Pitt Mobile App Challenge

It's Back and Better Than Ever!

You could win prizes of $4,000, $2,000, $1,000 or $500 in Amazon gift cards! Choose your challenge and get started! Submissions are open now!

The Pitt Mobile App Challenge gives Pitt undergraduate students at all campuses a chance to share their mobile app ideas with the Pitt community and win some terrific prizes. This year's App Challenge features a chance to pick your own challenge and the opportunity to win even bigger prizes. All winners will be determined by a combination of student voting and scores awarded by a panel of judges.Submit your app

You can participate by creating a visual mockup that shows how your app would work (our "Show It" category), or you can go all in and create a working prototype of your app (our "Code It" category).

You can get started now. Submissions are open and will run through March 27. Click the Submit button to upload your app! Voting and judging will take place from April 3 to April 16.

Want to get a feel for the App Challenge in 90 seconds? Check out this video of last year's runners-up, Shil Patel and Asim Viqar.



Here's what you need to know for this year's App Challenge:   

Choose Your Challenge

Choose Your Challenge

Choose a challenge listed below and get started now! You can work alone or as part of a team.  

1. Design an app to help students lead a healthier lifestyle.

  • Your app might focus on nutrition, exercise, sleep, stress management, or other factors.  

2. Create an app to help students study and learn more effectively.

  • You might help them find study areas, connect them with study partners/groups, manage class notes, or find tutors.

3. Help foster a more diverse and inclusive campus community.

  • How might an app be used to help increase our awareness and appreciation of the different types of people who comprise our campus community? How might it be used to facilitate the exchange of ideas among people who have different views?

4. Build an app that promotes sustainability.

  • Your app might help people reduce their personal energy consumption, find more efficient travel options, help recycle and reduce waste, or take advantage of alternative energy sources.  

5. Help connect students with campus resources.

  • Maybe your app serves as a central hub for musical performances or theater events on campus. Or maybe it helps people find and join student groups, identify volunteer opportunities in the community, or locate the nearest print stations.

6. Open Challenge

  • Create your own theme. Identify a need and explain how your app solves that problem and addresses your theme.

Start Working on Your App (Show It or Code It)

Start Working on Your App (Show It or Code It)

This year you can participate in one of two categores.

Show It

The "Show It" category asks you to create a detailed mockup of your app that shows us what it would look like and how it would work. Use the PowerPoint template below to create your mockup. You can get started now.    

Show It

Code It

The "Code It" category asks you to build a working prototype of your app that functions on a mobile device. You can get started now. 

Code It



This year's winners be determined by a combination of student voting and scores awarded by a panel of judges.

Code It

  • First Place: $4,000 in Amazon gift cards
  • Second Place: $2,000 in Amazon gift cards 
  • Third Place: $1,000 in Amazon gift cards

Show It

  • First Place: $2,000 in Amazon gift cards
  • Second Place: $1,000 in Amazon gift cards 
  • Third Place: $500 in Amazon gift cards



Participation Requirements

  • The Pitt Mobile App Challenge is open to all University of Pittsburgh undergraduate students (full-time and part-time) on all campuses. Graduate students who were not enrolled as an undergraduate student at Pitt during the fall 2016 term, faculty, and staff are not eligible to participate.
  • All individual participants and/or team members must either be current University of Pittsburgh undergraduate students or have been enrolled as an undergraduate student at Pitt at some point during the fall 2016 or spring 2017 term.
  • Teams must include at least one student who is enrolled in the Spring 2017 term.
  • All work on entries must be performed by team members. No work is permitted to be outsourced to other individuals or entities. 

Submission Requirements

  • If your entry is based on another entry (for example, if your Code It entry builds on someone else’s Show It entry), then your submission must acknowledge the original entry to avoid disqualification. 
  • Entries in this year's Pitt Mobile App Challenge cannot be too similar to the winning ideas, mockups, and prototypes from previous year's Pitt Mobile App Challenges.
  • You may not submit the same app to both the Show It and Code It categories.
  • You may participate in both the Show It and Code It categories as long as you enter different apps in each category.  
  • The Pitt Mobile App Challenge team will review all entries prior to their publication on the voting site. Entries may be rejected if they do not meet the submission requirements or contain material deemed to be inappropriate.

Show It

    • Show It entries must be submitted as a PowerPoint presentation and contain information about each of the topics described in the template.

Code It

    • To be eligible, Code It entries must not have been submitted to any commercial app store prior to the end of the challenge.
    • Code It entries must be developed specifically for a mobile platform. Code It apps must function on a mobile device to qualify as a Code It submission.
    • The major functionality of a Code It entry must work for the prototype to be eligible.

Student Voting

  • Undergraduate students will assist in determining the winners in both categories (Show It and Code It) through online voting (e.g., “likes”).
  • Voters may like as many submissions as they choose, but they can only like each submission once.
  • Students may promote their submission to gain student votes if they choose to do so. All methods of promotion should follow University policies, guidelines, and standards.   


  • Students' votes will be combined with scores from a judge’s panel vote to determine the winners.
  • Show It submissions will be judged entirely upon the PowerPoint submission to the contest website.
  • Code It submissions will be judged based upon a combination of the PowerPoint submission, the uploaded video of the app, and an in-person demonstration of the app and code that one of the team members will present to a judging panel. 
  • The Code It demonstration must be done on a mobile device or emulator provided by the team that submitted the entry. 

Other Items

  • The identity of entrants will not be revealed to the University community during the voting period. The identities of the winners in each category will be revealed.
  • Team captains are responsible for splitting prizes among team members as they deem appropriate. Computing Services and Systems Development will not assist teams in prize distribution.
  • The University of Pittsburgh, and CSSD, do not maintain the rights to entries made by students into the Pitt Mobile App Challenge. 
  • CSSD reserves the right to disqualify any submission or student from the Pitt Mobile App Challenge at any time for any reason. 
  • CSSD reserves the right to amend any rule of this competition at any time for any reason. 
  • Students who submit an entry agree to participate in a recorded promotional video, if requested to do so. 

Resources to Help You Build Your App

Resources to Help You Build Your App

Video Tutorials

Online technology training is available to all students, faculty, and staff through a partnership with lynda.com. There are several playlists available at lynda.pitt.edu that you may find helpful.

Security Guidelines and Tips from App Developers

Security tips are available for developing in both iOS and Android platforms.

Accessibility Guidelines   

Accessibility guidelines are available for iOS, Android, and Windows:

Other Resources

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can I enter more than one submission?

A: Yes, provided that the submissions are different topics.

Q: Can a submission be entered into both the Show It and Code It categories?

A: No. You must pick one category. Submitting the same entry as both a Show It and Code It may be grounds for disqualification. 

Q: What qualifies as a mobile app?

A: Your app must function on a mobile device. Providing an excellent user experience should be one of the key criteria for your mobile app. How you deliver that user experience, whether through a standalone mobile app or a mobile friendly web site, is at the discretion of you and your team. In general, the more effort you put into your app, the better the user experience will be. The Resources to Help You Build Your App section of this Web page provides a wealth of options for bringing your app idea to life.   

Q: For the Code It category, how completely developed does the mobile app need to be? Does the submitted app need to connect to active data tables?

A: Students assume all risks associated with connections to data sources. The submission is a prototype, so such connections are not required. It is possible, but not guaranteed, that a more completely developed app may earn a better result than a less developed app.   

Q: Can I submit my own PowerPoint template instead of using the template provided?

A: You should use the PowerPoint templated provided on this page for the background theme and organization of your content. You may add additional slides to the template as needed to explain how your app works. If you omit information requested in the template, it will likely impact the final score for your app.

Q: How does the competition differ from last year?

A: This year there are two categories (Show It and Code It) rather than three. We are asking participants to provide more detailed information about their Show It entry and their Code It entry than in previous years.

Q: Is the scoring different than last year?

A: Yes. Winners will be determined by a combination of popular student vote and scores awarded by a panel of judges. Submissions may be judged against criteria such as originality, adherence to challenge theme, user experience, clarity of presentation, and appropriate use of technology.  

Q: How can I get my class, organization, or social group more involved with the Pitt Mobile App Challenge?

A: Please email or call the Technology Help Desk at 412-624-HELP [4357].

Q: I have a question about the Pitt Mobile App Challenge that is not covered here. Where can I find the answer?

A: Please email or call the Technology Help Desk at 412-624-HELP [4357].

What's It Like Participating in the Challenge?

What's It Like Participating in the Challenge?

Watch some of the participants from previous challenges talk about their Code It below. You can also view a complete list of previous winners for some inspiration! 

2016 Pitt Mobile App Challenge

2015 Pitt Mobile App Challenge

Previous Winners

Tags: Mobile App Mobile Apps for Mobile Devices