App Factory on the Map

Published: December 5, 2014
The answer to the age-old question, "I wonder when the next bus is coming?" will be a snap for Kenosha Area Transit (KAT) riders with a smartphone thanks to the University of Wisconsin-Parkside App Factory.
Parkside computer science students and faculty, working in conjunction with KAT, developed a mobile app for Android and iPhone platforms that lets riders know when the next bus is coming. 

The current version of the app enables riders to tap into the KAT schedule, enter their current location, and view the schedule. In addition to taking some of the stress out of the bus-riding experience, the app should free up time for KAT staff. According to UW-Parkside Assistant Professor of Computer Science Derek Riley, KAT receives hundreds of phone calls each day with the same question: "When is the next bus coming." 

The App Factory is all about matching concepts with projects. "This is interdisciplinary," Riley said. "Yeah, we have a lot of computer science students because there is a lot of software development going on, but we also have business students working on marketing aspects, and art students working on concept art." 

The idea for the App Factory came from the mobile development certificate offered through the Computer Science Department. According to Riley, the certificate is the first of its kind in the Midwest. "We realized there is a demand out there for people who have strong mobile-development skills, and we had a lot of interest from our students," Riley said. 

In junior- and senior-level software-engineering classes taught by Riley, students work with real clients on real projects. The challenge was timing. There will always be a gap between the time a class in one semester ends and another begins. During the gap, the need for software support on the part of the client doesn't go away. 

"The idea of the App Factory is to fill those gaps," Riley said. 

Friday, Dec. 4, community members, business partners, and elected officials, along with UW-Parkside faculty, staff and students gathered in Molinaro Hall to officially launch the App Factory.

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