ME student develops app for student collaborations

Classmate, LLC is building a mobile platform that can increase peer-to-peer interaction across entire universities.

John Riccione, a senior in Purdue University’s School of Mechanical Engineering, founded Classmate as a smartphone application allowing university students to meet, discuss and schedule study sessions. Riccione hopes the platform will transform universities into places where students welcome collaboration, rather than peer-to-peer competition.

“I believe students’ most important academic resource is their peers,” Riccione said. “Classmate is driven to break down barriers for college students when it comes to making friends and meeting classmates, and encourage a more collaborative environment.”

Classmate will market to university-age students as a free application, available on both Apple and Android smartphones. Riccione believes first-year college students, who might struggle to make connections, would benefit the most from this application.

“Freshman orientation events like Purdue’s Boiler Gold Rush would be an excellent venue to introduce the Classmate concept,” he said.

After downloading the application, students can set up a profile including their major, their picture and additional biographic information. Then, students will add themselves to their classes and immediately enter a group chat of their peers.

“One key aspect of the Classmate app is its virtual communication that does not require students to have each other’s contact information,” Riccione said. “Students will be able to communicate instantly, and they can also set up study or homework sessions in order to study collaboratively on difficult concepts.”

In spring 2018, Riccione hopes to begin Beta testing with one lecture-size course. Then, he will adjust the platform as needed before officially debuting Classmate.

“The beta phase will test Classmate under a manageable user size and reveal any issues,” Riccione said. “Then, I can work out any bugs with quick iterations and, plan to offer a commercial scale launch after the spring semester.”

Riccione said in the future he wants Classmate to expand to all major Midwestern universities and beyond. To accomplish this goal, Riccione is seeking passionate web developers for assistance in programming and in business competitions.

Classmate receives commercialization guidance from the Purdue Foundry, an entrepreneurship accelerator in Discovery Park's Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship. Riccione has attended both Firestarter and Introduction to Customer Discovery workshops for information on entrepreneurship.

Riccione said, “From the results of my research, I believe a collaborative engagement platform, like Classmate, will improve students’ academic results and interpersonal skills.”

Source: Purdue Newsroom