Students participate in JanPlan technology challenge

Over JanPlan, CGI Group, formerly Collaborative Consulting, presented an open technical question, challenging students to solve it in exchange for a summer internship with the company. The question prompted students to optimize the existing system for sending and receiving academic transcripts. Students then presented their solutions in a pitch at the end of JanPlan.

One team, comprised of Austin Nantkes ’20 and Chris Marcello ’20, pitched a tailored solution for Colby that’s central feature is the expedition of transcripts. “Currently it takes one to three days for the registrar’s office to process a request for a transcript. Once it is mailed, it takes 3-5 days to reach the recipient. With our solution, it takes less than a day,” Nantkes said in an interview with the Echo.

CGI asked the participants to use a new technology called Blockchain, which allows data to be stored securely. Blockchain is an inimitable database which contains a list of records and allows data to be stored and accessed securely. The technology rose to prominence several years ago as a way to validate Bitcoins. Since then, fin-tech startups, as well as large financial institutions, have been trying to incorporate Blockchain technology into their systems. Based on this demand, a second group comprised of Robbie DeAngelo ’19 and Robert Durst ’19 pitched their idea to CGI to create a company called Docblock with the goal of creating a new prime standard for securely storing and sharing academic transcripts.

“Currently, requesting parties experience unpredictable wait times and confusing, inefficient verification. In addition, students o en have multiple transcripts to compile from separate study abroad and summer course institutions,” Durst said. A nonprofit organization known as the National Student Clearinghouse provides independent verification for over 3,600 academic institutions worldwide. DeAngelo and Durst believe that Docblock could be the new standard for academic record verification, using Blockchain as a competitive advantage in a race to lower delivery costs.

For the summer term of the students’ internship, the groups will create a final product with a possible implementation at the College, under the guidance of experienced professionals at CGI. The students were excited for this opportunity. “I am very excited about the opportunity to work on cutting edge technology for a multi-billion dollar company this summer. I could not imagine a better way to spend my first summer in Maine,” Durst said.

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