Session Details

Facing your fears: Is a mobile app challenge right for you?

#AIM3 Applications, Integration and Mobile Track

Room 101F


Are you tempted, curious, vexed or downright afraid of holding an app challenge?  If so, join us for a candid discussion of the pros and cons of holding one on your campus.  

Apps are everywhere. With more than 750,000 in the app store alone, it's clear this isn’t a passing fad. In response to the current trend, many universities are holding app development contests to engage students, inspire creativity and, in some cases, augment the development of campus resources.

But for many more the question remains:

  • Will an app contest add value for my school? 
  • And even if it does, how hard is it to implement? 

The University of Chicago has held two app challenges in the past nine months. Unlike many contests, both were open to students, staff and faculty and did not require programming expertise. Our most recent challenge was a partnership between the IT Services organization, UChicago Tech (tech transfer) and the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship, and was divided into 3 phases: ideation, prototyping, and development. Phase one resulted in 113 entries from students, faculty and staff, with app ideas in healthcare, education, law enforcement, and utilities, among others.

The app challenge has allowed us to:

  • Develop and grow relationships across campus with new and existing partners 
  • Develop a project framework that can be extended to other, high-stakes projects 
  • Cultivate new app and mobile development channels that will benefit IT Services beyond the app challenge 
  • Enhance the image of the IT organization as a trusted partner and resource


Cornelia Bailey
Strategic Innovation Consultant, University of Chicago, IT Services

As an Strategic Innovation Consultant for University of Chicago's IT Services (, Cornelia Bailey helps navigate projects in which the outcome is not always well known. This requires her to observe how students, faculty and staff behave and to discern what they want. Much of Bailey's current work focuses on mobile concerns.

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