Student programmers with pillows and sleeping bags trickled into a large lecture hall on the first floor of the Interactive Learning Center (ILC) and excitedly chatted in
Some rolled or carried boxes filled with desktop computers and laptops.
An air of nervousness seemed to prevail as Boise State student programmers began to realize they were facing a long weekend of hard work and caffeine fueled
Boise State’s second annual Appathon was about to begin.
According to the Apple website, application downloads for Apple devices recently exceeded 40 billion, half of which were acquired in 2012 alone.
The Appathon provided an opportunity for student programmers to try their hands at creating innovative application prototypes while gaining tips and expertise from more experienced developers.
The event was hosted by the Office of Information Technology, the College of Business and Economics, and the College of Engineering.
22 teams registered for the weekend-long event and meals and drinks where provided by sponsors for free.
“I was talking to a friend of mine a couple years ago, and he was talking about how his company had a weekend hackathon, and how all their developers got excited about it,” said Appathon creator and Associate Vice President for Information Technology Max Davis-Johnson. “I thought, we ought to be doing that.”
Davis-Johnson started the Appathon last year and was impressed by the learning potential of the competition.
With the ever-increasing presence of technology in the classroom and everyday life, Davis-Johnson feels events like the App-athon are necessary to spark interest in software development, especially among college-age students who have school resources available to learn programming code.
“I think software certainly is going to be more and more a part of what we do as human beings, so I think we need to do this,” Davis-Johnson said.
The event began Friday night in a lecture hall in the ILC filled with excited developers and select Boise State department heads.
A brief video was shown featuring software development superstars like Mark Zuckerberg, the creator of Facebook. The short film addressed the fact that technological development is ever-increasing, and only 10 percent of American students study or are taught programming code.
“Basically, everywhere I go in the community, people give me a really, really hard time about us not graduating a lot of information technology or computer science majors,” said Amy Moll, dean of the College of Engineering in her keynote speech to
Moll also reiterated how important software development is to obtaining jobs in the future.
Appathon teams then piled together for a group photo before moving up to the second floor and splitting off into classrooms and work spaces.
Development team called Blake and the Ovaries set up computers alongside a team of friends and contemplated the looming weekend.
“I feel like we want to do this as a fun learning experience,” said group member Rob Ovary. “We’re not expecting to win anything, it would be awesome if we did, but we would be happy leaving after eating a bunch of free food and learning something.”
Group members had already cracked open cans of energy drinks and began to settle down for a long night
Pizza arrived and was eaten quickly by hungry developers. Teams finished eating and returned to their work, each group huddling occasionally together to touch on an idea or comment on progress.
Blake and the Ovaries members worked until three a.m. before heading home for a few hours of sleep, but insisted on making it back in the morning for the free breakfast.
Additional night security at the ILC ensured those leaving during late weekend hours were safe.
“I was all hopped up on energy drinks,” said Blake and the Ovaries member Blake Kelley. “I slept about three hours.”
After breakfast, Blake and the Ovaries became quiet and stared blankly at computer screens cross checking and typing code while occasionally teasing a neighboring team of developers with mocking remarks.
“We are basically just hacking away,” said programmer Melissa Bower. “That is what I am doing right now.”
Blake and the Ovaries members sat attempting to apply knowledge of Java code to the Android OS and explained how a trial and error approach was the only option since no member was completely familiar with Google software.
Enchiladas arrived and soon were gone while the software junkies dug in for another long night at the ILC.
Team Blake and the Ovaries were unable to complete their coding work in time to present material and participate in group presentation; however, group members expressed pride and satisfaction at what they had learned and accomplished.
Teams were droopy eyed and slouched slightly the next morning as they submitted their applications for review by judges.
Before long it was time to display the results of an intensive, weekend long struggle with software and one by one teams showcased their applications to their peers while judges from different
technological professions made notes.
The array of applications and designs where truly impressive and judges retired for a quick meeting to tally points and determine a clear winner.
A decision was soon reached and Davis-Johnson read aloud the winner of the 2013 Boise State Appathon.
Team APPathetic came in first with its application eliminating the need for expensive i>clickers and replaces them with an online interactive application that can be used in classroom settings to give responses to questions in real time.
“I remember a year and a half ago, I had two classes that require the clicker technology that BSU currently uses,” said APPathetic member Colin Smith. “Each class required a different clicker and I ended up spending $110 on clickers for that semester.”
Smith and group members were fed up with the cost of clickers and decided to use the weekend to create an application for mobile devices and computers that would eliminate the need for clicker technology.
“Now that 95 percent of students on campus have iphones or Androids, it just doesn’t make sense that Boise State is holding on to that technology,” Smith said.
APPathetic attributed their success to organization and division of labor.
“We actually had a really good team because we each gave each other user roles, like, you’re gonna do the server side, you’re gonna do the client side, you’re gonna do the admin side, so from the beginning we had a really good workflow, we were really non-stressed,” said APPathetic member Roger Perez.
Each member of APPathetic was awarded $500, showcased his or her talent to industry professionals, and learned the art of creating software as a team.
The winning application was a basic prototype illustrating how an internet connection can eliminate the need for current classroom interactive technology. APPathetic team members plan to continue work on the application with the eventual goal of providing i>clicker alternatives in classrooms across the globe.
“This is the first step, we wanted to get this prototype out to show people there is no need to buy these clickers anymore,” Smith said. “We can do this from our phones.”
1st Place – APPathetic - Awarded$500.00 per team member. App name is: IntelliClick – interactive, real-time responses from audience members using mobile and web interface.
- Colin Smith
- Jen Parke
- Roger Perez
- Han Park
2nd Place – Angry Meerkat - Awarded $300.00 per team member. App: Local events finder- runs off your device’s GPS location and identifies activities in categories; entertainment, education, etc.
- Nick Bender
- Taylor Bell
- John Otander
3rd Place – 8-Bit Avengers - Awarded $100.00 per team member. App name is: BroncoRidez- Allows you to find out where the Boise State Shuttle is located and also would show real-time parking lot availability on campus, just in case you are late for class.
- Ben Neely
- Reuben Tanner
- Prabin Timsina
- Danh Nguyen
Best Native App – 2 winning teams:
Team Atena -
Awarded $100.00 per team member. App name: BSUMaps- This app helps all incoming freshman know where to go and what time they need to be there – for classes that is.
- Gabriel Trisca
- Scott Kausler
- Marianna Budnikova
Team Mobile Thunder - Awarded $100.00 per team member. App name: Blue Screen Reader- this app allows you to take a photo of the error code displayed on your “blue screen of death” and research the problem.
- Jeff Pinkham
- Darius Houles
- Matt Koob
- Andrew Johnson