Data science students take honors with 'Phoodie' app

Members of Mercyhurst University’s newly formed Data Science Club created a food delivery app called “Phoodie” to snag second place in this year’s uber competitive Hyland Hackathon held in Westlake, Ohio, Dec. 15-17.

The app, created by Heidi Beezub, Tiffany Gonzalez, Ron Richardson and Kimberly Staudt, is based on the swipe feature of the mega-dating app, Tinder. According to the team's description: "Phoodie connects eaters to eats. Users can swipe though the app and actually see what is available. For a nominal delivery fee, dinner is delivered. Our application acts as the middleman. Restaurants post offerings by supplying a picture and short description. Phoodie connects the food vender to the consumer. The order is placed and the delivery is coordinated through postmates or uber for pickup at the restaurant and delivery to the consumer." Check it out here.

Mercyhurst also sent another team to the hackathon: Yang Lorenzana, Nemanja Matijevic, Pavel Nayda and Jerrin Varghese.

“Both teams competed hard to solve a very challenging computer programming problem with little or no sleep,” said Dr. Afzal Upal, chair of the data science department, who also credited club advisor Dr. Stephen Ousley. “Please join me in congratulating all the students who took time out of their busy schedules to take part in this grueling 48-hour-long exercise. We’re so proud of you.”

A total of 78 participants, including high school and college-level students, competed in the third annual event at Hyland Software’s headquarters.

The Mercyhurst team finished on the heels of first-place Tiffin University, which combined forces with Olmsted Falls and Brunswick high schools. Their project involved a website "that aids in the flow of class discussions and relieves the stress and anxiety that goes along with speaking aloud in front of peers," according to Cleveland news reports.

Besides Tiffin and Mercyhurst, other colleges that sent teams include the University of Akron, Kent State, Cleveland State, Ohio State, Bowling Green, University of Toledo, Stark State, Miami of Ohio, University of Cincinnati and Case Western University.