Justin Gluska ’23, College of Engineering and Computer Science and a Posse Scholar, has been named a grant recipient of The Hunter Brooks Watson Memorial Fund (Hunter’s Fund). The grants reward innovation and reflect on the talents and passions that Hunter Watson brought to his life. Hunter was a rising junior at Syracuse University majoring in Information Management and Technology when he died tragically in 2016 in a distracted driving car accident. His family and friends created Hunter’s Fund to honor his legacy, and “provide support for young people who also approach life with powerful ideas.”
Hunter’s Fund is also working with colleges and universities, including Syracuse, on educational initiatives designed to end distracted driving.
Gluska was selected for his startup, Bus Point. An idea stemming from his own frustrations with catching the school bus in high school back home in Florida, Gluska originally developed a bus tracking system to streamline school transportation systems.
Gluska has earned national recognition through his passion for computer science. While in high school, he was the recipient of the Congressional App Challenge, which is the most prestigious prize awarded to a student in computer science who creates a project that benefits the community. He was also the champion of a CuseHacks’ Hackathon where he used real-time satellite and drone imaging data to send alerts to people within a specific proximity of a natural disaster to request permission for their location information to be used in emergency responses.
Reflecting on the application process, Gluska mentioned that his research into Hunter’s Fund led him to ultimately apply for the grant. After reading Hunter’s story and watching his YouTube videos, Gluska says, “Hunter’s interests in entrepreneurship, computer science, music, and the performing arts really resonated with me and who I am. Even though I’m in STEM, I try not to forget my creative side.”
Recently, Gluska decided to pivot Bus Point after analyzing competitors within the marketplace. He is exploring whether machine learning to optimize bus routes can help tackle the true problem of time and budget constraints that school districts face annually. He is also focused on how the application can create enhanced reliability and safety in school transportation. Being able to pivot is a key entrepreneurial skill, he adds. “The major step in going from idea to actuality is overcoming the stubbornness of your idea. If you don’t allow yourself to grow and learn, you put yourself into a box of failures.”
The grant from Hunter’s Fund will enable Gluska and Bus Point to develop the next stage MVP of his software as he continues to work on his product roadmap and business model.
Gluska is a student employee at the Blackstone LaunchPad at Syracuse University where he is the webmaster, and he also coaches other student startups on web development. He is an active peer mentor and is helping other student founders shape their digital presence through thoughtfully designed tech platforms.
He looks forward to competing in the upcoming RvD iPrize and the Hunter Brooks Watson of Entrepreneurship Awards, while continuing to honor the legacy of Hunter’s passion for innovation and entrepreneurship.