App Development Club unifies students and ideas

Kendall Jordan, Practicum Contributor

If you’ve ever said “there ought to be an app for that” and wanted to know how it could be developed, a club at Oregon State University is waiting to meet you.

OSU’s App Development Club is where students come together to discuss, analyze and create apps for iOS, Android, web and just about any other conceivable platform. It has been operating since 2013, but club leaders are anxious to expand their reach. 

Rob Mac, a junior majoring in computer science and psychology as well as the club’s vice president, said the group is dedicated to creating a light-hearted atmosphere for geeking out with students interested in all phases of developing apps.

While many club members are studying  computer science and related majors, all students are welcome and no experience is necessary, just interest.

Club President Connor Christensen, a senior studying computer science, says the club does not travel to competitions, but for those who love apps or related technology, there can be no better place to hang out.

“The main goal for the club in the past was to be a workshop space,” Christensen said. “Since I have been president it’s been my personal mission to be a form of support that I wish I had when I started.”

Christensen said that app enthusiasts might believe they cannot develop an app and don’t have the expertise. The club is a place where they can learn from others who might have the technical ability. Club members bring many different skills to the table. 

“Our last president developed the Corvallis Bus App and is now working as an engineer at Microsoft,” Christensen said.

The Bus App provides real time information on bus routes, stops and arrivals in the Corvallis area.

Christensen said that the previous president’s experience was iOS development, but the club has a wide range of knowledge on various different platforms between all of them.

“We have expanded our definition of what the app development club supports. Depending on the skills and needs of our members,” Christensen said. “Web development is a new focus for the club. We want to be inclusive regardless of the operating system.”

According to Christensen, if club leaders do not have specific skills that members need they are happy to go through the learning process with them. 

His concept of the club is that it is a collaborative makerspace. 

“We alternate between showing off our own projects, asking for help and having informal presentations to share what we know,” Mac said.

Mac’s specialty is JavaScript, but he indicated that club gatherings aren’t all tech related. 

“Our conversations often drift over recent events or cool new tools that were just released or just discovered,” Mac said. “Our goal is to encourage everyone to learn and practice outside of class because that’s where the practical experiences are hiding.”

Brennan Douglas, a junior physics and computer science double major, is club treasurer. He joined the club to get inspiration for his personal projects and to meet fellow students with similar interests. His favorite characteristic of the club is the open atmosphere when members discuss ideas and answer questions. 

“We are a friendly and close-knit group of people,” Douglas said. “We are thrilled to accept anyone new into our circle and will speak freely with you as soon as you arrive.”

Douglas said the club’s most interesting activity is creating a game for Android devices.

“It was called Paths and it was a tilt-based game where you balance an object on a moving line for as long as you can,” Douglas said. “It has gone all the way through production, posting it to the Google play store.”

Graham Barber, sophomore, outreach coordinator and club webmaster, said the club has been a great venue for testing and sharing his project. In an application he calls Knife is a game-jam management application that is still in very early development. 

“To me, app development encompasses the development of practically any software. These days the word ‘app’ isn’t restricted to smartphones,” Barber said. “With the adaptation of new web technologies, most of the websites that we interact with are considered applications as well. App development itself is so prominent that I think all computer science students need to have an understanding that whenever you’re writing software in the real world, you’re probably doing app development.”

Anyone interested in joining the club can check out its website or email [email protected]. The club meets at 6 p.m. in Kelley Engineering Center 1007 on Wednesdays.

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