SMU Lyle Student Wins Big iDeas contest for innovative, generative-AI-enabled app

The SMU Lyle computer science student created Cubed, a personalized platform that uses AI to improve user experience

Rohit Patnala, Sophomore at SMU Lyle

Imagine a digital tool that combines all your creative interests into one hub – including styles, music, fashion, art, and more – and uses generative AI to develop your own personalized brand.

“Think of it as a refined version Pinterest, but shaped by user input, offering a holistic multimedia platform,” said Rohit Patnala, a sophomore studying computer science at SMU Lyle School of Engineering.

Meet Cubed, a new innovative multimedia discovery platform fusing creativity and technology designed to provide personalized inspiration and resources across diverse forms of content. Patnala, founder of Cubed, recently won the 2023 Big iDeas Pitch Contest – a program hosted by SMU every year that presents pitch competitions and provides training and coaching for entrepreneurial projects. Patnala was one of 13 student teams to win funding at the Pitch Contest and intends to use his prize to begin work on coding and a physical prototype of Cubed.

An avid lover of music, fashion, style, and art design, Patnala developed his idea for Cubed with young innovators like him in mind. Patnala says he’s always enjoyed creating different mediums of art such as film photography, shooting and directing music videos, and music.  

The practice of starting young led me to the idea of Cubed, a direct medium for all things creative and artistic which produces instant curation for the user,” Patnala said. “I am always looking to continuously improve, asking myself how I can do it differently from the time before.”

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Patnala’s Big iDeas win. Photo by SMU student Kailyn Sawhny 


He hopes Cubed will expand digital and artistic parameters for users. The digital tool is designed to take a unique approach to user recommendation. Various forms of mixed media content will be curated for the user, housing their favorite interests. 

“It is meant to curate something personalized just for the user,” Patnala said.

Patnala became inspired by his work in computer science and data analytics. He credits his Big iDeas win to the experiences and education he has received at SMU Lyle. With small class sizes and one-on-one mentoring, students are given opportunities to grow and succeed.

“I love that SMU and specifically Lyle provides a more intimate experience with my classes and professors,” he said. “I am able to focus on my passion while doing my class work.”

Students are also encouraged to venture outside of their engineering and computer science majors to explore other realms that may enhance their expertise. SMU Lyle students are known to balance many multidimensional extracurriculars along with their degree plans.

“I am thankful that I was able to leverage the pursuit of my degree and the experience I’m gaining at Lyle with my creative pursuits to develop this idea into a reality,” he said. “Being a computer science major has played a huge role in creating Cubed. Thinking critically and analytically such as in coding, consolidates all my past experiences with what I am learning now.”

For now, the idea has been mapped out in the front-end development platform Figma. He has recently partnered up with Armin Charkhkar, a fellow Computer Science major at SMU Lyle to help him begin the process.

“It was simply a divine timing moment when I saw the Big iDeas flyer a week before the contest,” Patnala said. “And now fortunately enough I can bring this vision into fruition. I am really working on the creative and art direction for this app’s identity as well as creating a movement for how to get people involved.”


About the Bobby B. Lyle School of Engineering 

SMU’s Lyle School of Engineering thrives on innovation that transcends traditional boundaries. We strongly believe in the power of externally funded, industry-supported research to drive progress and provide exceptional students with valuable industry insights. Our mission is to lead the way in digital transformation within engineering education, all while ensuring that every student graduates as a confident leader. Founded in 1925, SMU Lyle is one of the oldest engineering schools in the Southwest, offering undergraduate and graduate programs, including master’s and doctoral degrees.


About SMU 

SMU is the nationally ranked global research university in the dynamic city of Dallas. SMU’s alumni, faculty and nearly 12,000 students in eight degree-granting schools demonstrate an entrepreneurial spirit as they lead change in their professions, community and the world.