Mechanical Terp


Philippe Azimzadeh                         Asif Jamil                            Julian Capps        

Biology Major                                    Biology Major                        Criminology Major

Class of 2012                                   Class of 2011                        Class of 2012                


College students are faced with the difficulty of being self reliant and responsible for their time management. College can be a stressful time in one’s life, as students are suddenly cast into utter independence. Unfortunately, many students subsequently miss out on groups, activities, events and organizations that they would ideally be spending time on, if only time allowed.  Mechanical Terp will allow the Maryland student to enjoy more time pursuing their interests by reducing the amount of time spent doing undesirable tasks.  With Mechanical Terp, students are guaranteed a medium that allows them to instantly harness the talents and willpower of their peers.  

Mechanical Terp is a service which allows students to post tedious, frequent, time-consuming, or any other useful task for a fee, or to earn money by completing other students’ tasks. The service will have several different interfaces, including a cross-platform mobile web application, possibly a native iOS app, and a traditional desktop computer optimized website. The majority of the front-end will be written using HTML, CSS, and Javascript. We are considering simply using an application wrapper such as PhoneGap to link Javascript to iOS APIs, allowing us not only to publish a highly polished iOS app, but also use the same methods in the future to publish apps to other platforms if we so choose. We are still considering how the back-end of the service will be powered.

Mechanical Terp will be used by the average student as a medium to offer certain tasks he or she cannot find the time for to other students for cash-based-points.  A user will be able to immediately view available proposed tasks on their mobile device or add new tasks themselves.  With a credit system built in, users can set a price for their given task, and upon selection by the second user, initiate contact with them.  This would be made easier by location settings and integrated “chat” features or something along those lines.  Students could, for example, trade cash for delivery of books, food, coffee, or school supplies, instead of leaving their dorm rooms during heavy studying.  Likewise, students looking for quick and easy ways to pick up a few extra dollars could trade relatively easy favors and services.

With any application that involves transactions, an inherent risk is present: the appropriate management of a payment system. Managing a payment system might prove to be difficult, since the app requires that both parties enter into a contractual agreement. The Mechanical Terp service will have to act as a middle man by first collecting payment from the task poster and, subsequently, compensating the runner.  

We think that Mechanical Terp will have an immense impact on university life because of its potential use in thousands of different situations. Though we have our own ideas and suggestions about how students will use Mechanical Terp, we are extremely excited to see how Maryland students will improve their lives by putting our service to use in a variety of unforeseen ways.

This is the distilled summary of Mechanical Terp. We are chock full of exciting ideas which may or may not make it in the app’s first iteration, and we are thrilled to be working on something which we think could change students’ lives at Maryland. If you have programming experience and want to join the Mechanical Terp team, find us at the Mobility Contest meetings or email any of the team members.