In April 2011, Brian O’Bruba (Director of Career Services UC Merced), Marnee Chua (Former Director of Development – UC Merced) and Rani Yadav-Ranjan (CEO Gray Cloud Technology) met over coffee to discuss internship and job opportunities for UC Merced students with startups in the high-tech industry. By the time their cups were empty, the intensity of the conversation grew and the scope drilled down to three questions.
- How do we prepare tomorrow’s workforce to be more entrepreneurial and creative?
- What are the technical skill gaps that need to be filled?
- How do we inspire students to become entrepreneurs who are able to tackle real-world problems?
The group realized they had the chance to create an innovative entrepreneurial competition and the UC Merced Mobile App Challenge was born. Now in it’s third year, UC Merced students will again have the opportunity to work together in teams to develop apps that could launch a new business idea or an emerging technology and help people now and in the future.
In the Fall of 2013, Rani began working with Camille Crittenden (Deputy Director of CITRIS) to expand the Mobile App Challenge to other UC Campuses, beginning with UC Berkeley. The success of the UCM Mobile App Challenge was overwhelmingly positive and a collaboration with CITRIS seemed like an ideal platform to expand the challenge to the other UC campuses. Thus, the CITRIS Mobile App Challenge was formed.
UC Merced Mobile App Challenge Founders: (L to R) Brian O’Bruba, Director – Career Services UC Merced, Marnee Chua, Former Director of Development – UC Merced and Rani Yadav-Ranjan, CEO Gray Cloud Technology.