30 Oct 2012
COMP314 students (from left) Yoni Villamor, Jeremy Roundill (standing),
Simon Campbell, Mark Feaver.
A group of senior students from the University of Waikato’s Computer Science Department has developed a phone-based photo printing app for the United States’ biggest pharmacy chain, Walgreens, thanks to support from MEA Mobile, one of New Zealand's top mobile application developers.
The four Waikato students took on the job of developing the app for their COMP314 software engineering project -- a three-month exercise for third-year students to design and implement a medium-sized software project.
MEA Mobile provided technical guidance and market support for the students to give them real world experience in the globally booming business of mobile app development.
A New Zealand based company, MEA Mobile has already developed a range of successful apps for the mobile photography market, and through its US offices was able to facilitate the special arrangement with Walgreens.
Called Printicular, the free Android app lets users send their phone, tablet or Facebook photos to be printed at the nearest Walgreens store. Walgreens is one of the largest chain drugstores in the US with over 8,000 outlets throughout the country all of which provide a photo printing service.
Mark Feaver, Jeremy Roundill, Yoni Villamor and Simon Campbell had eight weeks to build the app, using Walgreens Application Programming Interface (API) or code library which was made available to them through MEA Mobile.
“It was a great opportunity for us to work with MEA Mobile,” says Mark Feaver, who juggles his university studies with work as a web developer and programmer. “It was a huge learning curve, but when I’ve gone for job interviews most employers are very impressed with the project.”
MEA Mobile director, Rod Macfarlane, says he’s enjoyed working with the Waikato student team.
“We are really keen to encourage more young people to learn the skills and gain the knowledge we need in this business,” he says.
“Mark, Jeremy, Yoni and Simon were great to work with. We pushed them hard and they responded really well as team. There are some great features in the app they developed.”
Feaver says Waikato’s software engineering project paper pushes students to figure things out for themselves. “When you’re a second year student, you’re used to being fed the specs, but with this paper you deal directly with the client. It’s the paper I’ve worked on the most – and the one I’ve got the most out of.”
Student team member Jeremy Roundill says it’s a good way to get some real-world work experience while at university. “COMP314 is definitely a good paper to take. What’s important is not so much the end result of the project, but rather the experience of working in a team and doing a project over a long period of time.”
Course lecturer Dr David Streader says the software engineering project gives students an opportunity to learn how to work as a team, and plan and deliver a project within budget and on time.
“It’s a win-win for clients and students alike,” he says. “The client can check out the talent graduating from the University and, and for some students, it’s the first time they’ve had to develop their ‘soft’ skills – which are so sought after in the IT sector.”