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Youth Suicide Prevention App is ‘Best in Show’ of UCF’s Largest-Ever Engineering and Computer Science Senior Design Showcase

By: Kimberly J. Lewis | April 28, 2021

A potentially life-saving mobile application for youth, designed by computer science students at the University of Central Florida, was awarded “Best in Show” by College of Engineering and Computer Science alumni who served as judges of the Spring 2021 Virtual Senior Design Showcase.

Nearly 900 graduating seniors in engineering and computer science spent the year collaborating in teams to create 171 capstone “Senior Design” projects showcased in video presentations. The virtual Spring 2021 Senior Design Virtual Showcase was a temporary online display of short video overviews of the projects submitted by each team.

The projects demonstrate students’ knowledge and application of engineering and advanced computing concepts, and provide solutions to real-world problems, many of which are industry-sponsored. Sponsors of Spring 2021 projects included Coca Cola, Lockheed Martin, Florida Power & Light, Aerion Supersonic, and more. Several other projects were sponsored by UCF faculty tasking students to innovate research or teaching solutions.

Graduating seniors Max Huebler, Mujahid Jaffer, Jody Kocis, Mary McIntosh and Ian Vickers worked their entire senior year on “SafeLINC: A Youth-Suicide Prevention App,” with guidance from project sponsor Pamela Wisniewski, Ph.D., associate professor of computer science. The application is an interactive and collaborative suicide prevention tool that youth can use in times of personal struggle.

“Suicide is the second-leading cause of death for people ages 10 to 24. SafeLINC enables youth to access a support network of people and resources from their smart phone,” Vickers says. “Everyone was incredibly capable and motivated. We all want to see this app in the hands of people it can really help.”

Faculty sponsor Pamela Wisniewski says the SafeLINC team’s passion and professionalism made them stand out among her many senior design students in the past five years.

“They knew they were doing important work in developing the first interactive and collaborative suicide prevention app for youth that engaged both parents and clinicians in the safety planning process. They took their job seriously and did an amazing job delivering an end product that contribute to the mental health and well-being of youth,” Wisniewski says. See the SafeLINC video here. (Editor’s note: this project was named SafePlan during the Senior Design showcase.)

“The team did a fabulous job translating a clinical safety plan to mHealth technology.  Their work will have a significant impact on advancing the mental health and suicide prevention field,” says Wisniewski’s research collaborator Kimberley Gryglewicz, Ph.D., associate professor, UCF School of Social Work.*

Volunteer alumni judges

While senior design is an academic requirement for graduation, the showcase included a competitive element, involving 150 UCF engineering and computer science alumni who served as volunteer judges for the showcase. They evaluated the projects by watching the videos and scoring methods based on a variety of metrics. They selected three finalists in each discipline and three interdisciplinary finalists.

Best In Show

SafeLINC (formerly SafePlan): A Youth Suicide-Prevention App; by computer science majors Max Huebler, Jody Kocis, Mary McIntosh, Mujahid Jaffner and Ian Vickers.

Best Interdisciplinary Project

Themed Entertainment Mechatronics; by mechanical engineering majors Michael Cesta, Sarah First, Megan Gelfo, Danielle Gonzalez, Victoria Guise; and computer science major Julia Warner.

Best in Computer Science

Training Reinforcement Learning Agents for Lockheed Martin’s “Everglades” Environment by Josh Gracie, John Lehett, Dave Mahoney, Joel Membribe and Tyler Sanders.

Best in Electrical and Computer Engineering

Smart Alert Environment Management System (SAEMS) by Daniel Mulvaney, Patrick Swain, Khenon Walker and Clayton White.

Best in Industrial Engineering and Management Systems

Advanced Wood Fabrication Cell Layout and Process Development for Load King by Majd Alhabs, Haitham El Aryan, Lianna Santiago Conty, Nicole Stanfill and Juan Zamorano.

Best in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Surveillance Unmanned Aerial Vehicle for AIAA Design Build Fly Competition by aerospace engineering majors David Silva-Melendez, Harshavardhan Bangaru, Jack Faysash, Dillon Graves, Mariangelo La Rosa, Kyle Ramos, Andrew Schroeder and Devin Unterreiner.

View/download a program of all Spring 2021 Senior Design project summaries.

Senior Design is a required capstone course for most graduating seniors of the UCF College of Engineering and Computer Science. The projects represent a significant portion of students’ grades and in many cases is the final step before graduation.

The showcase gives students a chance to present their projects to a general audience to show they are fully prepared for engineering and computing jobs. It’s also a way for employers to meet engineering and computer science graduates about to enter the workforce.

UCF Alumni Judges: A Record Number Volunteer to Help

Adding a friendly competitive element to the Senior Design showcase, UCF engineering and computer science alumni served as showcase judges. More than 150 alumni watched the videos and scored the projects on a variety of metrics, provided valuable feedback to the finalists in live Zoom sessions, and select the best project in each discipline and Best in Show.

Because of the virtual nature of the Spring 2021 showcase, more judges were able to participate compared to previous in-person showcases held on UCF’s main campus. The Spring 2021 alumni judges are professional engineers and computer scientists who are self-employed or work in companies of all sizes throughout the state, from across the nation, and even internationally.

* Research for SafeLINC was supported by a UCF College of Medicine Competitive Seed Grant awarded to Lindsay Taliaferro, Ph.D., Department of Population Health Sciences (Co-PIs: Pamela Wisniewski, Ph.D., Department of Computer Science and Kimberley Gryglewicz, Ph.D., School of Social Work).