The academic year is winding down at many colleges and so are many students’ meal plans and bank account balances. Instead of reaching for the ramen noodles (AGAIN), grab your computer instead. That’s what Greg Woloschyn did last year and it paid off: He created Food-bot and didn’t pay for food for five months.
The then-senior and computer science major at Carnegie Mellon grew tired of scouring his campus for free dining options so he created an email account that screened messages from every mailing list on campus for food-related terms. Once that method proved successful, Woloschyn spent his winter break writing a more advanced computer program called Food-bot which used the information to populate a food calendar online. His findings weren’t just doughnuts or pizza either: Woloschyn trained the program to rate the food mentioned in event listings (for example, steak earned a 10) and assigned “awkwardness” ratings for no-cost noshies at ethnic or religious-affiliated events.
One year later, Woloschyn’s plate is pretty full: He’s expanded Food-bot beyond Carnegie Mellon to serve empty-pocketed students at Berkeley, the University of Maryland at College Park, Duke, Case Western and MIT and has plans to develop mobile applications for Android phones and iPhones this summer when he’s not at work as a software engineer for Qualcomm. If you’ve tried Food-bot, has it kept your belly and wallet satisfied?