Two ANU PhD students have won an IT award for creating a web-based application in just 32 hours, aimed at helping foreign students pronounce English words.
Richa Awasthy and Sara Salem Hamouda, from the College of Engineering and Computer Sciences, took part in the 2014 Hackathon ACT (or HACT) computing competition in late November.
The pair and computer designer Greg Cassagne won the CBR Innovation Prize for most impactful idea, along with $1,000 cash, for impressing the judges with their Elocution Lab app.
“The three of us in the team, we are all non-native English speakers. So we understand the difficulties of learning to talk in a second language,” said first year PhD student Sara, who has specialised in high-performance computing.
“So Greg’s idea was that we needed an application to help non-English speakers improve their pronunciation.”
Teams had 32 hours to design, program and launch a new product or service from idea through to the delivery of the product or service.
Richa, a first year PhD student studying Software Engineering in Computer Science, said the competition gave her the chance to create a product by doing what she loves.
“The main idea was that we have a lot of English tutorials and people do them in classrooms, but we wanted to take the app to the hands of the people, giving them the flexibility of practicing their words whenever they want – whether they are travelling or are at home,” she said.
The two students say they will look at full development of the prototype, including commercialising the app and making it available on smart phone devices, when they conclude their PhD studies.
They have also started preparing a list of non-English speaking people who could be early users of the app in the trial stage.