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Make School Students are Building Software to Drive Progress


Make School Students are Building Software to Drive Progress

April 26, 2016

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At Make School, the educational experience is driven by one commandment — to design and ship products that can make the world a better place. In the last three months, the students in our two-year Product Academy have been collaborating on projects that do just that. And this Thursday at 6pm, during the Make School Demo Night & Intern Fair, our students will present the work they’ve been doing. The five products highlight the different tastes, sensibilities, and backgrounds of their creators — ultimately, though, the products all contain a thread of civic responsibility. Here’s a sneak preview of this semester’s projects.

ConnectALL Initiative

The ConnectALL Initiative is a curated online repository of Internet/computer skill tutorials created by “tech helpers” nationwide. As part of The White House’s national ConnectALL initiative, the site addresses the digital divide and teaches the basic skills needed to get people online and experiencing the full potential of the Internet. ConnectALL team members Mike Kane, Josh Archer, Leslie Kim, and Connor Maher are incredibly honored to be working on a project that will help a large number of underserved individuals gain leverage in the technological age. They’re utilizing Ruby on Rails, JavaScript, HTML, and CSS for the project. The team is also working with social services agency St. Anthony’s and the SF Public Library to ensure that the end result is an experience that is useful for underserved communities.


xBAND is a hardware solution providing text messages, voice, and textual Internet capabilities using low cost, long range mesh radio technology. Tiny xBAND hardware modules attach to mobile devices and the access point provides Internet connectivity and coordinates mesh communications with mobile modules. Hardware modules cost $5 or less, making xBAND ideal for people in rural areas and developing countries with limited digital infrastructure. Team members Jacob Lichtstrahl and Kevin Caldwell came up with the project while contemplating the viability of making their own phones. Through their brainstorming, they eventually hit on the idea of creating a product to help connect people who have limited access to the internet. The two have been working alongside fellow students Dennis Aleynikov, Kazuhiro Komoto, and Fero Hetes — and have tackled some unique hardware challenges. On the hardware-side, the project utilizes the Raspberry Pi, Arduino Mega, a 900MHz radio transceiver. On the software-side, the team is working with Python, Android/Java, and React-Native.


PyVenom is a Python web server framework that simplifies development on Google App Engine. Venom is a visual development tool built on top of PyVenom that makes highly scalable API server development quicker and easier. The idea for this project came from Hunter Larco, who “wanted to build PyVenom in order to remove common development burdens between projects and provide a way to more rapidly develop server architecture.” The team consists of Larco and fellow students Jeroen Ransijn, and Jimmy Yue. The project utilizes an ambitious breadth and depth of technologies — including Python, Electron, JavaScript/ES6, HTML, CSS, the Google App Engine, and BigTable NDB.

Give With Us

Give With Us is a platform for people to make a big difference with small donations. Users can donate to a cause they care about either one time or recurring monthly, and receive updates on how their contributions are making a difference. The inspiration for Give With Us comes from team member Tyler Hoffman, who developed the idea at Make School’s annual hackathon, Make Hacks. After being asked for a large charitable donation he wasn’t able to fulfill, Hoffman realized it would be easier to get people to donate small amounts regularly, rather than one big amount at one time — and thus Give With Us was born. Hoffman enlisted the expertise of fellow students Unathi Chonco, Adrian Wisaksana, and Kavin Subramanyam to help make his idea a reality. The charity platform utilizes Ruby on Rails, JavaScript, HTML, CSS, and Braintree.


FoundVisa is TurboTax for the O-1 visa: An online platform that automates and digitizes the visa application to make the process simpler and less expensive. FoundVisa is the brainchild of Ryan Kim, who himself has had to navigate the complexities (and the exorbitant prices) of the visa and immigration process in the United States. Kim realized there was a great opportunity to create a tool to help bring relief to other overwhelmed filers. So he, along with team member Eliel Gordon, used iOS/Swift, Ruby on Rails, AngularJS, JavaScript, HTML, and CSS to create a robust platform for O-1 visa filing.

We’re incredibly proud of the hard work, dedication, and collaborative effort all these teams have displayed and are very excited to showcase their work. Come watch our students demo these impressive products at Demo Night on Thursday, April 28th! You can RSVP here.

And if you’re interested in solving complex problems through technology, apply now to become a Make School Student!

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