newRoots for new Canadians

Carlos SaavedraUWaterloo grad student’s life-changing app won $25,000 in national hackathon

Carlos Saavedra, a student in Waterloo’s Master of Digital Experience Innovation program at the Stratford Campus, won the first Canadian Open Data Experience, a 48-hour hackathon that challenged participants to create an application that would better the lives of Canadians. Carlos’s invention was awarded the $25,000 grand prize and also won the $1,000 fan favourite prize, as chosen by Canadians in an online poll.

Carlos and his partner, Jason Ernst, a computer science PhD student at the University of Guelph, call their team Electric Sheep. They have developed newRoots, an app that matches new immigrants with Canadian cities that offer the greatest opportunity for success.

Using datasets from Employment and Social Development Canada, Statistics Canada, Canada Revenue Agency and others, newRoots asks users to complete a simple survey. Individuals are then matched with cities that provide them the greatest potential for success based on their skills and preferences.

"Ultimately, it's about helping people,” says Carlos. “We are committed to transforming lives and putting our stamp on the world, and we feel newRoots is an application that will get us started on this path."

His parents both immigrated to Canada to find new opportunities, so he is keenly aware of the challenges individuals and families face as they begin their lives here. But thanks to newRoots, that landscape is looking a little less daunting. Try it out.

You can read more about Carlos and this project on UWaterloo Stories and Stratford Blog

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