Online platform for conducting educational mock trials

Empire Mock Trial - educational non-profit organization

Their mission is supporting people in developing their knowledge, skills and empathy needed to become capable, smart citizens to adapt in the developing world. They believe that it is important to instill in students an appreciation for the role of the citizens and their influence on a healthy democracy. Empire Mock Trial organize mock trial programs for high school students that educate, are culturally enriching, and empower them to be more compassionate and capable citizens.

Empire Mock Trial started as a father and son project in 2007. Justin Matarrese took part in such a mock trial program as a student and it interested him so much that with the help of his father Gregory Matarrese, Justin started the "THS Mock Trial Association" to raise funds for his school and organize a new trial competition. Over the following years, the project developed a lot and gained popularity and interest.

Video testimonials from the founder of the organization Justin Matarrese

A time of change for everyone

Currently, it is a large organization that operates throughout the United States and beyond, and has many interesting and diverse programs.Their operation was based only on the traditional organization of mock trials - Empire Classic. They were held at a designated location with the participation of many people, using paper documents and questionnaires. Unfortunately, with the advent of COVID-19, everything changed, many institutions and companies had to look for solutions for their further activities. This is how the idea of organizing online competitions was born. The first version was based in a simple way on google sheets, where calculations for results, pairing algorithms for specific rounds, etc. were stored. By means of integration with zoom, links to meetings were also automatically generated.

One of the people in the company, who was involved in the organization of mock trials, was also interested in programming and took on the task of improving the online version and converted everything contained in the sheets into django technology. This is how an application was created with a simple appearance and functionality fulfilled its purpose. As time passed and new modules were added, the project grew. It was already known that Empire online became another element of the organization and the desire to improve and make the application more attractive therefore grew. At the same time, the development of the project was so time consuming that it required more than one person to work.

The ImpiCode team supported the Empire Mock Trial in this regard. Together with the EMT developer, we worked on improving the quality of the code, fixing existing bugs and problems. Our task was also to refine the front-end design, we worked on making the application more visually attractive, and on improvements that contributed to a simpler and more pleasant user experience.
We agreed with the owner of the Empire Mock Trial on an ongoing basis, new ideas and needs, and then implemented them. Our main responsibility in this project was to redesign the entire application. However, we also introduced a large action items module - a module for managing actions that is available on users' websites.

The technological scope in which we moved in this implementation was Django, on which the entire application is based, PostgreSQL as a database, and we also used Redis to improve the operation of some modules.

Working on an existing and intensively used application of this type is a dynamic process that requires good communication between cooperating companies. Since the application serves many people - both organizers and participants, it must have many modules and be stable. The cooperation on the project went well despite the time difference between Poland and the United States.

Empire Mock Trial is very pleased with the cooperation with ImpiCode and the solution obtained, as evidenced by the video references given by Justin Matarrese.

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