UC Merced's 5th Annual Mobile App Challenge

Develop innovative mobile applications for today’s most pressing societal needs.
Win cash prizes, network, and build your skillset, all while changing the world for the better.


The Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society (CITRIS) creates information technology solutions for many of our most pressing social, environmental, and health care problems. To promote innovation, community service, and career development among University of California students, CITRIS hosts a semester-long competition for the best mobile apps that address identified societal needs.

This challenge encourages teams of students from UC Berkeley, UC Davis & UC Merced to develop innovative mobile applications for today’s most pressing societal needs. Through a rigorous 3-month process, students design, prototype and pitch their ideas. The challenge culminates in a selection process with prizes, along with a poster day to showcase the students' projects.

Innovate to Grow

Mobile App Challenge finals coincide with UC Merced's Innovate 2 Grow finals on Friday, May 13th!
Register here: https://securelb.imodules.com/s/1650/index.aspx?sid=1650&gid=1&pgid=1303

If you'd like to make a donation:

Important Dates

Mobile App Challenge Kickoff Session

We will be hosting an info session to show potential participants what's in store for this year's Mobile App Challenge.

January 21, 6:00pm in SSB 160

Social Mixer

Get together with other students interested in the Mobile App Challenge to discuss ideas and talk about what others will be working on.

January 28, 6:00pm in SSB 160

Question and Answer Session

We will be answering any questions students have and discussing what participants should expect from this year's Mobile App Challenge.

February 4, 6:00pm in SSB 160

Team Formation

Team applications are due on the 8th of February. Once you have a team in mind, click here to apply. Only one team member needs to apply.

February 8

Workshop 1: Introduction to App Development

We will be having six informative workshops this year, the first of which will be an introduction to Mobile App Development.

February 18, 6:00-9:00pm in SSB 160

Workshop 2: Point to Market

The details of our second workshop have not yet been finalized.

March 2nd, 6:00pm in SSB 120

Speaker: James Kuffner from Toyota Research Insitute

James Kuffner, a research scientist in robotics and cloud computing at the newly formed Toyota Research Institute, will be presenting a talk.

RSVP March 4, 12:00-1:00pm in SSB 120

Speaker: Dale Dougherty - Founder & Executive Chairman of Maker Magazine Inc.

Dale Dougherty is the Founder and Executive Chariman of Make Magazine

RSVP March 11, 12:00-1:00pm in SSM 104

Workshop 3: UI/UX

This workshop will go over how to create good, engaging user experience in an app.

March 16th, 5:00pm in SSB 120

Workshop 4: Intellectual Property

Peter Schuerman will be hosting our intellectual property workshop, which will go over what participants need to know regarding copyright law and IP infringement. Dr. Schuerman will also discuss potential business models that pertain to app developers.

RSVP March 30th, 6:00-7:00pm in SSB 120

Speaker: Paul Scerri, Founder of Platypus LLC.

Paul Scerri is a researcher at CMU and the founder of Platypus LLC, a group working to bring down the environmental impact of water data collection through low-cost robotic sensing.

RSVP April 1, 12:00-1:00pm in SSB 120

Workshop 5: Pitch Presentation

Professor John Haner will be giving a talk on pitch presentation- how to present oneself, how to speak publicly, and what goes into a concise yet effective pitch.

April 13th, 6:00-7:00pm in SSB 120

Poster Draft Due

Teams will be showing their poster at the semi-finals, and it is important that posters are clear and informative. Posters are 36"x48", portrait orientation. Teams need to submit a draft of their poster by Friday, April 15th.

April 15

Mock Presentations

We will be holding mock presentations to provide feedback and suggestions from mentors and peers.

April 21, 6-7:00pm in SSB 160

Final Poster Due

Teams' posters are due Friday, April 22nd so they can be printed before Semi-Finals. Posters are 36"x48", portrait orientation.

April 22


All teams will present their project before an audience of judges and peers, followed by a one-on-one poster session in which teams will be able to discuss their project with the judges.

RSVP April 30, 9:30am-3:30pm in SSB 160

Workshop 6: Pitch Improvement

Teams will be meeting with Stefano Foresti to discuss how they can improve their pitch before finals.

May 4th, 1:30-3:30pm

Grand Finals

Teams that move on from the semifinals will be awarded their prizes. This event coincides with UC Merced's Innovate 2 Grow finals.


RSVP May 13

2016 Winners

Most Environmentally Aware

Your environment consists of the world around you. You explore it, breathe it, and see it but how can you affect it? Think of ways to encourage reduced pollution, increased greenery, and expanded environmental awareness.

2016 Finalist: DRYVE

Best Design/UI

Your environment consists of the world around you. You explore it, breathe it, and see it but how can you affect it? Think of ways to encourage reduced pollution, increased greenery, and expanded environmental awareness.

2016 Finalist: UpNote

Best Pitch/Demo/Poster

We are learning every day, whether it is through school, work, daily activities, or an app on a mobile phone. Create something that inspires others to learn something new and encourages continued mental development.

2016 Finalist: Craze

Most Safety Oriented

“It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver” – Mahatama Ghandi. Encourage someone to live a healthier lifestyle with an app that could encourage healthy eating, promote daily exercise, or help track weight. 

2016 Finalist: Vitals

Most Market Ready

Many mobile apps have gone viral and have made profit due to their popularity and potential to scale. Develop an app that is market ready.

2016 Finalist: ConnCat

2016 Grand Prize Winners

Team Dryve took home first place for the 2016 Mobile App Challenge with their "Carpool made easy for college students" app.

Runner Up

Team UpNote