Watching positive videos helped fourth-year dental student Alex Piedra stay motivated for exams, which gave him an idea. Frustrated with a lack of cutting-edge technology in mental health, he asked himself, “Why isn’t there an app that only gives positive feedback?”
With support from faculty at the School of Dentistry, Piedra helped create MoodPal, a “mental wellness social media app” that relieves stress by allowing users to keep in touch only with those closest to them, instead of the usual thousands of “friends” on a normal social media account.
On his way to becoming a pediatric dentist, Piedra frequently works with children. “I realized I had an opportunity to inspire and give them confidence,” Piedra said.
MoodPal won the $5,000 prize for Best in Entertainment Arts and Engineering at the 2017 Bench to Bedside (B2B) competition, a showcase of new devices and apps designed to improve medicine. Alexander Au and Surabhi Kasera led the B2B team; Mark Van der Merwe and Tarun Sunkaraneni coded the app; and Kathy Tran, U alum and multidisciplinary artist, did the design.
“When people click a meme, smiles light up,” Piedra said. “Those positive moments can exponentially affect them for the rest of the day.”
Find this article and a lot more in the 2018 “Student Innovation @ the U” report. The publication is presented by the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute to celebrate student innovators, change-makers and entrepreneurs.