Woman sitting on bed with a cup of coffee

February 12, 2016

Engineering students hope award-winning app inspires more female programmers

McMaster students Natalie Perna and Helen Brown took home the top prize at a recent banking programming challenge.

Perna and Brown, both of whom are Master of Computer Science students, placed first among 40 teams who entered the IBM and TD Bank Challenge in Ottawa on January 22. Teams were tasked with creating a personal finance app to suit various everyday lifestyles from travelling to sports to social activities to music.

Perna and Brown created ‘’Cupful’, an iOS app for potential customers to find local coffee shops and restaurants, as well as make orders and payments. While several larger chains already have something similar, the pair designed the app with smaller businesses in mind. The demo included a live tweet demonstrating how this app enables tech-savvy word-of-mouth advertising for small businesses.

“We've always had remarkable experiences at CAN-CWiC [Canadian Celebration of Women in Computing] and met inspiring women who we look forward to reconnecting with every year,” Brown said. “We feel so honoured to have won their first programming challenge, especially alongside so many other high caliber entries.”

“We've come away with an even stronger desire to encourage young women to participate in computing, and we look forward to helping more McMaster University students participate in next year's conference and competition,” Perna said.

The first place winners took home a prize of $1000.