NWU Vaal App Factory – Recreating the future

Annette Willemse -- Sat, 04/18/2015 - 13:58

NWU Vaal App Factory – Recreating the future

In less than one year after the establishment of a mobile technology laboratory at the Vaal Triangle Campus of the North-West University (NWU Vaal), the initiative has proved to be not only a valuable addition to the School of Information Technology’s already impressive repertoire, but also an important contributor towards the campus’s e-learning knowledge base.

The School of Information Technology is hosted within the Faculty of Economic Sciences and Information Technology. 

The NWU Vaal App Factory puts app development within
reach of all students
Prof Dawid Jordaan heads-up the
NWU  Vaal App Factory

More about mobile applications (apps)

A mobile app is a computer program designed to run on smartphones, tablet computers and other mobile devices. It is also possible to download apps to laptops or desktop computers. Since the introduction of the so-called smartphones in 2007, the mobile app industry has grown by leaps and bounds.

The term “app” is a shortening of the term “application software” and was listed as the Word of the Year in 2010 by the American Dialect Society.

According to Theo Fitchat – a member of the Vaal App Factory team, there are millions of mobile apps available that allow users to enhance their lives immensely. Examples of these apps include: apps for text messaging, photo sharing, social media, games, education, finance, e-books, online shopping and many more. “Learning how to create your own mobile apps not only catapults you into the realm of current and future technology trends but will also empower you to function as a successful mobile technology entrepreneur,” says Fitchat.

NWU Vaal App Factory

The NWU Vaal App Factory operates within a three-tier model, namely: research, teaching and learning and community engagement.  The latter refers to the unit’s free workshops and development sessions that are hosted on a monthly basis.

Currently the unit offers software housing development pertaining to business solutions and mobile games.  In general, the unit is able to respond to any of the following app requirements:

  • Just-in-time apps (to assist with existing workflow problems which are analysed and can undergo a thorough systems analysis process to deliver a suitable mobile app); and
  • Quickly prototype any new entrepreneurial ideas into workable apps as soon as the app idea becomes known.

The unit is headed-up by Prof Dawid Jordaan.

The mission of the unit is to teach and nurture students to develop their own mobile apps and to research and further develop mobile technology and applications.  The unit also aims to provide and implement technology based solutions for emerging business needs. According to FItchat one of the spin-off advantageous of the unit is that it simultaneously encourages the development of SME entrepreneurial ventures.

Join the club!

According to Fitchat the unit not only caters for students and industry, but everyone who is interested to learn more about the exciting world of mobile apps. “At the NWU Vaal App Club we show you how to –from scratch, build your own mobile apps and we cater for everyone from young children to tech savvy programmers,” says Fitchat and adds that many people view app development as a hobby or a way in which to distinguish themselves as technological entrepreneurs.

There are three club session per week and every month a new app concept is discussed. At the workshops you can learn, do research, or continue to build and develop your own app. Apps that have been developed in these workshops include: games, line-of-business apps and social media apps.

NWU Vaal App Factory to feature at Geexpo 2015

During the annual Geexpo learners - from as young as Grade 8, are invited to take part in several mathematics and information sciences related activities, such as: a PAT Competition, a Mathematics Olympiad, a Robotics Challenge and interactive presentations by the Serious Games Institute of South Africa (SGI-SA). The latter includes mobile technologies as well as the App Factory.

According to JT Terblanche, a lecturer within the School of Information Technology and one of the organisers of the event, the importance of mathematics and science cannot be stressed enough, since these subjects are compulsory if students wish to undertake further studies in a number of fields that are very important to the economy and the further development of our country. These sectors include engineering, natural sciences, information technology and medicine. “At the Vaal Triangle Campus we believe that we are the preferred choice when it comes to business and information technology,” says JT and explains that apart from showcasing the different applications of mathematics and science within a university context, learners also stand the chance to win study bursaries during the event.

Schools are invited to register as many learners for Geexpo as they see fit. Please note that the PAT Competition is for learners who are in Grade 10 – 12, whilst the Mathematics Olympiad is open for any learner from Grade 8 – 12. For more information please send an e-mail to jt.terblanche@nwu.ac.za or to sune.vanderlinde@nwu.ac.za  For an entree form please visit http://www.nwu.ac.za/geexpo