Google donation gives class unique, hands-on experience

Software engineering class spent quarter developing Android applications

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A. Sue Weisler

Tom Reichlmayr’s Agile Software Development class took on a creative twist spring quarter as students worked in teams to develop applications for Google’s Android mobile phones.

The applications could serve whatever purpose the students desired. Reichlmayr wasn’t sure what to expect, but he wasn’t disappointed. One group created an application called myRunr, which allows runners to measure the distance, speed and time of their run. Another application notified users when the next bus would be available at their desired campus location. The last application was for pure entertainment—a blackjack game.

“The students were really excited about doing this,” says Reichlmayr, an associate professor of software engineering. “Normally I assign a traditional classroom project in this course and it gets a little dry after a while. The students have seen enough of those. I thought this would be exciting.”

The opportunity became available because of a donation from Google, which provided Reichlmayr with 25 Motorola Droid phones that could be used in a classroom setting. The phones run on Google’s Android operating system, which is beginning to challenge Apple’s iPhone and RIM’s Blackberry for supremacy in the smart phone market.

“I was really excited when I learned we would be doing this in class,” says Brett Snare, a fourth-year software engineering student who worked on the myRunr application. “It was a great opportunity to be exposed to some of the newest technology. That’s one of the great aspects about RIT.”