By Darwin Manning
Grinnell’s Application Development (AppDev) team, founded in the fall of 2011, is trying to fit the campus onto your iPhone. The group, creators of the iPhone app G-licious, has grown out of the work of the Technology Consultants program with supervisor Karen McRitchie, ITS. The group is expanding to creating a variety of apps for the iPhone and Android phones, as well as Windows phones.
The group was started a few years back by seniors who were directed by McRitchie to design an app for TC workers to be able to login for work shifts on their smartphones. However, according to David Cowden ’13, the group’s longest-running member, their initial plan ended poorly because of a lack of structure, as well as a large number of graduating students. In the fall of 2011, Cowden decided that he wanted to give the app development group another shot, so he asked for McRitchie’s support.
“I said ‘Karen, make me the leader this time and I can keep folks accountable,’ and so we did that and it worked far better,” Cowden said.
The first project the AppDev team took on was the G-licious App, which got Dick Williams, Dining Services, very excited. Williams lent the team a lot of data so the project could really expand. After a positive initial feedback, the team has expanded the app, including the addition of ratings for different dishes.
“Our G-licious service is our flagship app—we have about 450 students currently on it,” said Maijid Moujaled ’14.
Since a year ago, the team has been meeting several times a week to decide where there can be of use, based on student feedback. They are encouraging more activity from students so that they can utilize their skills in the right areas.
“When we get more feedback, we know how to direct our resources,” Moujaled said. “While this is under ITS, we are also a student [group] and so this would allow us to let people come in and join campaigns about certain things—for example, marketing.”
Their desire for student participation and interest around campus in their ventures has been adequately met. There was a lot of interest from Computer Science majors, and so they decided to branch out into two groups, one for student initiatives and the other for ITS. They originally brainstormed as a smaller nucleus for what campus might want and where they could make a large impact, but were quickly contacted by numerous groups.
“There were a lot of other great ideas—a campus events app, Twitter-style, that is done by different organizations,” Cowden said. “[A] crowdsourced system for the Facilities Management that would alert you when a washer is malfunctioning.”
They have also been contacted by some of the larger campus groups, including SPARC and SGA. In addition, they try to encourage new participants to immediately get involved. One of the group’s most recent projects is an app for KDIC, the College’s radio station.
“The KDIC app would optimize servers and keep things up more. That would make it very easy to access KDIC,” Moujaled said.
Through encouraging this high level of interaction, they hope to promote organizational continuity and longevity.
“My goal is to get people to maintain student projects. Students come in and we mentor,” Moujaled said. “We would like to make pristine, user-friendly apps that students would like to use for years into the future.”
The AppDev team is committed to the preservation and quality aspects of their ventures, and while they are comfortable with the software that they are working with, they need to find partners that compliment their strengths. That is why the group is open to feedback from all areas of the community, even those beyond the College.
“We are open to alumni and Grinnell community members,” Cowden said. “Someone wanted an app for people that have Alzheimer’s, through a finding that some images have been able to spark a memory in these folks and we are working on it.”
The AppDev team is primed for expansion—there are truly no limits to the possibilities. All are invited to attend their meetings on Thursdays from 7-8 p.m. above the Spencer Grill, or to contact either Cowden or Moujaled with ideas. Students can also email them at [appdev].