The Making of MealBot and Beyond

Chanho Kim, ’19


A picture of HAFS MealBot telling students about the lunch menu

  Q: A brief introduction of yourself, please.
A: Hello, my name is Donghyun Lee of the 12th International Course, a guy who’s really in love with deep-learning technology.

  Q: So what exactly is the HAFS MealBot?
A: The HAFS “MealBot” uses Facebook Messenger in chatting form to show the school’s meal menu easily, without having to install a separate application.

  Q: How did you come to create this, then?
A: Well, I wasn’t up to making the HAFS MealBot from the very beginning. I just looked up ChatBot-related technology out of boredom, and decided to have a go at making one myself. So I thought about what kind of ChatBot to make and then it struck me that the HAFS Official Meal Notification App, “God’s Meals” wasn’t working properly, so I chose a ChatBot that would tell us the menu. The actual process itself took only about a day but since I was busy for the next few days, I left it lying for some time. Then, one Thursday, with a sudden passion, I slammed the database into it. Then I spent a few days fixing minor errors and making the promotion video. One week of effort, and voilà, there was the MealBot.

  Q: What motivated you to help out with the HAFS Festival?
A: A week before the Festival, there was an orientation session by Mr. Song for the first and sec-ond-graders. To be honest, I wasn’t really listening until I heard him say, “All votes by the student body will be cast by sending a text to a member of the Department of Event Planning.” And I thought to myself: “What?” With a student body of about 750, and less than ten members in this Department, it wasn’t a feasible plan. Three events to vote on meant 2250 texts smashing into the 10 phones of the Department. So I thought about using MealBot to count the votes: it could do it in less than a fraction of a second. Moreover, it was a chance to publicize my product. Luckily, Mr. Song liked the idea. Though not with any difficulties, we got through with 1200 votes during the three hours of the Night Of Passion.
  Q: So what are your future plans?
A: The “Classroom Reservation System” is one I’d like to work on, along with the “GMC Pass Administration System.” But I’m super busy now so that I can’t invest as much time as before. And the whole process was more complicated that I originally conceived. But I promise you, it is coming soon. I’m going to add more features to MealBot and maybe, one day it’ll become HAFSIRI, the Siri of HAFS: a real service provider.

  Q:Anything you’d like to say to the readers?
A: If I just studied in school without having a real dream, MealBot would have never been born. I went through lots of trials and errors to discover my love for computer programming and time spent here and there has helped me become who I am now. You know, sometimes I see kids stuck in rigid systems with no real ambition, studying just to earn grades. I want to take this opportunity to tell them to try something they like. Life is a casting off! Clear your desks and do what you really want to do!


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