Over 40 teams from four different universities are competing in this year’s third annual Autism App Jam, which culminates in a Final Judging and Public Viewing event on Friday, April 24 from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. in Chapman University’s Sandhu Conference Center.

According to the Autism App Jam website, it is a “two-week competition where teams use their creativity to develop an app that would benefit persons with Autism. The apps will be judged and the top teams will be awarded prizes and recognition.” This competition challenges participants to collaborate and develop functional apps to assist individuals on the autism spectrum and their families.

If the 2014 event is any indication, creativity and innovation are to be expected to be on display at this year’s showcase event on April 24th. Smart Dresser, one of the winning apps at last year’s event, helped young women choose clothes depending on social norms and weather algorithms. Another 2014 winning app, FAST, allowed parents to consolidate information (like progress reports) and better understand special education jargon.

Dr. Erik Linstead, Program Director of Computer Science Undergraduate Programs, is the lead facilitator of the Autism App Jam and founder of Chapman’s Machine Learning and Assistive Technology (MLAT) Lab. He says the event benefits everyone involved.

“The Autism App Jam is a great way for students to exercise their computer science muscles while at the same time, creating something that is aimed at making the lives of those on the autism spectrum and their loved ones better,” Linstead says.

However, the positivity of the competition does not detract from its competitiveness.

Student teams from UCLA, UC Irvine, Saddleback College and Chapman University will all vie for the top prizes and awards. Judges will assign first ($1024), second ($512) and third ($256) place based on relevance to Autism Spectrum disorder, uniqueness, creativity and presentation. Other honors such as “People’s Choice” and “Hype Award” will receive lunch at Google and ‘Geeky Swag Bags’ respectively.

The organizers expressed special thanks to Microsemi, who is a major sponsor of the event and has continued to be a partner and supporter of Chapman University and its Computational Science programs.

For more information about the Autism App Jam, click here.

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