ASU students named US finalists in Red Bull Basement global competition

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Two ASU undergraduates were selected from 182 applications nationwide for their innovative note-taking tool, Jotted.

ASU students named US finalists in Red Bull Basement global competition

ASU students and roommates Sylvia Lopez (left) and Brinlee Kidd were named the U.S. finalists in the Red Bull Basement Global Final.

By Diane Boudreau

Nov. 8, 2021

Two Arizona State University students will represent the United States in Turkey in the Red Bull Basement Global Final Dec. 13–15. Brinlee Kidd and Sylvia Lopez were selected from 182 applications across the country to pitch their automated note taking tool, Jotted.

“Our goal with Jotted is to empower students and prepare them for the academic challenges they will inevitably face,” explains Lopez.

Like other popular note-taking apps, Jotted lets students type notes and organize them into digital notebooks. But it doesn’t stop there. The software automatically creates flash cards from the notes for future studying. It also includes a resource-finding feature. For example, if a student is confused during a lecture and the professor moves on too quickly, the student can mark that portion of the notes. Jotted will conduct a search and suggest additional resources to increase understanding. Before an exam, Jotted will even create practice tests based on the lecture notes. 

The idea for Jotted grew out of personal experience.

“It kind of came to a head when I had a test in my computer information systems class,” says Kidd, a freshman majoring in informatics with a minor in film and media production. “It took me 11 hours to study for this test. But by the time the test came, I realized that I spent more time just trying to find information than actually learning it.”

Kidd brought up the topic with her roommate, Lopez, also a freshman studying industrial engineering with a minor in human systems engineering. Their dorm-room discussions evolved into the idea for Jotted.

While the tool can help with late-night cram sessions like Kidd’s, she and Lopez hope it will also reduce the need for them, as well as “take the intimidation factor out of exams.”

“We think it could really help people learn better study habits. I mean, as you’re taking notes, giving you the option to create flash cards — that’s going to get you thinking about the test that’s coming up. Now you’ve just finished a lecture and you already have study resources. You already have a practice test. You already have all these resources and the test is two weeks away,” says Kidd.

Lopez and Kidd are students in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering and Barrett, the Honors College at ASU. Both are also Flinn ScholarsEarlier this semester, they joined ASU’s Luminosity Lab, a student-driven, interdisciplinary research and development lab.

“Luminosity is about reimagining the traditional university model of student engagement,” explains Mark Naufel, executive director of Luminosity Lab. “We train students of all academic backgrounds with a core set of 21st century skills that allow them to lead the development of cutting-edge technologies. This is done irrespective of age — and Sylvia and Brinlee are proof that with the right skills and motivation, our students can perform at the highest levels of excellence and compete on the world stage.” 

“I’d found an ad on Snapchat for Red Bull Basement,” recalls Kidd. “I brought it to Mark, saying maybe some of the older, more experienced lab members would be able to put something together to submit. And he just looked at us and said, ‘Why don’t you do it?’”

The Luminosity team supported Lopez and Kidd throughout the process of developing Jotted.

“We had enough coding knowledge to build out the foundation for an idea like this and to know that it was achievable, but once we advanced in the stages, we had a lot of late-night sessions with the people in the lab. They were incredibly supportive and efficient in creating this team around us,” says Kidd.

She adds: “In the past month or so I’ve learned so much about natural language processing, which is one of the main features in our app, and predictive analytics, things I never would have had the chance or connections to learn without the lab.”  

As finalists, Lopez and Kidd receive additional resources and support through Red Bull Basement. The program was created to empower student innovators in all areas of study to kickstart their ideas using technology to drive positive change.

Finalists are selected by a panel of judges who consider the feasibility, creativity and impact of the entries. Each finalist team — one from each participating country — receives access to a workspace, one-on-one sessions with international mentors and access to a global network of innovators.

“We have been set up with countless mentors from around the globe and within the U.S. Red Bull headquarters network. Already we’ve been able to talk with some incredible people,” says Lopez.

“We’re grateful for this opportunity from Red Bull Basement. It’s really incredible what they’re doing, creating a global community of young innovators that truly just want to change the world and make it a better place,” adds Kidd.

In December, Team Jotted will spend three days in Istanbul immersed in workshops, mentorship sessions and more, culminating in the Final Pitch and the announcement of the 2021 Global Winner from among the 44 national finalists. The winner will receive a custom package of resources to realize their unique idea. All of the finalists will forge business relationships and networking connections with some of the world’s most visionary thought leaders.

Lopez and Kidd offer some advice to other students with promising ideas who aren’t sure if they can turn them into reality.

“There’s no shame in asking questions,” says Lopez. “If you have an idea, ask around, see what your friends think. Ask about things you don’t know or things you want to learn.”

“I’m also an Edson E+I Fellow with the J. Orin Edson Entrepreneurship + Innovation Institute, and their catchphrase is ‘just start,’” says Kidd. “I think there’s no better way to describe it. If you have an idea, ASU is such an innovative university. If you just take a little bit of time to research, you can find people who want to help you bring your idea to fruition.”

Lopez adds: “With Jotted our goal is to empower students. We want to see anyone who even has an inkling of an idea give it a shot.”