The pandemic changed summer internship and job plans for many college students, among them Keegan Briskey, a junior majoring in informatics at the IU School of Informatics and Computing at IUPUI. The Techpoint S.O.S. (Summer Opportunity for Students) Challenge was created to support over 500 students across Indiana in summer 2020 and was continued this year. Techpoint S.O.S. 2021 consisted of a six-week project where students were coached by industry professionals and worked together in interdisciplinary teams to complete a task in one of five categories: healthcare, sports and entertainment, education, Indiana agriculture, and sustainability.
A total of eleven students from the School of Informatics and Computing took part this year; last year, HCI graduate student Ravi Teja Jorigay was part of a winning team that developed the NoQ app that streamlines the onboarding process for the air travel industry. This year, Lou Lenzi, a Professor of Practice at the School of Informatics and Computing at IUPUI and Jonathan Huer, EdD, Chief Learning Officer at Eleven Fifty Academy, developed and facilitated the business and technical curriculum respectively alongside the team at Elevate Ventures.
Briskey got involved in the challenge when he realized he needed a new experience and wasn’t able to get a traditional internship. His group comprised of five students from different universities worked to integrate blockchain into the healthcare system. They designed their winning iOS application called “UnID” that transferred sharing controls for medical data to the user. Briskey explained that this approach is a contrast to the current system where healthcare institutions store and manage the data, including vaccination records, procedure results, and so on. The group took their cue from leading companies that are shifting the right of data privacy to users, ie, patients, to create something that felt natural for a new generation of healthcare technologies.
Briskey reached out to two of his informatics professors, Fawzi BenMessaoud and Travis Faas, to ask questions as the group was researching blockchain and deciding on deliverables. He also found core programming concepts from his classes were helpful to working with Swift programming language. Noting that he had never coded in that language before, he decided to take on learning and implementing it as a personal challenge.
He highly encourages others to consider the Tech S.O.S. Challenge if it is offered again. “The people you will interact with at TechPoint are fantastic, inspiring, and professional—shoutout to Joe Perin and Moe (Maurice) Simmons at TechPoint. The wonderful team at TechPoint will help you learn how to be more independent and encourage you to improve your skillset with a direct application to something in-industry,” Briskey said.
Briskey chose to study at the School of Informatics and Computing because of his love for computers, people, and creating special connections between them. “I knew I was ready for something more technical after high school and wanted to learn more about how I could strengthen my programming skills so that I could pursue a software development career,” he said. After graduation in December 2022, Briskey hopes either to work as a software developer for companies involved in self-driving operations using machine learning and data science or as a database engineer.