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Bring us your App ideas!

By Ric Telford


Mobile software is all around us and has become an important part of our lives.  According to StatCounter, Internet usage from mobile devices now surpasses that of PCs.  It is not surprising therefore that stackoverflow listed iOS and Android as 2 of the top 3 development skills in high demand.


In the Fall of 2015, the Pratt School of Engineering introduced a graduate-level 590 class, “Mobile App Programming.”  The course filled up on the first day of registration and 3 sections later it is still that way.  The course was given a permanent class code for the Fall of 2017, and is now known as ECE 564.  Students get an accelerated education of programming in Swift and iOS for Apple devices in the first half of the semester.  The second half of the semester is devoted to more advanced concepts and the development of a team project.  The class is project-based, so across the 3 sections taught thus far, there have been 30 apps developed by the 3-person student teams.


Project ideas are gathered from across the Duke community and sometimes outside of Duke.  Students can pick from a list of these solicited project ideas, or they can propose their own project (which needs to be approved by me).  This has resulted in quite a wide array of apps created in the class.  Here are a few examples:

  • There have been 6 proof-of-concept apps delivered to assist local start-up companies with their early app development, including DUhatch-graduates FarmShots and Voyij.
  • 2 apps were developed in conjunction with the Duke School of Medicine, including an app to assist in the treatment of obesity.
  • 2 games have been developed, including Dodge the Potholes, which is still on the colab appstore for download.
  • At least 10 apps were developed to provide services to different parts of the Duke community. One app provides walking directions to any room in the Fitzpatrick Center.  The Fava app allows students to trade favors.  Peer Konnect helps match student tutors to those needing help.  Finally, the Duke Sakai app provides an iOS-native app implementation of the key Sakai functions.

Several of these apps are still available for download if you want to check them out at appstore.colab.duke.edu.

With the Fall semester upon us, it is time to start collecting project ideas for the Fall cohort.  We are open to any interesting ideas, even if it is not something with a clear path to the App Store.  It is more about giving the students something challenging and unique to work on and delivering something that is a viable app.


If you have an app you would like developed, please let me know!  The best way to start is with an email to ric.telford@duke.edu.  From there I will follow-up with you to see if your project is a good match for our class.


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