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APSU opens new Mobile Technology Center for app development

8/8/2011

Since fall of 2010, Austin Peay State University has made strides in mobile technology development.

Last August, APSU released its iPhone app for faculty and students. Months later, that app was reincarnated for the Android. Then in the Spring 2011 semester, the University’s Department of Computer Science and Information Technology was one of the first computer departments in Tennessee to offer a mobile software development class.

On top of those developments, the APSU Geographic Information System (GIS) Center began creating the Disaster Mitigation and Recovery Kit (DMARK) to enable emergency responders to record damage assessments on their cell phones.

In a short period of time, these projects have positioned APSU as a hub of mobile technology development, especially as other APSU departments and outside organizations are increasingly seeking assistance in developing mobile apps for smartphones and tablets. That’s why APSU has created the new Mobile Technology Center (MTC).

About a month old, the MTC is a partnership between the GIS Center, APSU Department of Computer Science and Information Technology, and the Office of Information Technology, capitalizing on the skills and resources of these groups to support the interest in mobile technology.

“The goal is to have one point of contact within APSU when you want to do something mobile related,” said Dr. John Nicholson, assistant professor of computer science and information technology who also serves as the MTC’s new director.

Mike Wilson, manager of the GIS Center, said the need to organize the new MTC was realized during the creation of the DMARK app, a project that involved his office and the University’s IT department.

“Many were calling the GIS Center or the IT department because there was collaboration between our offices on some projects outside of DMARK,” he said. “We are taking DMARK a step further by using it as a springboard to develop other collaborations under one unit.”

Nicholson said the center is developing and testing both device-specific apps and mobile-enabled websites as well as working with other forms of mobile technology. Initially, Android and iOS will be the primary target operating systems, but other systems will be evaluated as well.

Much of the basic creative process during mobile app development will be handled by APSU students from a variety of academic backgrounds.

“This needs to be focused on student success,” Wilson said. “It won’t be just for computer science or GIS students. We’re hoping to bring in students from various disciplines. We will need students skilled in writing and some focused on graphic design.”

The students will be able to generate “concrete examples of real work to show potential employers,” Nicholson said.

The MTC is supported by grant funding for the next couple of years, with the goal to make the new venture self-supporting through other grants, business and government contracts, donations of equipment and other contributions.

The MTC also has launched a new website, http://mobiletech.apsu.edu.

For more information about APSU’s new Mobile Technology Center, call the center at 931-221-7501. -- Melony Shemberger