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April 8, 2010
Say you're a new visitor to the Northwest campus and you aren't sure where to find Phillips Hall. Or you're not sure where to find the history department. Or you want to know when the B.D. Owens Library was built. A group of Northwest graduate students are working on an app for that.
Using the Northwest iPhone application, which the students began working on last fall, campus visitors will be able to view an interactive campus map, get directions to buildings and take an audio tour of the Northwest campus.
The two-semester project is one of the requirements for applied computer science graduate students. Dr. Dean Sanders, professor of computer science/information systems, is the project client, and Dr. Michael Rogers, assistant professor of computer science/information systems, is the project mentor.
"I had this idea over a year ago, so when I was looking for projects for this year, I said 'Now here's something that I'd like to see,'" Sanders said.
Users will be able to access the application by clicking a Northwest logo on their home screens. From there, a pin will indicate the user's location on the campus map and move as the user travels.
Users can conduct searches for buildings, departments and sites of interest. They can click on a building to see a picture of it and read - or hear an audio description - about its history. The application also will have zoom capabilities and slideshows. With the compass feature, users can point to a building to identify it and access information about it.
The students knew little about the iPhone when they were assigned the project. They had to design the application from scratch by writing the algorithm and using simulation software. The students also learned how to design parts of the application by watching videos on YouTube.
"When we were starting, we were not familiar with the language we were using," said Thejasvi Manyam, a graduate student from Hyderabad, India. "We were completely blind to the project, and we grabbed some requirements from the user."
Other team members building the application are Laitha Praneetha Bhogaraju, Rabbani Burhanuddin, Zahid Ali Mohammed and Mohammad Nabil Shaik. The students are working toward graduating in April with master's degrees in applied computer science and will upload the application to the iPhone when it is finished later this month.
"They've had no formal training in this. They have to learn a new technology," said Rogers, who is in his first year teaching at Northwest and has taught independent studies focused on iPhone applications.