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Smart Phone App Development: A Multi-College Approach

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

Case Studies in Entrepreneurship

Tagged Division

Entrepreneurship & Engineering Innovation

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.1070.1 - 23.1070.14



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Paper Authors


Ravi T. Shankar Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, FL

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Ravi Shankar is a professor in the computer and electrical engineering and computer science (CEECS) department in the college of engineering and computer science (COECS) at Florida Atlantic University (FAU), Boca Raton, FL. He is the director of a college-wide center on systems integration. He has a PhD from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI, and an MBA from FAU. He is a registered Professional Engineer in the State of FL, a Senior member of IEEE, and a Fellow of the American Heart Association. Email: Phone: (561) 297-3470

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Francis Xavier McAfee Florida Atlantic University

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In 1991, Francis X. McAfee joined the newly established Florida Center for Electronic Communication which was created to demonstrate communications technology and digital media production techniques. As Associate Director of the CEC in 1998, he supervised all aspects of digital video production and 3D computer visualization projects. His grant funded projects included collaborations with Florida International University's International Hurricane Research Center, the Centre for the Arts at Mizner Park, and archaeological visualization of soon to be lost ancient tombs in Sicily. His recent computer animated vision of clean energy technologies under development by FAU's Ocean Engineering department played a key role in landing the new Center for Ocean Energy Technology. As a professional 3D designer, animator, and artist, he employs high-end computer animation software applications to create short-subject films and videos. He has won numerous awards and international recognition for his work.

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Michael S Harris Florida Atlantic University


Ravi S Behara Florida Atlantic University

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Dr. Ravi S. Behara is an Associate Professor in the Department of Information Technology & Operations Management in the College of Business at Florida Atlantic University. His current research interests include health care operations and service analytics. He has published a variety of articles on service operations in academic journals including International Journal of Operations and Production Management and International Journal of Production Economics and in research books such as Handbooks in Information Systems and Advances in Patient Safety. He is currently co-PI in a NSF-Industry jointly funded two-year Design of Medical Information Systems project, and is also the Master-Teacher at the College of Business. Dr. Behara’s consulting assignments include the creation of a new service development methodology for a large US financial services organization. He also worked as an electrical engineer in the construction of large multi-national power plants projects in India and Saudi Arabia. Dr. Behara holds a Ph.D. in service operations management from Manchester Metropolitan University, U.K., and a B.E. in electrical engineering from The Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, India.

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Smart Phone App Development: A Multi-College ApproachIntroduction: Smart Phone App development is exciting and timely, with potential for jobs andrevenue. Real world successful App teams bring together professionals in arts, engineering,business, etc., to create elegant and user-friendly engineering marvels. Over the past three years,we have worked towards creating a microcosm of this at our university. State-of-the-art courseson this topic have been offered in three colleges, synergistically & concurrently, with the aim toteam up faculty members & students from various colleges to work together towards this ideal.Background: Apple and Google have championed the seamless integration of functionality (anengineering focus) with aesthetics, user-friendliness, relevance, and empathy. It was ourobjective to develop project oriented courses that integrated these aspects at the university level.However, there are two types of variability that matter: (1) even within a college of engineering,it is difficult to institute multi-disciplinary efforts – the skill set and backgrounds of the studentsand faculty members alike limit the quality and completeness of the project; and (2) If we nowwish to bring students and faculty members from various colleges (arts, business, engineering,and content providers, such as nursing and urban planning) together, differences in discipline-specific behaviors, perspectives, and focus may undermine the vision.Approach: (1) We first focused on reducing variability within the engineering domain by the useof a priori component development and design reuse; use of prototyped Apps; access tosophisticated API (application programming interface) libraries; open source and local techcommunity support; and clear separation of summative (with exam and quizzes) and formativeevaluations (with the projects judged by a group of professionals). Graduate students helped withthe first goal, while the work of previous semesters by other undergraduate students provided theprototypes for the current group. The third was facilitated by Google’s release of Android APIsand a free SDK (software development kit). The fourth was a consequence of both Google’sAndroid effort and our own local effort to disseminate. The last one resulted from iterativeimprovement and the authors’ training in eLearning. (2) We then invited faculty members fromgraphics and social science to judge our engineering projects. This opened up discussions on therole of their expertise, and their desire to participate more actively, along with their students.Because of this two stage involvement, the expectations were better understood & managed.Outcomes: A total of 450 students from various disciplines and levels (high school students toprofessional engineers) have undergone our program. Twenty six marketable Apps have beendeveloped. Several of our students have started small businesses to refine and launch their Apps.Discussion: We extended our collaboration to include the college of business last spring, withoutthis two-stage process of due diligence. Apps developed clearly reached a higher plateau of realworld metrics; but personality conflicts were more prevalent at both students and faculty levelsalike. We will now go back to a two-staged process and develop guidelines for clear separationof roles and responsibilities.Conclusion: We have developed a repeatable and robust process to enable multi-collegecollaboration in developing real-world experiences for undergraduate students across differentcolleges.References:Android (2012). Android website for open source tools useful to build Smart Phone Apps.Retrieved September 21, 2012 from

Shankar, R. T., & McAfee, F. X., & Harris, M. S., & Behara, R. S. (2013, June), Smart Phone App Development: A Multi-College Approach Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--22455

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