Congratulations to Step Test and Ballot Ready!

This could be you in 2018. Enter now!


After a full year of submissions (75 in total) and a full year of projects with our four finalists (Step TestBallot Ready, EngAGE, and Triple), we held our 2017 Showdown at Polsky’s New Venture Challenge, closing out UChicago’s Innovation Fest.  Our four finalists presented to our judges (Erik Giles, IT Services, Will Engler, UrbanCCD, Kalpana Punukollu, AbbVie Pharmaceuticals) and our judges selected a first place and runner up winner.

Dan Rubin, MD: Step Test (Grand Prize)

Congratulations to Dan Rubin, MD and Rebecca Gerlach, MD, for winning the $7000 grand prize! Their iOS app,

Step Test, helps evaluate the fitness of pre-surgery patients with the data already on their phone. Dan will test the efficacy of his app in an IRB-approved study later in 2017.  

Read all about Step Test.

Ballot Ready: Machine Learning Pilot (Runner up)

Congratulations to the Ballot Ready (Alex Niemczewski, Aviva Rosman, Sebastian Ellefson) for winning the $3000 runner-up prize!

IT Services and IBM worked with Ballot Ready to apply IBM’s BlueMix Technology and other tools to their manual workflow for gathering high-quality content for voter education. The goals were to systematically help with categorizing candidate stances (e.g. Education, Environment) and to figure out if a given webpage contains meaningful candidate stances or endorsements.

Read all about Ballot Ready.


EngAGE team

We worked with the EngAGE team (Megan Huisingh-Scheetz, Louise Hawkley, Roscoe Nicholson, and Pete Wendel) to develop a simple proof-of-concept for a voice-enabled version of EngAGE for the Amazon Echo.

Read all about EngAGE.


Chris HeinrichWe collaborated with the Triple Team (Chris Heinrich and Alex Edelman) to build an Android counterpart of the current Triple iOS app, doubling the audience for the Triple team. While this includes typical Android programming practices, we’ve also had to understand and use Unity, the standard for game creation.

Alex and Chris presented the Triple work at a May 2017 meeting of Asychronous Anonymous, an initiative to foster learning and collaborative opportunities in tech at UChicago. For more information, visit

Read all about Triple.


You can do this too, four times a year.

Have you experienced an unmet need or opportunity in your everyday life (at work, in your research, at home or elsewhere)? Are you working on a research project that might benefit from an app, a website, or cognitive computing? Are you already working on an idea with UChicago (e.g. I-Corps, BIG, ITM) and want to build some part of it? Not sure?

The UChicago App Challenge helps you translate that idea or observation into a mobile app, great website, or something else (surprise us)! Students, faculty, staff, alums and Polsky members can submit their ideas year round. We’ve got 100 hours of programming time to build your idea.

Almost all of our semi-finalists and finalists have had no technical background.  That's what we're here for.  See what they ended up creating.