Mobile Development Education in Milwaukee

William Welbes on July 22, 2013

There’s a huge shift in computing under way. In 2013, statistical trends show that worldwide shipments of tablets will out pace that of PCs. That’s just tablets. In 2010, shipments of smart phones blew past PCs at record pace and never looked back. This adoption of mobile devices is the most rapid shift in computing the world has ever seen. Just over 6 years ago, Apple released the iPhone and set off the spark that ignited the mobile revolution. Ready or not, mobile is here in force.

As a leader of the Mobile Team at Centare, I have the opportunity to work with clients both here in Milwaukee and across the country on mobile strategy and mobile app development. We have built a team of world class mobile app developers that assists clients of varied sizes in a wide range of industries. Our ability to deliver for clients depends on our constant learning of new platforms, technologies, approaches and skill sets. Our team embraces and thrives on the fast pace environment that mobile provides.

Given the pace of change in mobile, how are the colleges and universities in Milwaukee preparing students? Milwaukee is home to several educational institutions with programs in software engineering and computer science. Most notably, Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE), Marquette University and the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee (UWM) are among the top institutions graduating software developers and software engineers. Let’s take a look at how each are approaching mobile development.

MSOE, UWM, and Marquette

As a graduate of Milwaukee School of Engineering, it’s encouraging to see that MSOE has incorporated mobile development into their Software Engineering curriculum. The department head of Software Engineering, Dr. Mark Sebern, has incorporated senior level undergraduate classes that introduce students to mobile app development. His SE-4910 course on iOS mobile app development provides aspiring mobile developers with fundamentals in mobile design patterns, application frameworks and hands on labs. While focusing on the fundamentals of good software engineering principles, a solid introduction into the growing world of mobile development will provide graduates with a great starting point.

Just a couple miles west at Marquette University, the Computer Science department has added a Mobile Computing Concentration to their Master’s program. While the focus is on mobile computing management, new models of post-desktop computing and security, there are mobile software development courses in the curriculum as well. In addition to the masters program, the undergraduate engineering department has also incorporated mobile development as a part of their curriculum. In the fall of 2011, I was invited by Dr. George Corliss of the undergraduate Computer Engineering department to speak on mobile development to Marquette’s undergraduate senior design students. It was encouraging to see students interested and experimenting in mobile as a part of their self directed senior level design projects.

Moving now to the top floor of a former beer storage building located in the old Pabst Brewing complex, UWM has taken a unique approach to mobile development in education. They recently launched the UWM Mobile Innovation Lab, a student lab focused on developing apps to help local researchers, non-profits and government entities in the Milwaukee area. More affectionately known as the AppBrewery, UWM’s group of students recently developed an app for the Milwaukee Country Transit System that features bus schedules, GPS tracking of bus locations, and country park information. The app has not yet launched for iOS or Android, but is expected to be out at the end of the summer. AppBrewery gives students an opportunity to apply skills they are learning in class to real world mobile app solutions. It’s encouraging to see this new and innovative approach to education in mobile development. I’ll be watching to see where AppBrewery goes.

As we shift our computing to mobile, education is making steps toward building the next set of developers that will build on these platforms. I’d love to see the greater Milwaukee area become an innovation center for mobile. What will we brew up next?

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