Our journey started early in the year, where we had a thought: how do we help all the people around us that are stressed out about classes, work, and everything else. We came up with the idea to build an app that our friends could take anywhere they went that would be able to help them recognize and manage symptoms of stress; and so Stress Repellent was born.
Our first task was to assemble a team capable of building such an app. I, Austin Lane, was the team leader tasked with finding team members. I recruited Brian Pigford and Daniel Stahl to help me with the programming since that would encompass the majority of our team’s work. Next I recruited Jacob McCoy, a psychology major, because we needed someone to tell us how stress impacts people and how we can design an app that could help users. Next, I recruited Alyssa Drohan to manage our servers. Finally, we needed a member with no coding experience and no knowledge of psychology that could represent the users on our team; and so I recruited Sean Alberts from the physics department.
Our first big challenge was The Pitch in October. We shared our idea for the first time to a panel of alumni judges in hopes of getting $300 to fund our project. In the end we received our money, but with conditions. The judges expressed some concern of the scale of our app and our experience. They suggested that we shrink the targeted audience of our app to focus more on college age people and also consult the counseling department here at Bridgewater to see how they help people with stress. The team met and made these changes and full development began.
The next big challenge we faced came a few weeks later. During our early research we were attempting to identify open source tool we could use to process the text users enter to streamline our design process. While we found some options, we were unable to find one that suited our needs. This meant that we had to change our plans, and divert effort into building our own natural language processing tools. This, being such a complex task, was no easy feat and all programmers had to contribute to the programming of this system.
Our next major challenge came after the Winter Rally. One of our team members resigned and caused us to revisit our overall plan. We had planned on using servers to store user data from our app and monitor the app’s performance. Unfortunately, at this point we did not have enough people to build the app and manage the servers. After holding a meeting, we decided to remove the server requirement from our project in its entirety and come up with a way to run the app using only the phone. While this did cause our development to slow down, we were able to store all necessary data on the phone and build a working app.
Now, at the end of this long development process, we have a finished product. Today Stress Repellent is live on the Google Play Store for anyone to download for free. We feel that this process, including all the challenges and changes that happened along the way, has led us to make a better app. Success is not defined by how many challenges you faced in the pursuit of a goal, it is defined by how you overcome those challenges. We believe we have overcome all the challenges that have come our way.