BY KAREN GERHARDINGER | MIRROR REPORTER — Like many college students, 2017 Anthony Wayne High School graduate Nashad Rahman felt a little unmoored when in-person classes were nixed due to COVID-19 this spring.
Instead of lounging in his pajamas and enjoying some slack time, the Ohio State University junior created an app to help him stay motivated and on task.
Koalati – an offshoot of its original name, Quality Time – is now available for free from the Apple App Store.
“So far, about 75 people have downloaded it, including people in countries where I don’t know anyone, like Brazil,” Rahman said.
Koalati’s tagline, “Plan, Develop and Reflect,” is holding true for the users who left comments on the Apple store platform.
“Honestly, the most straightforward, easy-to-use and organized planning app. So simple, exactly what everyone needs,” wrote LovelyLou12.
“Finally, something to keep me organized and motivated!” commented Score-HeroMagician.
For Rahman, a research assistant at OSU’s Scarlet Laser Facility, resident advisor and biological sciences scholar, staying organized is a must, but he didn’t set out to create an app.
“I started doing a bullet journal, giving myself stickers every time I completed a task. It was a way to track and motivate myself,” he said. “I thought, ‘Why not an excel spreadsheet?’ But that’s significantly less fun than stickers on a page. So I thought, ‘Why don’t I learn to make an app?’ It’s a nice skill to have, and I have never done it before.”
While Rahman had a solid understanding of computer programming, he relied on free online resources to learn how to develop an app. It took about 200 hours just to code the app, plus another 20 hours of tweaking and eliminating the bugs.
“If I were to do it again, it would be a lot easier. It’s like learning to do a math problem that’s very difficult; the first time it will take a while. Once you do it and have practice, it doesn’t take as long,” Rahman said. “Anyone could do something like this with the free tools online. I think high school students could take on a task like this and learn to develop an app.”
Once he had it ready, he recruited a dozen volunteers to give him feedback on what they wanted in the app. That made Rahman realize that while he developed the app for himself, he needed to create it for a larger audience. For students and young adults, having a digital version of goals and tasks is more manageable than a physical calendar or many resources.
User Saima Prima agreed. “(This) really helped me keep track of my schedule,” she wrote. “No need for looking at multiple notepad texts anymore!”
Upon logging into the app, users identify goals for the day or daily routines, and can link into calendars as well.
“The main purpose for me was I had to hold myself accountable. Secondary is that I have this great new skill I can use and show off when I go to job fairs. It’s proof that I can do these things,” Rahman said.
While he was at Anthony Wayne High School, Rahman gained plenty of experience, including three years in the Robotics Club, four years in cross country and Close Harmony Choir and as the lead in several musicals, including All Shook Up. Before his senior year, Rahman was accepted to OSU to major in biochemistry. Taking a physics class his senior year changed his mind.
“When I finished, I realized physics was something I was really passionate about,” he said.
“I really do like the idea of studying something that’s a fundamental science of nature. From my perspective, everything can be described with physics.”
Initially at OSU, Rahman honed in on particle physics. In 2019, he landed an internship at the University of Glasgow in Scotland, to do research with a group that focuses on the ATLAS detector of the Large Hadron Collider. While the 17-mile collider is located in Geneva, Switzerland, people all over the world collaborate on the project.
Now his focus is on laser physics. As research assistant at the Scarlet Laser Facility, he helps manage and operate the laser, doing experiments on one of the largest lasers in the world. Due to COVID, the lab was shut down, but he was offered an internship to work from home.
“It’s simulating lasers to get them to accelerate protons,” he said. “I’m doing more simulations and programming than I normally would.”
At OSU, Rahman is a member of Buck That, an acapella group that performs around campus and at corporate, public and media events. As for post-college plans, Rahman isn’t sure yet.
“Koalati definitely made me realize that I could enjoy doing software development as a career,” he said.