Rows of Macbooks lined Eagle’s Nest Monday afternoon as students in professor John Gallaugher’s Swift/iOS App Development class showcased their final projects for the semester. The course, now in its third semester, aims at arming the next generation of business innovators with the coding experience necessary to be successful in the modern world. He hosts an app showcase each semester.
“The biggest problem our entrepreneurs have is they don’t have the skills to be able to build their vision,” Gallaugher, BC ’88 and GCSOM ’90, said. “So I was wondering when I had my sabbatical, back in the fall of 2016, if it would be possible to design a first class in programming that would be very different.”
While his students have been thinking about their projects for the entire semester, he assigned a new, smaller program each week in class that built on the concepts of the previous week. For their final exam, they wrote code that enabled their phone to cast spells from the Harry Potter series, complete with audio from the movies.
The apps on display ranged from assisting in purely recreational pursuits to professional use. One project, TeeToGreen, allows golfers to simulate driving ranges and courses, track their practice sessions, and share rounds with other golfers. Users can add their own course or select a pre-programmed one from real life, such as Augusta National, home of the Masters Tournament.
“It’s meant for individual golfers to practice in a more structured way. You can compare your results to friends just like you would do on the golf course,” said Michael Green, TeeToGreen’s creator and CSOM ’19.
Yu Chang, CSOM ’21, developed Wunderite for commercial insurance brokers looking to streamline their risk profiles with an easy-to-use mobile app. The program lets users add multiple companies, test out different options for premiums, and export business information to investors. Wunderite is part of a startup, a collaboration between 11 Boston College students and MBA candidates.
Many students gained inspiration for their apps by simply trying to improve parts of their day-to-day lives and hobbies.
“I’m a big golfer, and whenever I go to the driving range I always try to visualize shots in my head and plan out,” Green said. “So with the app I don’t have to as much imagination when I play, I can just press the button and I can focus on my shot because it generates on-the-course situations for golfers when they’re practicing.
Kerry Nosta, CSOM ’20, created her app, NeatWorking, to organize the vast number of business cards she had collected over the years. Users can store information, add notes, and attach pictures or LinkedIn profiles for an easy reminder.
“I have a bunch of business cards on my desk from networking events that I didn’t know what to do with, so I decided that was something that seemed functional to me,” she said.
Like many of her peers, Nosta entered the class with no prior programming experience.
“I like technology, but I’m not necessarily that good at it, so I decided to go for it,” Nosta said. “I have a new appreciation for apps. They are very difficult to create.”
For others, the course allowed them to refine and develop skills they had already learned through more advanced products. Vector, created by Kevin Cai, MCAS ’18, aggregates projected price ranges and call times for Uber, Lyft, and the MBTA for any given trip.
“I’m a computer science major and a senior, graduating pretty soon. I wanted to do this because I thought it would be interesting and fun,’ said Kevin Cai, MCAS ’18. “And to that degree, I’ve actually implemented code that shouldn’t be possible if you haven’t coded prior to this class. The layer that does all the heavy lifting is actually written in an entirely different language.”
This week also marks the final round of the New Venture Competition, an annual student competition hosted by Harvard Business School’s Rock Center for Entrepreneurship and Social Enterprise Initiative.
“I think it’s the first year where every team that’s in the final I’ve had at least one of the students,” Gallaugher said. “I can’t take credit for them, but what is really wonderful is to see them get together, help each other, pace each other with their own internal excellence.”