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Developing Software for A Post-PC World

Mount Computer Science students explain their apps

Mount students create Latin, prayer book, and Mount Café apps

Making flashcards to study for his Latin quiz was a bit cumbersome for Mount senior John Martin, so he decided to build an iPhone app with a Latin dictionary, flash cards, and a Latin grammar reference guide — the perfect tool for the Latin student on the go. 

This fall, Martin, and eight other students in Dr. Fred Portier’s Computer Science 498: Senior Project course researched and learned a whole new technology to develop their very own apps for mobile devices.

App students in class

The developing apps class was student-inspired and student taught, with Portier functioning as the coordinator, technical resource and evaluator. Each of the nine students in the class gave presentations on a wide variety of topics to teach each other the new technology. Four students chose to develop iPhone apps and the other five chose to develop apps for the Android platform.

Senior Julian Ptak built an app that is a handbook of prayers for the Society of the Sacred Heart.  Society members can access the app to read the prayers they say every morning and night.

Ptak said building the app was very challenging.

“Most of the actual coding was very research heavy,” Ptak said. “I would sit for hours and I’d say to myself: ‘how do I do this? Let me look it up.’ I'd find a solution, implement it, and sometimes it would cause a problem. It took hours and hours of research. It wasn't easy and definitely an experience.”

Portier said the students relied on each other for help through the struggles.

“There was a little bit of friendly competition as they worked to produce a better app then their peers,” Portier said.

Senior Luis Beltran created the iASL Book app to teach users American Sign Language (ASL).  “Sometimes situations arise in which individuals cannot communicate with the deaf and hard of hearing,” Luis said. “We are proud to have developed iASL Book.”

Another app might prove very useful to members of the Mount community in the near future.   Mount senior Michael Mungo developed an app to order food from the Mount Café. Its basic functions include allowing customers to read the menu on the smartphone, and place an order — allowing users to then receive their order from the Café without waiting. Mungo says in later versions, the app will be able to notify customers when their order is ready in order to reduce the noise in the Café from cashiers calling out order numbers. 

The student-developed apps are beneficial to the community, and the process offered the students valuable experience.

“Developing this application has helped me become a better computer scientist,” said Beltran.  “Mobile development is a rapidly growing field and this experience could eventually help me land a job.” 

For more information, check out the the Mount’s Computer Science program.

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