UMSS21 Student Profile: Jacob Mealey

Jacob Mealey’s UMaine Student Symposium project focuses on COVID-19 contact tracing. He has designed a system that utilizes Android cellphones and a Bluetooth Beacon. The phone uses an app that constantly scans the unique ID of each beacon, and looks for the closest one. When the app detects a new beacon, it updates a server that tracks the user, beacon ID, and the time of close contact. The goal of the app is to help determine close contacts of someone who tested positive for COVID-19.

This project developed out of a summer assignment that he received working in the New Media department’s ASAP Media Services lab. His boss, Mike Scott, tasked Mealey and two co-workers to build a contact tracing system that used RFID Cards (radio frequency ID cards that can be scanned). After developing a system that worked fairly well, the team wondered what would happen if someone failed to scan in or out of a room. The adaptation to this design flaw led to the development of a Bluetooth system that could be used for contact tracing.

As a CUGR fellow, Mealey has been able to gain experience in project management and develop a design perspective. He has overseen this project from its conception to a specific goal. Mealey is a second-year computer engineering student and has always enjoyed building things. He wanted to build something that would help people. Though this project is not yet complete, the CUGR fellowship has helped him push his knowledge in coding, management, and problem solving.