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A world of experience on the international stage

[Team Walkly]
Team Walkly – Julie Lycklama (Cmp’17), Riley Karson, (Cmp’17), Christopher Thomas (Cmp’17) and Anastasiya Tarnouskaya (Cmp’17) – recently competed in the world final of the Microsoft Imagine Cup. (University Communications)

While they didn’t win the Microsoft Imagine Cup, Team Walkly is returning to Queen’s University having gained valuable experience that will help them reach the next level.

The Canadian representatives at the prestigious international event –  Riley Karson, (Cmp’17), Julie Lycklama (Cmp’17), Anastasiya Tarnouskaya (Cmp’17) and Christopher Thomas (Cmp’17) – created the Walkly app with the aim of providing a safer walking experience for everyone, anywhere, anytime by combining the power of social media and smartphone technology.

Winners or not, Ms. Tarnouskaya says the team had a “fantastic experience” in Seattle and benefited greatly by meeting their peers from around the world and learning from their projects and ideas at the Imagine Cup, an international technology competition that provides teams of students from various areas of study the opportunity to use their creativity to change the way we live, work and play.

Among the key things the foursome learned through the process – having competed at the regional and national levels before making it to the worlds – were being able to adapt to the changing environment quickly, working as a team and being able to handle increasing levels of pressure.

“One of the most important things was learning quickly. We had to learn everything quickly because it was the first competition we had done – from development to just being able to work with each other,” Ms. Tarnouskaya says. “So I think teamwork was a very important aspect of our learning experience because we had to rely on each other. Also being able to deal with deadlines and work under pressure. We wanted to do a good job and make Canada proud.”

With the app, the user chooses a destination through a mapping feature and an estimated time of arrival. The app then tracks the user and lets the user’s trusted network see if they are safely on their way. If the user doesn't get to their destination by the set time, the network is notified and can take action, such as a phone call. If a user arrives on time, the app’s automatic check-in feature will notify the network.

In the finals, the team had to make a 10-minute presentation before the judges as well as a large crowd. The event was livestreamed worldwide.

Ms. Tarnouskaya says that while the team was satisfied with their presentation, a number of others had already brought their product to market, giving them a key advantage when it came to some of the scoring such as usability.

Getting Walkly in app stores for Android and iOS platforms and raising awareness is the next step but the team is also looking to get more Queen’s students competing in similar events.

“Honestly, these competitions are so incredible, they are so much fun and a fantastic learning experience. We really want to inspire other students to get involved in these competitions because Queen’s has so much talent and we want people to be able to use that talent and do great things and get recognized for their capabilities on a world scale,” Ms. Tarnouskaya says, adding that the team is hoping to run presentation workshops based on their experiences.