Ohio University “Sends a Message” to improve Health

Ohio University has a capstone course led by Professor Nasseef Abukamail to give students a broad range of development experiences. Whether that’s a software researching task, or exposure to an advanced tech stack that is used by popular companies in their industry, these students work for two semesters to build and expand on a project or idea. AFFORDABLE is fortunate to be included in the list of projects, with the desire to not only teach and mentor the skills of these students but ensure that their hard work will be utilized in a benevolent way to improve the community healthcare space. AFFORDABLE seeks to build and integrate features that will be an asset to community organizations to complement their current operations and better achieve their goals.

One component would be to effectively communicate with individuals who are interested in that organization’s programs. Those programs would want to be able to follow up with their applicants to do important tasks: schedule follow-ups, gather additional information, garner feedback, etc. This would be an effective tool if done seamlessly. So, the Lone Wolf Squad, as they named themselves, took on the task of creating and implementing a messaging system.

Over the course of 10 months, they did an excellent job of learning about the tools required for a messaging framework to be created. They sought to use three basic functions:

  • Create a user that can send messages
  • Send a message to one user that cannot be observed by other users on the chat
  • Have the message send and update in real-time
  • Create custom groups to exchange messages

Here is an example of what they were able to create at the end of the semester:

The team consisted of Colin, Alya, and Ethan and they had to overcome several challenges to make this possible, including several rounds of debugging and refactoring to get the features to work consistently. While they took some great leaps forward, there is a lot of work to be done. There can be many features added to this basic functionality, including the addition of document sharing, message history, message queries, and possibly video calls. Furthermore, there is little communication between the chat server and the Affordable server. The back end was built with Ruby on Rails and requires a new cohort to work on integrating the chat APIs with our AFFORDABLE client.

Fortunately, OU students will be passing the torch to a new group starting in the fall. Alya ElGamel from the team has decided to join our core leadership team and help guide and mentor the cohort in the fall to help the new team get the most out of their time with this project. We are grateful to everyone who has worked hard to make these developments possible.

Meet the Team:

Lone Wolf Squad

Name: Ethan Roush

Bio: “I have a passion for gardening, mobile photography, and collecting old computers and software. I’m also an avid environmentalist that loves a challenge. Upon graduation, I want to get a job in the field of IT/Software Quality Assurance.”

Name: Alya ElGamal

Bio: “I am a fun spirited computer science student with way too many hobbies.”

Name: Colin McKinley

Bio: “I am a CS and Mathematics major from Cleveland, Ohio. My past internships include a 6-month rotation on a derivatives trading desk with an insurance company, and a development position with a hedge fund. In my free time, I like to hang out with friends and work on various side projects.”

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