App development class expands La Sierra name in cyberspace
April 8, 2011
By Darla Martin Tucker
RIVERSIDE, Calif. – (www.lasierra.edu) On April 5, Apple App Store customers downloaded just two times a 99-cent online drumming application created by a La Sierra University student. But when the student’s professor, Dr. Enoch Hwang, deleted the price tag that same day, those unwilling to shell out a buck for the cyberspace toy for iPhones, iPods Touches and iPads downloaded the free digital drum app 732 times.
Computer science major Evan Aumack created the application, or app during winter quarter as a final project for Hwang’s Introduction to Computer Programming class. It was first uploaded to the App Store on March 26. The app program displays a photo of drumheads and cymbals on Apple computer’s hand-held devices or smart phones. Users tap the drums and cymbals to hear the various percussion sounds of a drum set.
It was Aumack’s first attempt at creating a software application. “I chose to do the drum app because I’ve been fascinated with other musical apps in the App Store and I wanted to try it for myself,” he said. Aumack is also a musician and plays the guitar, bass and piano but is not skilled on the drums, he says. “Unfortunately I don’t play the drums well enough to do it in public.”
In fall of 2009, Hwang added the Apple application development component to his quarterly Introduction to Computer Programming classes to boost interest. Students create apps as fun, final class projects each quarter. “Before we were just using a traditional approach to teach computer programming,” Hwang said. “Now the students are learning the same logical programming techniques but applying it on the iPhone platform. After 10 weeks they can now write simple app codes.”
That hook worked for Aumack. “I took the class because I was interested in learning how to write apps for the iPod Touch and iPhone,” said the freshman computer whiz. He is aiming for a career with software and Internet giants Adobe or Google one day. But the app development experience was truly riveting. “…becoming a full-time app designer would be really cool and I would consider doing that for a living,” Aumack said.
Most of Hwang’s students are computer science majors. A few are from the university’s music technology program and a few from other majors like biology, lured by the opportunity to make iPhone apps.
After testing the students’ final project apps, Hwang submits the students’ apps to computer giant Apple for potential posting in the company’s online App Store under the computer science department’s account. The App Store is home to tens of thousands of free and priced applications that allow Apple’s computer and smart phone users to play games, conduct business, or pursue educational activities.
Apple makes the final decision about whether a submitted app will be granted a spot in its store. The conglomerate rejected one La Sierra computer science class app on the grounds that it didn’t possess high enough entertainment value, Hwang said.
Aumack’s drum app is one of six currently available on the La Sierra University Computer Science Department account. The department’s top free student-designed app is Yahtzy, created by Nissa Nishiyama, a computer science major, and Christian Liang, a music technology major. Downloads for Yahzty were averaging close to 2,000 per day. “However the app had to be removed from the online store because Hasbro reported that although Yahzty is spelled slightly differently from their trademark “Yahtzee,” it is too similar and therefore we were infringing on their rights,” Hwang said.
The two 99-cent drum app downloads on the department’s account earlier on April 5 netted the department approximately 70 cents each, Hwang said. Apple keeps the rest of the sale.
Brad Cummings, a 2010 La Sierra graduate took Hwang’s class during his senior year to learn how to program apps. The former biology/pre-dentistry major holds an interest in technology and chose the introduction computer class and a follow-up course to fulfill elective requirements. During Hwang’s class Cummings created two apps, Sum It Up and Scorekeeper!. The games are currently offered for sale on the App Store.
Since taking the class Cummings has capitalized on his newfound knowledge, created his own App Store account for a $100 annual fee and developed and uploaded about 20 apps. He offers the apps either for free or for 99 cents per download and has made money off the venture. Now, while applying for entrance into dental school, he operates a sideline app creation company called B.C. Apps, with new apps released frequently.
“I now develop for iPad as well and am just finishing one for a small business,” Cummings said. “It is mostly a hobby, but it has been enjoyable.”
For Hwang, the app projects not only benefit students but help spread the word about La Sierra University through the vast realm of the Internet. “La Sierra’s name is getting out to a lot of people because all our apps have a pop-up message that tells the user that the app was created by a computer science student at La Sierra University,” he said. Computer users in Japan, Canada, Germany, France, Spain, the Republic of Korea, Singapore, the United Kingdom, Italy and around the United States have downloaded the computer science department’s apps made by computer class students.
Hwang, a native of Hong Kong, is an avid musician with his own Apple application to offer. He is church organist at the Hacienda Heights Chinese Seventh-day Adventist Church and has recorded on the organ nearly 300 public domain hymns from the Seventh-day Adventist Hymnal.
Using music notation software, he typeset the music scores and lyrics for these hymns. Combining the audio recordings and the music scores together, he has created the SDA Hymnal app. For churches with no musicians, users can use the recordings for accompaniment during congregational singing. Users can also bookmark individual hymns and zoom in and out of the music to enlarge it or make it smaller. Hymns can easily be found by title, first line, or hymn number.
Hwang now uses this app on his iPad instead of the printed hymnal when he plays the organ for church every Sabbath, he said. The app sells for $6.99, a bargain, says Hwang, given the 99 cent-per-song cost of music on Apple’s iTunes store.
PR Contact: Larry Becker
Executive Director of University Relations
La Sierra University