Technology students develop mobile app for local nonprofit

April 29, 2014

A Wabash Valley nonprofit organization turned to Indiana State University technology students to get mobile.

We're not talking wheels - we're talking an app for Android smartphones or tablets.

Five students in Jared Wuerzburger's mobile computing projects class spent the semester developing the mobile application for United Way of the Wabash Valley.

Wuerzburger had worked with the local United Way from 2010-2012, when he was head of the student-led Sycamore Technology Solutions. He used his connection to the organization to secure a hands-on learning opportunity for his eager students.

"We met with the United Way in December to see if they would be interested in pursuing a mobile application and what they would like for it to convey," Wuerzburger said. "We agreed to design their app first before working with their other agencies."

"Mobile devices are becoming a huge part of our everyday lives," said Cody King, a senior from Horton. "We wanted something simple to use and to include buttons to their social media sites."

Before they even started, the students determined a project leader and then divided up the work based on each person's talents.

"I was the project leader so I was in charge of scheduling, communicating with the group and with our professor, and helping out wherever needed with actually designing and programming the application," said Joe Cole, a senior information technology major from Bedford.

Cole and members of his team used the Waterfall development model to come up with the requirements for the app. The students settled on seven pages, which included sections to highlight programs, volunteer opportunities, news, and links to the United Way's social media sites.

"Then we designed and programmed the app alongside a graphic designer from Sycamore Technology Solutions to make the app appealing and user friendly," Cole said.

King's main responsibly on the project was building the app. It wasn't as simple as copying text and images from the organization's website.

"Figuring out the layout, navigation and how to pull and display the information was the time-consuming part of the project," he said. "It was challenging to get the many different components - buttons, banners and images - sized so they correctly display on the many different sized screens that run the Android operating system."The College of Technology students weren't just developing their technical skills. They were learning about the importance of developing synergy when working on team projects.

"All of the members brought their own expertise to the team. So we divided the work up by what people enjoyed and were good at doing," said Daniel Groce, a senior information technology major from New Castle. Overall, the division of work worked out perfectly."

Groce wrote HTML code for some of the pages.

"I had not written in HTML for three years so one of the younger guys had to give me a refresher course on it."

Of the five students, only Groce was familiar with United Way and its services.

"I worked for a company that supplies them with technical support," he said.

Trey Holland, sophomore information technology major from Peru, assisted with the design and layout by creating some of the pages.

"We laid out the pages that we determined, and then did some research on their web site to find additional information to include in the app," Holland said. "We linked up the pages of their web site in the app."

The students included a feature on the app perfect for today's nonstop mobile world.

"The mobile app features a donate now button which allows people to contribute to the United Way straight from their device," said Erik Watjen, a senior information technology major from Vincennes.

Once a prototype was ready, the students brought in United Way representatives to guide them through the app and receive their feedback and suggestions.

"The students did a really nice job," said Mark Johnson, Community Impact Director for the United Way of the Wabash Valley. "The look is very neat."

After fixing a few bugs related to how items displayed in the app and adding a page talking about the issues the local United Way agency is addressing, the app is one step closer to becoming reality.

"The app should be available on Google Play for download this summer," Wuerzburger said. "Then we can begin work on the development of a couple of new apps for other organizations."

 

 

Contact: Jared Wuerzburger, College of Technology, Jared.Wuerzburger@indstate.edu  

Writer: Paula Meyer, ISU Communications and Marketing, 812-237-3783 or paula.meyer@indstate.edu