Mad Skills

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Coles College center attracts students to mobile app development Computer science student Keya…

Georgia (May 19, 2014)

Coles College center attracts students to mobile app development

Computer science student Keya Karimian is going MAD. And he’s quite happy about it.

MAD – short for mobile application development – skills are helping students like Karimian land lucrative jobs creating mobile applications, or apps, for companies. In fact, he has already added Verizon Wireless, Shaw Industries and an HR resource company to his resume.

But Karimian, a senior, is convinced that he would not have landed those paid internships without the skills he learned while working in Kennesaw State’s Mobile Application Development (MAD) Center.

The recently created MAD Center, housed in the Michael J. Coles College of Business, is attracting students who want to learn all aspects of software development for mobile applications. Students learn more than just computer programming and how to write code. They learn to work on a development team, create an app in a short timeframe, and follow through on testing and implementation.

The MAD Center includes the MAD Lab, where students are creating mobile applications; a group working on Mobility Index, a gauge used to indicate the friendliness of a city’s mobile ecosystem; a summer camp for middle schoolers; and an app competition for high schoolers. The MAD Center also provides a training course for entrepreneurs and created an M-Health division to bring awareness to the need for mobile application in the health care sector.

From the beginning

The creation of a mobile app begins as an idea from a client, with MAD Lab consultants providing the architecture of the mobile application, explained Solomon Negash, executive director of the Mobile Application Development Center. The architecture is the basis for the structure and interface of the app. It contains the functions that the client wants or needs, and then students begin the development process.

A typical project in the MAD Lab has a five-member team, with two developers and three students. Apps are created in one of the major mobile development platforms: Android, iOS (Apple), WindowsPhone7 or web services.

“We propose the architecture, then analyze and create its function during the development,” Negash said. The rollout of a new application does take some time, even after development, testing and client approvals are complete, he added.

Karimian was one of the first students to join the Lab in January 2012. He served on the team that created the Coles College app for the Android platform, and he quickly moved to Android Team leader.

“I learned so much in the Lab. Not just programming, but how to network with people, especially top business people,” he said.

The Center’s director brings community leaders and business professionals to the MAD Center frequently to allow students opportunities to interact and network with business leaders while creating awareness about the Center’s value.

MAD opportunities

“Most of our students, about 99 percent, come here with little or no development experience,” Negash said. “After a couple of semesters, most of them get internships.” Students at the MAD Lab gain valuable experience on an actual project, sharpening their technology skills and acquiring new ones. Many companies hunt for tech-savvy employees, like Karimian, to build their mobile applications. And that mobile app expertise is giving students definite advantage over their peers.

“Every employer loves to acquire someone that has experience in a leadership position,” said Karimian. “So when they see that (Android Team Leader) on my resume, it gives me an advantage over other candidates that are just coming out of college with no leadership experience.”

Negash said that many of the MAD Lab students are often snatched away.

“We are our own enemy,” Negash said. He even calls it ‘bittersweet’ that the students who train in app development at the Lab quickly move on to internships or jobs using the very expertise they learned in the MAD Lab. He has watched students move from his small enterprise center to major corporations, like Verizon, AirWatch and Home Depot.

“But this is what it is all about,” said Negash, grinning.

Exploring the possibilities

Arialdis Japa, 22, is a computer science student who joined the lab in summer 2013. He is testing a website that will launch a new mobile app for student study sessions and has been training students in the app’s use.

Saori Otsuka, a graphic design major, created a website and brochure for the Center’s mobile application development summer camp for middle schoolers, while Fola Oso, a computer science student, is working to refine curriculum to use with GameSalad, the game design platform used by the middle school campers to create their apps.

Otsuka learned how to code the website she creatively designed, which helped her understand the entire process of mobile web development.

“This field is so much in demand, and, in the future, there will be less in print,” said Otsuka, who joined the center in Spring 2013. “There are so many possibilities. Every company needs a mobile website.”

For now, 18 students are working on projects at the Center, but that changes each semester, Negash said. He requires students to commit to a 16-week stint and outline exactly how much time they can give to the MAD Center each week, which helps him to pinpoint the best use of the student’s time and expertise.

Students who come to work at the MAD Center often major in computer science, information security and assurance, information systems and graphic design but Negash hopes to attract those in marketing, management and communications in the future.

 

-- Tiffany Capuano


 

A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers more than 150 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its approximately 41,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia and the third-largest university in the state. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the region and from 92 countries across the globe. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status, and one of the 50 largest public institutions in the country. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu

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