Last winter break, Phani Gaddipati, a junior studying biomedical engineering, decided to make good use of his time by teaching himself how to build computer apps.
Soon after, he stumbled across the Google AdMob Student App Challenge and decided to enter. The challenge: to build an app that uses Google’s mobile ad platform AdMob, which allows developers to earn from their app, promote it, and analyze its performance. Applicants from more than 90 countries submitted hundreds of apps.
To his surprise, Gaddipati won top prize for his invention, Stacks Flashcards, which allows users to create virtual flashcards. When the biomedical engineering major got word of his win, he says, “I couldn’t really believe it so I kept rereading the email.”
Stacks Flashcards is the first app Gaddipati has developed. “I had a lot of stuff to memorize in classes so I chose a flashcards app because I didn’t see anything exciting that I liked,” he says. “Most existing ones are pretty old and haven’t been updated so they don’t work all that well.” Plus, he says with a laugh, “some are really ugly.”
Quizlet, a huge flashcards website, for instance, has an app but users can only view it. Stacks Flashcards, by contrast, lets users create and edit flashcards and then test themselves. The app took a few months for Gaddipati to build and refine.
Gaddipati’s prizes included his app being featured on the Google Play Store (where increased downloads may indirectly boost ad clicks, earning him money); a Google Nexus 7; and a seven-night trip to San Francisco, including a visit to Google headquarters.