Want your news to come to your phone? Pick an app. Want to convert phone numbers to words so you can remember them? Try the Wordify app. Want to obliterate some blueberries, break things using furious fowl or design workouts and diets that will help you achieve your fitness goals? Fruit Ninja, Angry Birds and Nike Training Club — app, app and app.
Since the beginning of their existence, humans have thought, worked, used tools and solved problems. As humanity has advanced, so have the tools we rely on to make life easier. Application software, commonly known as apps, are modern-day tools people use to accomplish specific tasks usually via their mobile devices. The better the idea, design and implementation, the more successful it will be. College campuses like Capital University are hubs of ideas, creativity and innovation, so Microsoft Corporation brought a pilot program to campus recently to tap into that energy.
Capital hosted partners from Microsoft for Generation App, a day of exploring and app-creating for Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8. Attendees worked one-on-one and in groups with developers to create and submit apps for free to the Windows 8 Store for a chance to win a coding session, tour of Microsoft Studios and a sneak peek of an upcoming Microsoft game.
Brian Prince (’95), principal cloud evangelist for Microsoft, led the daylong event that introduced students to the cloud-based development environment, gave them free access to tools needed to create and submit their app, and worked with them to troubleshoot. The goal: make app development for students worldwide easy, free and accessible.
First-year student Grace Glore, a double major in marketing and leadership, doesn't think of herself as especially technologically inclined. But she recognizes the need to understand and leverage modern-day communication and marketing tools that are essential components of commerce. So she took advantage of the opportunity.
"As freshmen, we take a lot of classes where we learn to write in code — we learn to write in code for Excel, for example. So I saw this as just another environment in which I need to learn to communicate," Glore said.
Edsha Burton, a junior marketing major, rearranged her work schedule to attend when she considered how she and her resume would benefit from the experience. And accounting and financial economics major Anthony Macione chose to participate because the event was free, new and a productive way to spend the day.
After about an hour’s worth of Windows 8 Bootcamp, students began translating their ideas into applications. Aliens were given their marching orders for where to go and who to attack. Bubbles were told what color to be, when to pop, when to bounce, and at what angle. Metrics were converted, layout adjusted and friction calculated through boxes within boxes of code.
By day's end, there were breakthroughs. Stumbling blocks had been overcome and new ideas were forming. About a dozen apps were submitted, among them a "mood multiplier" app that inspires people with relevant quotes, a physics homework app, game apps for Xbox, and an app that tracks the highest stock market gains.
"Creating my own app made me realize and appreciate all the work that goes into developing these things I use every day," Macione said.
Students from a mix of majors accepted the challenge, including computer science, music technology, marketing, leadership, accounting and financial economics. It's that kind of cross-disciplinary approach to learning and problem solving that companies like Microsoft look for in interns and new employees.
"I’m a product of Capital, and I’m a big believer in the broad foundation it provides. I always tell people I talk to that if you can learn how to think, find your passion, adapt to new environments and solve problems, you can go wherever careers go in the future,” Prince said. “The technology I work with now didn't exist when I graduated, and the same will be true for today's students. But when you have a broad-based understanding of how things work and fit together you can be more creative. You have more tools to solve problems when you have a broad exposure in your education.”
In the coming weeks, Microsoft engineers and designers will reach out to Capital's novice developers and give them tips on how to improve their newest creations and those they have in the works, about internships and job opportunities.
Meanwhile, Prince will incorporate students' feedback to make Generation App even better before rolling it out to colleges and universities around the world.
Contact: Nichole Johnson