Not only did the students get to work with a real client and learn about three languages in the process, they also have a real product to show for it.

Xiannong Meng

Professor Xiannong Meng, computer science, believes Bucknell offers its students an advantage – the opportunity to explore many interests and become stronger creative thinkers in the process – and he says this approach is evident especially in computer science.

"Students can leave this program with a degree from the College of Engineering, a bachelor of science in the College of Arts and Sciences, or a bachelor of arts, often with a double major or a minor in another subject of interest such as music," he says. "It is wonderful to have so many options."

Meng teaches a range of computer science classes, including an introductory-level course, midlevel courses on networking and information retrieval, and senior-level design courses – intensive, hands-on culminating experiences for engineers. Recently, his senior design students created a free app, Heel Thy Tendon, now available from the Apple Store and Google Play.

To create the app,16 students worked closely with local orthopedist Dr. John Furia. Because the app had to work on multiple platforms, the students worked in three groups – one using the JAVA language for Android devices, one working in Objective C for Apple and one creating a version in HTML5, that, although not a native app, would work in a web browser and to some extent on any mobile device.

Meng and the students used an approach called "agile development" which required working closely with Dr. Furia to define scope, meeting weekly for feedback and testing – lots of testing. Meng also required each team to develop tutorials for the others so each student would learn something of JAVA, Objective C and HTML5. "It was a fantastic experience," Meng explains. "Not only did the students get to work with a real client and learn about three languages in the process, they also have a real product to show for it."

Posted September 6, 2013

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