In the Cards: Ball State Thrives with Smartphone Technology


Indiana is truly blessed to have the many esteemed public institutions of higher learning that it does. Thanks to efforts from Indiana schools, men have walked on the moon, more people now survive cancer (ask Lance Armstrong) and our food is grown incredibly efficiently. But lest we not forget, the fine folks in Muncie are considered a national leader in the world of technology. Here is just one example:

Under the direction of computer science professor Paul Gestwicki students spent an entire semester developing several dozens applications for Google Android. The new smart phone operating system was launched in 2009 and quickly is proving popular with consumers as potential rival to the BlackBerry and the iPhone.

When they were done in fall 2009, 18 students with no computer programming experience had created a bird-watching program, several games, an English-to-Spanish tutoring system, math flashcards, and a Dungeons and Dragons character generator with Web-based database storage capability.

"This was an incredible experience because it opened new doors and new ways of thinking for all of us," says Travis Cawthorn, ’12, of Frankton, Indiana, majoring in accounting. "I created a game that should be fun to play with for hours. Let’s be honest, many students my age use smart phones for entertainment."

The class was part of an experimental partnership between Google and several technology-centered universities including Ball State, Harvard, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), University of Colorado, and University of Michigan.

Google provided the class with 20 G1 developer phones loaded with Google’s Android operating system and gave them access to the new App Inventor for Android, which makes it possible for users with no programming experience to create mobile applications.

And stay tuned for our September/October edition of BizVoice for my article on Ball State’s WiMAX test bed. The school’s work is helping America’s top companies perfect their wireless broadband technologies and rendering Ball State an archetype in the field.

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