August 22, 2019

Cohort 3 is Prepping for Demo Day




Ceres Greens

The Ceres Greens team, made up of Connor Greenbaum, Connor McGinnis, Adam Shappy and Nickolas Castle, has partnered with Ceres Greens, an indoor facility dedicated to growing leafy greens all year long with minimal impact to the environment. With numerous plants growing at the same time, Ceres Greens has implemented sensors that are able to identify water levels, humidity and other growth variables in each crop. Their current sensor dashboard worked great in the facility, but the company wanted a system that could allow access to data from the sensors to remote devices, so that the growers could check in on the levels when off site. The company also wanted the system to store historical data, so they could look back and see what variables produced certain crop outcomes.

To learn more about the company and their requests, the team booked a video conference with Greg Kelly, CTO of Ceres Greens and even travelled to Barre, VT to tour the facility itself. “We spoke with Greg about what he had in place and what he wanted to get into place, so we got an idea of what was possible” Greenbaum recalled, when explaining how the team started planning their designs. Not only did the students work with Ceres Greens, they also teamed up with a company in Belgium, OpenMotics that creates the hardware that records the plant data, who provided the necessary information to get into their system. The team built a new database through Influx for the collection of all the Ceres Greens data, changing the data flow to travel from Ceres Greens, to Belgium, to the Influx database to the growers. From there, a web page, accessible by desktop or mobile, was created to house all the data and provide a stylish and intuitive dashboard for the growers to access data from. “We knew we had to have a one page, flat layout” according to the client wishes, said Greenbaum.

Designed from sketches created by Adam Shappy, the group was able to move on from “back-end” programming to “front-end”, using CSS and HTML, where the client would be looking and operating. React and JavaScript played a large role in the development of this project. “Half of the project is front end but the other half of the project is essentially being able to log-in in some facet to existing systems and have those systems all talk to each other” mentioned Greenbaum. Greg Kelly, Ceres Green CTO, raved about the student’s work, saying, “The students that chose our project are a very smart, talented group! They took on the project with only minimal definition and quickly grasped the essence of what needed to be developed.”


Gabe Nelson, Django Koenig, Chris Wissell, Aaron Lavery

The HOPE Works VT coding team, consisting of Gabe Nelson, Django Koenig, Chris Wissell and Aaron Lavery, had the opportunity to work with an organization that really meant something to them, HOPE Works VT. HOPE Works is an organization serving Chittenden County, VT that is dedicated to haulting any and all forms of sexual violence. They provide numerous services to those affected by sexual violence including crisis counseling, advocacy, guidance on what do to after an incident, community resource outreach, support groups and more.

The student team met with HOPE Works representatives to discuss the organization’s needs and were introduced to the internal and confidential forms employees fill out when they receive a report of sexual violence. These reports include the location, how many perpetrators, what act was committed and more. It was HOPE Works’ goal to have a digital form created for employees to fill out, so that all forms were saved in the same database, as opposed to recorded on a hard copy of the form and transferred into a digital database manually on one single computer. The form has to run from the browser to the server, Express, then to Middlewear and finally to the online database, MongoDB. The point of a digital form and database is to streamline the recording system and allow for remote form submissions.  

With such sensitive material, it was critical that the team ensured the security of these digital forms, group member Gabe Nelson saying, “that was one of their prime concerns and it’s something that we’re still working on… everything is going to be behind account usernames and passwords” and have even considered adding a double authentication feature. The group, working with “dummy data”, has been working hard with instructor Josh Burke to learn security measures within their code and database.

Javascript, HTML, CCS, Express, MongoDB and React were all used in the making of this project. Besides learning new technologies, the group also learned how to work side by side with a client. “We’re getting some good experiences with real life clients who have different ideas. Things come up and you kind of have to just roll with it,” Django Koenig remarked.

You Need A Budget (YNAB)

You Need a Budget or YNAB is a short-term budgeting system that helps you manage your money. The organization operates on a desktop and mobile app. YNAB has 4 rules: “give every dollar a job, embrace your true expenses, roll with the punches, and age your money.”

The mobile app, which hopes to be successfully voice activated, allows users to ask their device how much money is in their account, what their budget for groceries is and more. The issue is that the app is currently experiencing complications through Google Assistant and Siri; that’s where the YNAB coding team comes in. The group has been working through YNAB’s API (application program interface) and through the servers of each voice activation system. Building the system so that it matches up with Amazon’s Alexa, which has been successfully operating with YNAB, the group was able to customize the voice activation responses to sound similar and use the same phrasing so the app is easily navigable on all devices. Team Three has been working with Google Assistant and Google Actions, setting up command words through Dialogflow which are sent to Firebase, where the group’s code is stored. A user speaking to the app starts an action through YNAB’s API, such as asking the app to tell you an account balance. Along with their class curriculum, the group also taught themselves Google Assistant, Google Actions, Dialogflow, YNAB’s API and Firebase.

The group has learned a whole new skill set through this project to impress employers after they leave Burlington Code Academy, Marshall Estlund proclaiming, “I feel comfortable implementing Google Actions, so if someone wanted to add voice functionality to their app I could do it!”

A Cohort to Remember

The work BCA Web Development Bootcamp students have done this cohort has been nothing less than incredible. They have worked hard and are ready to show the community what they have accomplished.

We encourage anyone interested to come to Demo Day hosted at the Vermont Center for Emerging Technologies on August 22, 2019 to view the final presentations of these projects, network, recruit and celebrate.

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