Abington IST students make presentation to governor and Microsoft CEO

It’s not every day the average college student gets to meet the governor of Pennsylvania and the CEO of Microsoft, Steve Ballmer. But then again these four Penn State Abington students aren’t average. On Wednesday, March 9, students James Boyer, Derrick Hiestand, Adalat Khan, and Stephen Murray traveled to Malvern to take part in the official ribbon-cutting ceremony for the opening of the newest Microsoft Technology Center -- one of only 10 in the country and 22 in the world. To see the students’ presentation, click here

The Penn State Abington student team -- known as MobileLions -- was one of only two college teams invited to participate in the tour of this state-of-the-art facility. The MobileLions have entered Microsoft’s prestigious Imagine Cup contest -- the world premiere student technology competition -- and were on hand to demonstrate their innovative competition entry using the power of Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 technology to implement their idea.

Addressing the theme of this year’s contest, “Imagine a world where technology helps solve the toughest problems,” the MobileLions are developing a smartphone application that could potentially save lives. ShopSafe, as the application is known, will scan grocery store items and alert the user to any ingredient on an already determined list of foods-to-avoid due to a life threatening allergy, disease or lifestyle limitation, such as weight loss.

According to Hiestand, the idea for this application came to him after seeing important people in his life struggle with their food limitations due to health issues.

“I wanted to help them,” said Hiestand. “I wanted to do something that could help these people live a (normal) day-to-day life. So hopefully with our application it’ll make it easier for them to do something as simple as grocery shopping whether it’s for allergies or weight loss or whatever. It can be used for everybody. That’s what I like most about it. Everybody can use this app.”

While other college students were sleeping late and taking it easy over spring break, this foursome was working hard on their high-profile presentation including buying coordinating shirts and ties in true blue Penn State colors.

“The IST program at Penn State Abington is great,” said Hiestand, “including Professor Oakes. We wouldn’t be here (Microsoft) if it weren’t for him.”

The Microsoft Imagine Cup competition finals will be held in July in New York City.