Winning app, ‘JunkRide,’ offers practical solutions to illegal dumping

  Wednesday, December 9, 2020
  Awards and Recognitions

By Amanda Taylor

RIO GRANDE VALLEY, TEXAS – Three UTRGV design students within the College of Fine Arts School of Art took first and second places at the annual Adobe Jam Texas Design Competition, during a virtual event held mid-November.

The contest featured 82 teams with more than 161 entrants. Ten teams were named finalists, with five of those teams from UTRGV. 

Laura Segura, a senior graphic design major, won first place for developing an app called “JunkRide,” which provides smart, simple solutions to help people get rid of bulk trash, like old refrigerators, tires and other items not easy to haul away. The app was created to help stop illegal dumping.

“The majority of residents don’t know where to properly dispose of their waste, so their solution is to dump it anywhere and someone would come pick it up for disposal,” she said. “I thought there should be an easier way for this issue.”

The design challenge was to create a third-party mobile app that generated solutions that could optimize infrastructure, mobility, public services, utilities, communications, public health, or resource distribution on a local, regional, statewide, or national level. The app also had to have a meaningful and positive impact on the community and improve equity.

“I am an amateur and didn’t expect to win,” Segura said. “When I heard my name as the first-place winner, I was overjoyed. Hard work does pay off.” 

Segura developed the app within an Advanced Graphic Design class taught by Dr. Elizabeth Berger, UTRGV associate professor of Art.

“Our program is equipping students to enter the expanding fields of emerging media and user experience design (often called UX),” Berger said. “These are high-paying careers that offer lots of job opportunities for our graduates.”

Segura won a $250 Amazon gift card and an Adobe swag bag.



The second-place winners, UTRGV juniors and graphic design majors Frida Retana and Latifah Khuffash, created an app called “YourAmigo,” which focuses on safety and crime prevention by providing ways to track your location and alert a friend when placed in an unsafe situation. It also finds the quickest routes to hospitals, if needed, and can directly call police departments.

“Latifah and I felt that the topic of domestic violence prevention and the feeling of safety was important, so we decided to center our app around that,” Retana said. “I hope this app helps surrounding communities further educate themselves on sensitive topics like domestic violence and night safety. It’s important that we feel safe in any situation.”

Codesigner Khuffash said they were overjoyed with their outcome in the contest, especially because time constraints were a challenge and they had to complete the app while continuing their normal coursework responsibilities.

“It seemed like a reward after the rigorous weekend we had designing the app,” she said. “It was nice being able to represent our university in a competition created by Adobe, whose products we use daily.”

They created the app in a class taught by Dr. Ping Xu, UTRGV associate professor of graphic design.

Retana and Khuffash each received a $150 Amazon gift card and swag bags.



Three other UTRGV teams received recognition by finishing in the top 10.

  • Noemi Garcia and Miroslava Rodriquez, who developed the CityMobile App, a project created in Xu’s ARTS 3333 Design & Production class.
  • Ashley Garcia and Michael Tiong, who developed the Maske App, a project created in Berger’s ARTS 4334 Advanced Graphic Design class.
  • And Lorelei Lopez and Jaquelin Leal, who developed the Urbs App, a project created in Xu’s ARTS 4338 Interactive Design class.

Students who placed in the top 10 were awarded a $25 Amazon gift card each.

In addition to UTRGV, other teams competing from within The University of Texas System were UT Dallas, UT Arlington and UT San Antonio.

Berger said that the numerous awards given to UTRGV design students reflects the growing interest in the design fields and reflects positively on the UTRGV College of Fine Art.

“These wins reflect the quality of the design program here at UTRGV,” she said. “The caliber of work being done and the buzz it generates within the design community help elevate the reputation of the entire UTRGV School of Art.”


The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) was created by the Texas Legislature in 2013 as the first major public university of the 21st century in Texas. This transformative initiative provided the opportunity to expand educational opportunities in the Rio Grande Valley, including a new School of Medicine, and made it possible for residents of the region to benefit from the Permanent University Fund – a public endowment contributing support to the University of Texas System and other institutions.

UTRGV has campuses and off-campus research and teaching sites throughout the Rio Grande Valley including in Boca Chica Beach, Brownsville (formerly The University of Texas at Brownsville campus), Edinburg (formerly The University of Texas-Pan American campus), Harlingen, McAllen, Port Isabel, Rio Grande City, and South Padre Island. UTRGV, a comprehensive academic institution, enrolled its first class in the fall of 2015, and the School of Medicine welcomed its first class in the summer of 2016.