April 25, 2012

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U of U School of Computing Shows Off Student Apps

Heather Stewart

April 25, 2012

On Tuesday, students in an iPad programming class at the University of Utah demonstrated apps ranging from a program to track pushups to an app that allows car salespeople to access trade-in information in the palms of their hands. Mobile Application Demo Day let the public—including potential employers—get a first-hand look at the computing talent at the university.

Jeremy Assayah, software engineer and iOS expert at Software Technology Group, said he was impressed with the technical skill exhibited by the students. “Some of [the apps] may not look as polished, but I can tell how complex they really are,” he said.

“Apps have really captured the imagination of our whole generation,” said instructor Lorenzo Swank, a teaching fellow who is also a partner at Pixio Software. “People hope to hit the jackpot with something big, like Angry Birds…or Instagram.”

Several of the student apps are already available in the App Store, including an app called Math MPK, which provides math tutoring and exercises for students with attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder.

Student Michael Daniels partnered with a graphic designer and a student finishing a degree in special education to develop the app. Based on math curriculum for special needs children, the app helps tutors, instructors or parents track a child’s progress on math problems.

Other apps included a wedding planning tool, a program that can help users build new habits or remember tasks, and an app that pulls from several NASA databases from the Earth Observatory to create graphical displays of the data.

Swank says the ability to create apps is now essential for computing students. “This field is just growing tremendously.”


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