Students design apps to improve everyday life


CW/ Carter Eike

Shahriyar Emami, Staff Reporter

Since last semester, computer science students, Logan Jordan and Bailey Gulsby, have been working on an app. Jordan said he cannot elaborate on the details of his app until the team comes up with a final product. However, the production of the app is University-sponsored as Jordan and Gulsby use the UA Alabama Innovation and Mentoring of Entrepreneurs Center (AIME) resources.

Because Jordan and Gulsby have been friends since freshman year, Jordan said there is a good dynamic among the team.

“It’s really crucial to divide up work like any school project,” Jordan said. “You’ve got to define how you’re dividing up your work and what your responsibilities are.”

Computer science attracted Jordan because of his affinity for problem-solving. It’s also a field that grants him a lot of creative freedom.

“Just what you can do with computers is a lot different than what you can do with even physical materials,” Jordan said.

Jordan has been working at AIME since the fall of 2018. AIME is the University’s technology commercialization center and it has been a part of the University since 2004.

“AIME helps transform inventions into products that benefit society,” according to the UA Research and Economic Development website. “From developing an idea, creating a prototype, and launching a company, AIME personnel will work alongside you to turn your idea into a product.”

Dan Daly, director of AIME, said the center is an Innovation Corps, or I-Corps, site.

“The I-Corps is when you have a business idea and you verify that idea by talking to potential customers,” Daly said.

As an I-Corps site, training is campus focused and is sponsored by the National Science Foundation.

“AIME is called the Innovation and Mentoring of Entrepreneurs, and that’s what we’re trying to do,” Daly said.

For Daly, students having app designing experience while in school is important.

“They’re given a responsibility to build something that will be useful for their customers,” Daly said.

The customers of Jordan and Gulsby’s app are the faculty and staff of the University. Jeff Gray, a UA computer science professor, said companies have smartphone app needs. One of Gray’s courses, Senior Capstone Design Experience, focuses on working in a team to design an app.

“Almost every week I get a request from someone on campus or someone in the community who needs a smartphone app,” Gray said. “They reach out to computer science because we’re the group that can do it the quickest. Sometimes I don’t think people realize how much time it takes.”

While Gray’s course of 48 students designing 12 individual phone apps is independent of AIME, he said he gets frequent app requests from campus organizations. Gray’s course is required for computer science students.

“It helps computer science students really get that experience,” Gray said.

Jordan said constant maintenance is involved to make sure the app runs as well as possible.

“We’re still working on getting some bugs worked out,” Jordan said. “So we’re really not sure of a timeline yet.”

However, Jordan said the app is confirmed to be available to iOS devices first.

“Having a student job like this where you can find something on campus that works with your major or what you want to do is a really great opportunity,” Jordan said. “You don’t necessarily need to get an internship to get the experience you might want.”