CLC Students Gain National Recognition For Veteran-Helping App
A group of students at Central Lakes College is heading to the nation’s capital to present their project that hopes to help veterans cope with stress. For the Community College Innovation Challenge, they created an app called “Supporting Our Servicemembers” that can connect veterans with trusted friends and family members with the touch of a button.
“You can set up emergency contacts, so, say you’re in a dire need of assistance – you’re going to have that immediate contact group that when you hit the button, it will contact those people,” says Patrick Hoffman, a CLC student.
The group, comprised of people with various web development skill levels, will head to Washington in June to present their app to members of Congress.
“Those that are new to the mobile app development program, they are testing the graphical user interface,” says CLC instructor Sam Espana, who leads the team. “We have veterans on the team, we have active military members, so they have different roles. So even though they may not be experts in programming, they can still help behind the scenes.”
“It’s good to be part of a team; it’s not just one person, everyone is involved,” says Jeff Roxberg, a CLC student and veteran. “That’s helpful, I think.”
The team has four active or former members of the military, making it a personal project for many of them.
“I personally lost a friend when I was in a unit in Thief River Falls to suicide,” says Rick Vinge, a CLC student and U.S. National Guard member. “I know when we first heard the news it was pretty much groupthink of what could we have done. Nobody knew that he was even thinking about things like that. The stories like that are all over the place.”
The group says that while the while the competition and national recognition is nice, if the app can help just one person, it’ll all be worth it.
“It’s nice that we’re able to get them the resources that they need, and get them the help that they require,” says Roxberg. “It’s just one more pillar of the building.”
Before presenting to members of Congress, the team will attend an Innovation Boot Camp in Virginia.
You can learn more about the contest at https://nsf.gov/news/special_reports/communitycollege/ccic-results.jsp