Stuart’s @stuartbennett92 story so far #wheelsapp

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Stuart Bennett in action

“Three months ago, I was hired for a cross-platform mobile app development internship with the Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching team at Manchester Metropolitan University. I had no mobile app development experience, only some knowledge of programming, UX-design and UI-design from the Computer Games Technology course I graduated from last year.

My project is to help design a mobile application for personal and professional development (#wheelsapp) using my knowledge of existing app design fundamentals. The idea for the app came from Chrissi Nerantzi, a member of CELT. We have met many times to define the requirements of the app and develop interface designs that we felt were both suitable and simply heuristic.

The app itself is a tool that will allow users to rate, review and compare attributes of a subject the user decides. The inputted data is visualized for simplified readability, also allowing easy data-set comparison. The name of the app is called Wheels and the name comes from circle radar-diagrams looking like wheels with a ‘spoke’ for each attribute.

Between meetings with Chrissi, I have been practising app development by making small apps that would soon become a library of resources I could review when the time came to start development on the app.

To develop the app I am using Apache Cordova, an open-source mobile development framework. Cordova allows me to create cross-platform apps using standard web technologies: HTML5, CSS3, JavaScript and AngularJS.

At the beginning of the internship when I was handed this project I was daunted by the task, I had little experience of app development, no experience with the technologies I am using and the project itself seemed just gargantuan. The most valuable thing I think I will take away from this experience, excluding the technological skills I’m developing, is breaking things down. Turning projects into chapters, chapters into tasks, tasks into sub-tasks, sub-tasks into individual components, components into small checklists.

Previously, I had been told before that breaking things down helps turn overwhelming situations into manageable ones but I didn’t grasp that I could break things down so far, until the experience of doing it myself for this project.

Now approaching the halfway point of my internship, I feel confident about developing the app, the road ahead is well planned and the tasks are laid bare. Before September, I hope to find a role where I can continue the development of my new-found skills.

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