nacional Electoral) ID information, which states that they are over 18 years old and are eligible to vote. This document also grants important information about the district in which this person is registered to vote.