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Rad Grad Projects: See What Alchemists Are Creating!

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

A deep dive into graduate projects Sonic Blooming, Techlandia Hackathon, and Gibberish for HackOR

Right out of the gate, our grads are trained to do work that we're proud to share.

People come to Alchemy equipped with creativity and the ambition to make a meaningful contribution to the world. After gaining robust software development skills through our rigorous program, they’re ready to combine that creativity with top-tier tech. The results are extraordinary. Alchemy grads consistently provide examples of how software development can solve human-centered problems!

Check out these three post-grad collaborative projects that contribute to the community while also serving as stellar portfolio pieces:

  • Sonic Blooming: A sound app for Portland’s International Rose Test Garden
  • An app benefiting the nonprofit New Avenues for Youth
  • Gibberish: A game redesign inspired by Scrabble for HackOR

Expressing Natural Phenomena through Sound

Sonic Blooming is an example of tech’s power to enrapture, thrill, and capture beauty in a fresh way. The app allows people to explore, meditate, and generally vibe with the plants in the International Rose Test Garden or at home in their own garden. Plus, it's easy to use on multiple platforms.

Alchemy grads Mikey Romay (June 2020 Cohort) and Jena Boehm (March 2021 Cohort) used their development skills to feature nature in collaboration with sound artist Crystal Cortez.

This gave me the opportunity to contribute to a real-world app that is used by the public right after completing the program.

Jena Boehm

Jena also said, "It gave me insight into responsive design and browser compatibility while working with a client/product owner to deliver a polished and finished product. Additionally, what initially sparked my interest in coding and development was the desire to combine technology with art and music in creative ways. This was the perfect way to steer my career in that direction and solidify that intention.”

Mikey and Jena used remote collaboration skills to move this project forward. The app is built in React in the browser and uses the Web Audio API.

"I come from a background of doing collaborative interactive art installations using various forms of technology, so this project was right up my alley," said Mikey.

I feel that every project I'm a part of like this puts forward momentum towards more professional opportunities that are "unconventional," art-focused, and open up new ways to use the tools I've learned at Alchemy and beyond to create cool and accessible digital art.

Mikey Romay

Though they hadn’t collaborated while at Alchemy, Career Services connected Mikey and Jena for a coffee date, fueled by their mutual interest in music production. They kept in touch through the Alchemy network and when the opportunity to collaborate on this project came up, it was a seamless decision.

The app was not only a chance to express their creativity in collaboration, it’s also a project that builds their portfolios as they launch their software development careers.

The Soundwalk ran May 15 - June 15, 2021 as part of ThirdAngleNewMusic's soundwalk series. App concept by Crystal Cortez, design by General Qu, Photos by Clamber, Audio Mastering by Kale Nixon.

Coding for a Cause

One of our favorite events is the Techlandia Design Sprint hackathon, where Alchemy grads took first place by building an app benefiting local nonprofit New Avenues for Youth.

Over the course of a week, seven teams made up of 280 individuals work on challenges presented by non-profit organizations to address food security, child health and wellness initiatives, and the digital divide. The event is sponsored by the Technology Association of Oregon in partnership with AT&T, Google, and the Portland Trail Blazers in conjunction with the Techlandia Summit.

Alchemy grads consistently show up at this competition to build incredible solutions.

Team Alchemy was made up of three grads: Jenna Goldman, Dannie Schumaker, Chelsea Spangler, and Ed Arib (from the City of Portland). Together they built the prototype with React Native and Expo, and chose Airtable on the back end so that the client could easily maintain their database without having a developer on staff.

Alchemy prepared us to take an idea from the design phase into production in just a few days, even though we were working with a lot of technologies that were completely new to us.

Chelsea Spangler

"Where other teams struggled with communication, we were primed to front-load our collaboration to get everyone on the same page, so we could later work quickly and independently in a coordinated way. Taking our tech and project management skills from Alchemy into a scenario where we had the opportunity to work with a client and their real-world needs was also incredibly rewarding, Chelsea shared.

New Avenues for Youth is an organization that really resonates with each of us. We were honored to have the opportunity to build a prototype that could help youth in our community quickly navigate to a designated safe place — especially during a crisis — and communicate with a trained adult.

Dannie Schumaker

New Avenues for Youth is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the prevention and intervention of youth homelessness. Their programs and services impact young people as they work to overcome barriers, pursue their goals, and realize their potential. From supporting basic needs like meals and counseling to providing opportunities for education, job training, employment, and housing, they meet youth where they are—and help them get where they want to go.

A Classic Game Gets a Tech Boost

HackOR is Oregon's premier all-student hackathon, a 48-hour virtual hackathon where programmers of all experience levels and backgrounds gather to collaborate on a project. Paul Stevens, Evan Finklestein, and Sjaan Hydrick were the Alchemy grads who won Best UI/UX, coming in third overall out of 375 participants!

The event is organized and chaired by major schools in Oregon and attracts participants from across the United States and internationally.

The Alchemy grad team created Gibberish, an online, multiplayer, turn-based, word game in which a player scores points by forming nonsense words that sound like English but aren't.

Inspired by Scrabble, Gibberish added D-E-V to the tile bag with word detection A.I. that analyzed all 267,751 words in the Scrabble dictionary. It was built using React, Node, and Socket.io.

“This hackathon was like a whole project week condensed in 48 hours,” Paul said. “It was intense, but also incredibly fun because I had such strong teammates. Sjaan owned the design, Evan built the frontend, and I did the backend.

Because we communicated and trusted each other, we were able to build a cool prototype in just two days. It was a crunch, but after Alchemy we were comfortable with that.

Paul Stevens

What’s next for this creative team of Alchemists?

Paul said it best.

“Today HackOR, tomorrow the world.”