Class teaches students to create iPhone and iPad apps

| Staff Reporter
App Screenshots Courtesy Of WUSTL

Meters, an iPhone app developed by junior Connor Graham, allows users to keep track of their rowing workouts and monitor their progress.

The birth of the iPhone has revolutionized the way people interact with the world. The invention brought with it a new market for iPhone applications, spurring the start of new businesses across the nation.

At Washington University, a class at the School of Engineering called Software Engineering Workshop (CSE 436S) is teaching students how to create iPhone applications, as well as applications for the new iPad, a digital tablet that was released by Apple on April 3.

The class is taught by Todd Sproull, who received his doctorate in Computer Engineering from Washington University’s School of Engineering in 2009. Sproull spent his last year teaching Logic and Discrete Mathematics (CSE 240), and began teaching Software Engineering in fall 2009.

Since iPhone applications can also be run on the iPad, the new device was relatively easy for Sproull to incorporate into the class: He only needed to add one lecture to introduce the new device.

An exciting new addition, however, is the School of Engineering’s plan to purchase and provide iPads for students to use in class.

According to junior Andrew Shaw, Sproull’s teaching assistant, students were limited by the lack of devices in class. Shaw was excited and surprised to hear that iPads will be purchased for students to use.

The class is set up to teach students basic skills and concepts before letting them create whatever application they desire.

“We have four labs… that teach students basic concepts,” Sproull said. “At the end, they will [make] a single app with two or three other people.”

The class has been popular among students.

“I think it’s a great class, and I’m definitely interested in it,” freshman Adam Tsao said. “iPhone and iPad applications are a next generation type of thing. A lot of different companies, not just Apple, are optimizing on this app feature… allowing students to tap into this new market is a great experience for Wash. U. students.”

So far, students have come up with several applications, including Ergonomic logbook, a logbook for crew team members to keep track of their workouts online; Mini Student Life, which displays Wash. U.’s student newspaper in an easily readable format; Personal Trainer, which allows personal trainers to design and keep track of their clients’ workouts; Can you Flickr me here?, which finds pictures online that were taken at the user’s current location; and Crisper, which keeps track of which groceries are going bad in a fridge, since more than a third of the groceries Americans buy are thrown away because they go bad.

According to Sproull, 20 students were accepted into the class in the fall of 2009, while 25 were added to the waitlist. This semester, 45 students were accommodated into the class.

  • Richard Jesse Markel

    I think this is a really fascinating article however it’s lacking one important bit of information. When I read of the “Mini Student Life,” application, I immediately decided that I WANT THAT APP! The article is lacking in more detail as to what’s become of the class’ creations. While it’s important to focus on the course at WashU, the achievements of the students ought to be equally discussed. I want to try these apps made by my peers! How can I do this?

    ~Richard Jesse Markel