February 04, 2011

Rick Zaccone and Aurimas Liutikas working on the iBucknell app.

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By Julia Ferrante

LEWISBURG, Pa. - Associate Professor of Computer Science Rick Zaccone wanted to bring home a lesson about apps to his special topics course "Software Design."

So this past fall he asked his students to brainstorm ideas for a Bucknell University-centric application for the iPhone. || See related video

The ideas were a starting point for Zaccone and one of his students, Aurimas Liutikas, who spent the next year developing the University's first "native app,"iBucknell. Liutikas, a computer science and engineering major, qualified for an independent study and a summer research grant for his work on the app, which launched in January and is available free to anyone with an iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad. || Download iBucknell

"Anyone who sets foot on the Bucknell grounds might have a use for the app," said Liutikas, Class of '12. "New visitors might want to see the campus map. Students may want to look at the menus at the dining halls. And professors may need to look for people in the directory."

The iBucknell app features a GPS-enabled campus map with a "follow me" button that allows users to pinpoint their location at Bucknell while on the move.

"The map rotates according to what direction you are going," Liutikas said. "You also can select a building and it shows you a picture and where you are."

The app allows users to search for faculty, staff and students in the campus directory, producing results as they type, much like the Google search engine. Course offerings and schedules also are listed in a calendar view along with information about professors, the latest University headlines and dining hall menus.

"My hope is that students will get more involved in projects like this, where they are telling us the things they want and will use," Zaccone said.

"I hope students will improve on the app," Liutikas said. "There is room for more features."

The Bucknell app is modeled on a program developed by a group of Stanford University students who formed a company to develop a native app for their university and later sold the company to Blackboard. The company helped Duke University create its own app as well.

Bucknell's Office of Communications supported the development of iBucknell, including providing equipment and technical assistance and paying for a number of Liutikas' research hours.

Zaccone and Liutikas initially developed the app for the iPhone. But when the iPad became available in April, they retooled the app so it would work on that device as well.

iBucknell had been downloaded nearly 400 times by the first week of February.

Also this month, as part of a separate project, the University launched a mobile website, m.bucknell.edu, which allows students, faculty, staff and other visitors to access a campus map, course schedules, dining menus and other vital information on their Internet-enabled mobile devices.

Contact: Division of Communications

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