First-year computing students impress at app showcase

It was a busy term for first-year BCIT Computing Systems Technology (CST) Diploma students, who impressed the audience with their final projects at the app showcase last week. The term projects were inspired by Metro Vancouver campaigns to reduce food and water waste, and launched by a visit from Metro staff Alison Schatz and Kris Etches at the end of April.

Product development over a short period

Over a period of five weeks, 38 teams developed mobile web applications to address a niche problem related to a “real-world” sustainability concern, while using agile project management processes. Carly Orr, project lead instructor, believes that what the students have experienced and learned has prepared them well for future projects.

The presentation sessions were followed by open interaction time where guests could try out the apps and chat with their creators. Computing faculty member Arron Ferguson says the many media-rich interactive applications the students delivered are of a calibre one would not expect from first-year students. Chris Thompson agrees. “The results have been astonishing, and I am just so very proud of how hard they have all worked.”

Group collaboration makes it possible

Students voted for the best projects, and the morning winner was Memento. This app allows users to plan local and environmentally-friendly events for special occasions, as an alternative to buying gifts that end up in landfills.

The afternoon winner in the same category was Just Perfect, a meal-planning platform that allows users to sign in, complete a one-time food preference survey, compile a shopping list, keep note of calories and cost, and search for favourite recipes.

“We wanted to make something for people who don’t have a lot of time, like students and working professionals. We also wanted to build an app we could use ourselves,” said Just Perfect group member, Antonio Cao Shen. He shares that as first-year CST students with limited skills – both in programming and time management – the project seemed impossible on day one. However, over time, the group collaboration made what seemed impossible, possible.

Other popular projects included Sharefood, a platform that minimizes food waste by allowing users to share edible food, and Splash Works, an engaging and fully functional multi-level game which teaches kids why they should care about water conservation. Since app functionality isn’t always limited to one use, students noted that Sharefood could be easily converted to a dating site!

According to Trevor Lord, CST Program Head, the projects which mirror what happens in BC’s tech industry can become a really important part of a student’s portfolio, and help many co-op students to land excellent work placements.

Take a look at the photos from the morning session.

Thanks to Marieke van Rooyen for this article. Photo credit: Scott McAlpine

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